st. elmo’s fire

                   “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”—Romans 7:15

                   “What you WANNA do is not necessarily what you’re GONNA do.”—Gia Gunn, Ru Paul’s Drag Race


House of cards              &              boarding-school hijinks               w/ the squash recruit 

Conquistador    w/ new territory to explore        tattered charts sprawled            unabashedly

on the floor       Eye candy             an alien rush, a fish on a bicycle        The sea recoiling, hissing

THE DINER, our spot       banquette emerald, pristine, comforting                 cheeseburgers,

          onion rings &         gin-splashed Shirleys Temple               I lick grease off his fingers

Parasite & host                shaved down    truffle  dust of pure desire             Kamala said we don’t compare 

struggle    But at this moment     I need him very badly      finally he says              Let’s get outta here

THE ROOM, sequestered like heretics    He turns, back displayed                  Unexpected muscles jutting 

out     not impolitely          (meaning welcome)      He tells me about his time in Australia,        where 

they say “rooted” instead of fucked       Rooted cherry tree, berries tumbling              Gravity

the only thing   keeping me grounded                     I want to be the koala   perched on his bare chest

We’d take a beautiful nap together         I step closer         His face lifts,    eyes flaring in recognition

I study his        Nantucket red (flattering & freshly-laundered & pressed & the right length & not too

snug)   windswept hair (you know, the kind that falls just so)     bare feet wincing,      skin so white

it’s translucent  smooth muscle everywhere     hands sleek,   promising calligraphy    I am ripe,

            imagining sticky blooms on my stomach—;             anything to fix this    profound loneliness

            THE ACT, pleading:                    My mouth wants to be wrapped around you    He slides his tongue

to draw mine out             drumstick luring crab             Soon shirts strewn,            skin caught in carbines

& calipers         We become        amateur philosophers             of the body,                           of unspoken

devastation—;      He holds me tenderly,                 carrying me in the private cave of his mouth 

            His smoothness                   rapt at briny attention             I am a urinal,  fly imagery on

porcelain               something to aim at        I was nothing before he invented me        I am afflicted w/ a

blindness only he can cure              I could burst out of myself, look down at my body                         A deep

breath out, a sigh of relief               I am the thing sloshing in his mouth    foam white runoff in a cup

red wire                 blue wire             either way, everything blows up Nakatomi Plaza          snickerdoodle

hurt on my lips      THE BEGINNING, says:                     I wanna be your hedgehog                Smirking,           

massaging his brow, says:                            What does that even mean            smiling, touching his chest

(the way boys do)              you can’t put any ol’ words together  & expect them to mean something 

        I say:                          Yes I can                          Babe                                  Daz poetry


A Lambda Literary fellow, MICHAEL CHANG (they/them) was awarded the Kundiman Scholarship at the Miami Writers Institute. A finalist in contests at the Iowa Review, BOMB, NightBlock, & many others, their poems have been nominated for Best of the Net. Their manuscript “big shot manifesto” was selected by Rae Armantrout as a finalist for the Fonograf Editions Open Genre Book Prize, & another was a finalist in the Diode Editions Book Contest.