They were all that mattered

that summer I lived

on 3rd—Russ, my neighbor


made every conversation

dazzle with what

years later, I’d know


was loneliness—rehearsal

of chatter until

it blooms—Then


I knew luxury

to be happiness—

what gave me joy


was true & how

I forgot it for years—

such expensive absence


Little voice singing O

let me be / O let me

be true / O let me


be along the low

chainlink fence

where we drank


champagne before the parade

my tight purple

shorts, ready to strut


to be seen & cruise

behind the shyness

of sunglasses O


bravado of my insecurity

O burgeon / O floweret

How I said each week


I never liked

leisure, I liked doing

nothing, those green


afternoons & bruisedark

nights the stereo sighing: O

efflorescence / O cluster


my little blotsma of spunk

that season our happy faces

filling the streets


with hunger, with openness

summer offering us

its gold throat

Jory Mickelson is a trans writer whose first book, WILDERNESS//KINGDOM, is the inaugural winner of the Evergreen Award Tour from Floating Bridge Press and winner of the 2020 High Plains Book Award in Poetry. Their publications include Court Green, DIAGRAM,, and The Rumpus. They are the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize and were awarded fellowships from the Lambda Literary Foundation, Winter Tangerine, and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico. They are a 2022 Jack Straw Writer in Seattle, Washington. You can learn more about their work at: