I Swiped Right & Got Stood Up (Twice)

On Reading Poems About Sex Over Brunch

It is Sunday, June 12, 2016, and the sun rose in Kent, Ohio, at 5:52 a.m. to stir the pot of lush greenery and noisy birds that share the view outside my window, and I woke shortly after to stir about in my cotton panties, craving a cigarette.

There is a DIY art space called Hive Mind in Akron, about 12 miles away from the house my partner and I call home, where I was booked to read some poetry this morning alongside some talented poets named Scotty and Alexa, and some musicians, Doug Hite and the Gage Brothers. This was a charity show for a community garden and a potluck brunch. I volunteered to bring the coffee.

I dropped my partner off at work before 10 a.m. and then went to Save-a-Lot for cheap coffee and doughnuts, stopped at my parents’ house to pick something up that mailed there for me, and then went to Hive Mind. I listened to Camera Obscura in the car and smoked Camel Turkish Royals and felt invincible.

More than 20 people came and we spent an hour talking over plates of vegan pancakes, homemade granola, fresh berries and cantaloupe, with mugs of orange juice and tea shaped like M&Ms and sock monkeys.

Eventually, the show started with Scotty reading, and then it was my turn.

I forgot to introduce myself, but to be honest, I don’t think my name matters so much when I’m standing there sharing myself. I spill from the page like the juice on my pink dress spills and stains. I pour myself out so someone else may fill me up again with their words of understanding, their shared experiences of loss or trauma, letting me know I’m not alone. I give myself to my writing as a way of coping, and it helps, I swear.

I opened with the poem I wrote after my friend, Christian, killed himself about how I had thought of doing the same thing and it tore me up inside. I’ve shared that poem a number of times at open mics, but today was the first time I read it aloud with out crying. I told the audience this and locked eyes with a couple people who nodded encouragingly.

I followed-up with some poems about finding myself lonely and self-loathing, drowning my troubles in PBR, as I did at 21, when I wrote them. The year following my 21st birthday was formative, in fact, as I had consensual sex for the first time, came out as pansexual with a partner on my arm, and overcame a lot of other personal obstacles.

After sharing those poems about being 21, I flipped back and forth between two others, each rather explicit, and said aloud, “I want to read a poem about sex, but I don’t know which one.” Some people laughed, others shifted uncomfortably, but I felt empowered. I love to read poems about sex in public. I always mention it ahead of time, usually with a trigger warning, or with a joke, but I love to do it. It’s like a form of exhibitionism, as the words fall from my mouth.

“Aldebaran, my brightest star,
I long for you —
you magnificent,
you natural, you unruly —
your lips burst, red
like gas station wine,
and your tongue deep —
deep, past girlhood
crushes with blond hair
and cocks —
past the flophouse
futon, wet from him,
and I, dry —
deep, to that place —
cheeks flushed,
on all fours, open for you —
2,000 miles from me.”

After the brothers ended the show with their folksy musical duo, I snagged a final bite of fruit, lit a cigarette, and left. I drove home to Kent, listening to Camera Obscura, smoking, and feeling invincible.