The adage is that literature and art are all
about sex and death, but I didn’t come
to watch people die. A lack of sexual desire
doesn’t mean I don’t comprehend passion.
I’ve read Donne. I’ve seen St. Teresa’s Ecstasy.
I know of the three-person God who battered
both their hearts. Kurt Schwitters consciously broke
from all previous traditions by prioritizing
art objects over naturalistic paintings.
As did many of the avant-garde.
He stopped replicating
the world in order to bring three-dimensional
corporeality onto the canvas, and saw everything
as forces he could pit against each other.
His art is a sliver of the world, isolated
in its congealing as it happened. Any chaos
transpired by chance, not intent. We were like this too.
We fought over directions to Empire Cafe
(Yeah, I know, I’ve driven by there a million times.
Fuck. You made me forget what I was going to say.)
which meant we were really fighting
about whether you would stay, if you could pretend
to be happy with me. Melancholic
is how Margot described me that night, a word
that’s supposedly the default affect of queer love.
At least that’s what 19th century literature,
film and television from the 80’s and 90’s,
and my queer theorist former neighbor all tell me.
Maybe melancholy was the wrong word for us.
Maybe gay was always the wrong word.
Or maybe over time gay rotted out
of the fruit basket of words for happiness.
Over time I rotted out
of the word gay. Did you ever think so
at home when your body called and pulled
at my heart in an unspoken whisper. Come,
join me in bed. Eventually I would.
It just took a while.
You said the lack of seasons
made you lose track of the months,
which made me think about the distance
you were building between us, longer hours
with your office door closed.
You stopped kissing me
when I got home. Don’t be so cold.
Summer didn’t end so much
as it flattened like water.
Once, we’d grab each other’s hands
and blow into them when we felt
the crisp brush of autumn. Before then
I never saw another body
as an extension of pleasure (an object).
I never saw an object as a person, never
called my car by a name which my friend
Gwen thought was weird. We were
in college. Made-out
at a party (I was bisexual then) continued
to the back of her car (Stephanie). Later
I told her I don’t know, the space
of my car just feels like an extension of me.
I know what everyone’s thinking, and yes,
phenomenology is my astral sign.
Anthony Sutton resides on former Akokisas, Atakapa, Karankawa, and Sana land (currently named Houston, TX), as an Inprint C. Glenn Cambor fellow at the University of Houston’s Creative Writing and Literature PhD program, teaches in the community for Grackle and Grackle, and is the author of the poetry collection Particles of a Stranger Light (Veliz Books, 2023). An alum of the currently under thread MFA program at Purdue University, Anthony’s poetry has appeared in guesthouse, Gulf Coast, Grist, The Journal, Prairie Schooner, Puerto del Sol, Oversound, Quarter After Eight, Southern Indiana Review, Zone 3, the anthology In the Tempered Dark: Contemporary Poets Transcending Elegy, and elsewhere.