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Grant Chemidlin

After Seeing Queer Teens Holding Hands on the Sidewalk


I remember he tried to kiss me, 

so I blew him. 


Cold cover of snow bank.


Memory, like landscapes, can be 



with the right conditions.


That robin, wing-crushed, 

on our path back from sledding—


I always saw as lips, 

fragile thing that could have been,


what I wrecked. 


Now, I see it’s shapeless,

spilled blood,


a thrashing, red feeling,



not with myself,

not the blameless boy,


but that forest, snow-covered, stark 

& unforgiving hour 


that stretched across the afternoon, 

the years—


knee-deep, but blank

as bone.



Our First Turkey


cooked upside down for two hours

before the thought Where are the legs?

finally won & I took it out & you 

palmed the 21-pound bird

with dirty oven mitts.

& didn’t both of us, at some point, feel 

face down & drowning? Years of thinking 

something’s wrong with us? Look—unfolding

in the dining room: our longest table,

mostly women, gays,

a Last Supper scene that would

have gagged even the wisest men.

Wine swirling our faces pink. The laughter

spreading seat to seat

breaks us, breaks down 

our fixed ideas. Turns out—

the turkey’s great. 

Maggie says it’s the juiciest she’s ever had 

& she’s a turkey freak. 

We yell, Cheers! Eat pie. Play a murder mystery 

& when the last friend leaves,

you & I, we fall asleep, 

in our big blue bed, our naked chests, open 

to the sky. 



Grant Chemidlin is a queer poet living in Los Angeles. He is the author of What We Lost in the Swamp (Central Avenue Publishing, 2023), a finalist for the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry. Recent work has appeared in Palette PoetryQuarterly WestTupelo Quarterly, and Atlanta Review, among others.


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