Two Poems by James M. Croteau with Art by Vivian Calderón Bogoslavsky

Needlecast

 

I didn’t know to save the many pieces

hatred splintered off my teenage body.

 .

There were no 50,000 It Gets Better videos.

So I hadn’t heard of hope, never

 .

thought I’d have a kitchen table

where I could jigsaw the fragments

 . 

of my body’s pleasures back together.

My puzzle’s sun is shaped uneven

 . 

with borders like the state of Illinois–

bare Formica table where passion’s

.  

orange pieces should round out

the mountain sunset. But I’m ok.

 

I’ve got friends, two good dogs,

and steady work. I’ve loved

 . 

a man for 30 years. We chop vegetables

together, take turns hauling dogs to the vet,

 .

alternate who drives on New England

summer trips. Each late November,

we fresh cut an evergreen, trim it bright

with well-placed lights and ornaments.

 .

We turn it carefully so gaps in green,

misshapen limbs, and faded ornaments face

 

corner walls in our living room. The tree’s like

me. Despite appearances, there’s never not

 .

an absence. No amount of sanding soothes

passion’s jagged edges. I feel pruned apart,

 .

but I lament lost pieces less, knowing Needlecast

disease is near universal in firs and spruces.

 .

Many people must turn their Christmas trees.

"What Dreams May Come" by Vivian Calderón Bogoslavsky (c) 2015
“What Dreams May Come” by Vivian Calderón Bogoslavsky (c) 2015

After Mass and Harvey Milk

Brady Murphy slipped off

his cassock and I knew

myself by catechism’s

condemnation. Gone

.

were my thin arms extended

through folds starched white surplice,

holding high his cross, processing

down center aisle, gone

the congregation in full song,

my skinny body filled

with Holy, Holy, Holy.

.

Gone till I braved my way

on a train from Kankakee

to a Chicago art house cinema

to see his life, his work,

his murder. To join

my heart in the procession

of my new-found kin

with their small flames

in a holy, holy, holy line

through the Castro’s night.

James M. Croteau lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan with his partner of 29 years, Darryl. He grew up gay and Catholic in the south. His poems have appeared in New Verse News, Assaracus: A Journal of Gay Poetry, Melancholy Hyperbole, Queer South: LGBTQ Writers on the American South and others. He blogs about his writing occasionally at talkingdogsholymen.blogspot.com.

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Vivian Calderón Bogoslavsky is a Colombia Native born to Argentinian parents. She holds a bachelors in anthropology with a minor in history and a postgraduate degree in Journalism from Universidad of Los Andes in Bogota, Colombia.