browsing, a foreigner

back hunched
neck shrunk
fourth floor corner
of a chain bookstore

I hide my movements.

slow fumbles with thick glossed
text blocks
that are not what I
came here for.

no, just browsing thanks.

my stress-pressed lips are a symptom,
sick with self-censorship-
trying to muffle my obscene, clipped
American accent.

what would it taste like
in this locked jaw
to feel no shame?

ask
because tracing spines
of biographies & mysteries & military histories
won’t get me closer to the sagging lyrical lines
that i’m after.

…but I don’t want you, your clenched wide steps
dutifully ignored
clipboard with store inventory
“Excuse me, which way is gender theory?”

where’s the lithe one
the wet bright eyes one
intrepid scholar
with a scarf like a dynasty,
like a Wasekh collar?

I’ll find it myself.

Pretending it’s an accident
to slip out a trade paperback
a queer activist
on the retrograde laminate display
classified, like it’s a genre-
Non-Fiction: Gay.

I wanted something erotic
babbling prose, melodic
but now I just want to source my anger &
unclench my sharp white
teeth.

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