I still see him in cigarette-burned photographs,
his hair a messy tuft of Medusa locks,
streaked red, black, and green,
his coke-rimmed glasses duct-taped
after an elbow to the face at a punk show.
I still see him glossy-eyed,
lingering outside of Café Metro,
his clothes stinking of cigarettes and booze,
while Mohawk Dave shouted,
Gay High, Gay High, for the way he flashed
a grin at punk boys after a few hits of a bong,
a few downed shots.
I still see him stagger and curl his fists
after someone asked if he was gay.
I still see him sprawled on his bed,
wrapped in dirty sheets, punk front men
rasping through his speakers,
no Exene, no Blondie, no Patti Smith,
always men howling. I still see him
slamming in the pit, bouncing against hard bodies,
or clenching the hand of his purple-haired girlfriend
he had on the side, worn like a pin tacked
to his jean jacket, something to flash
whenever Mohawk Dave called him Gay High,
whenever he wanted to wear eyeliner or fishnets
over his pale legs, whenever he wanted to lean in,
kiss a punk boy hard, fuck against the back wall,
slip to the sticky floor of those punk dives,
against the crash of symbols, the roar of power chords,
a shirtless front man jumping, snarling on stage.
Brian Fanelli’s most recent book is Waiting for the Dead to Speak (NYQ Books), winner of the Devil’s Kitchen Poetry Prize. His writing has been published in the LA Times, World Literature Today, Paterson Literary Review, Pedestal, Main Street Rag, and elsewhere. Brian is an assistant professor of English at Lackwanna College. He likes to blog about films and literature at http://www.brianfanelli.com.
Photograph by Shawnte Orion