For a week straight, I dream of New York
uncapping itself for me.
An unapologetic moon on fire. Just
how I like it. Fire—
a version of the body to which, as the sort of man
I am, I am supposed to be kin. & it isn’t entirely
untrue—like the singed moon, I sometimes crave
to be smooth, genderless. Tonight
slurs from place to place, as if recorded
on a 90s Panasonic, through the bottom
of a ribbed glass, slipped in a photo album
marked NYC though clearly not taken
in New York. For most of the night I wear
only a soft face and a voice to match. I don’t ask
anything of gender. I secretly aspire to trap it
outside of the departing L train. But nonetheless—
curiosity cannot exist without its spouse. So what if I am
comfortable when I don’t need to be? That’s what it means
to be queer. If it is possible
I think I am comfortable wearing someone else’s face.
Or my own face, perhaps—Revlon matte, fresh.
after Christina Im / for Derek Whitener
It’s always nearly April—
The black poppy dangling from God’s clean mouth.
Whitener: Actor (gay), swollen. Texas. Surveillance footage.
Whitener: Outside Target, man against the sidewalk.
Cracked against the night’s star-chipped bowl.
In this brief season, there’s always less moon
Than mouth. Less destiny than gangrene.
Except when I house on fire. When I child again
In the womb of a sleeping mother.
When I body almost: night-horse, calm ghost.
The way the river doesn’t touch the barn
Is how I think about God.
In Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas—
I boy the way the rivers boy. No freeze, all run.
Peter LaBerge is the author of the chapbooks Makeshift Cathedral (YesYes Books, 2017) and Hook (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2015). His recent work appears in Best New Poets, Crazyhorse, Harvard Review, Iowa Review, Kenyon Review Online, Pleiades, Tin House, and elsewhere. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of the Adroit Journal, and is the recipient of a fellowship from the Bucknell University Stadler Center for Poetry. He recently graduated with his B.A. in English from the University of Pennsylvania, and currently lives and works in the Bay Area.