Watch the accompanying video here. --- if I die on the dance floor tonight know that I did not go willingly that tomorrow I had dreams of morning breath kisses from a boy I pray is left behind if I die on the dance floor tonight console yourself that it is how we wish for I died doing what I loved surrounded by friends and family peacefully in muted gunfire if I die on the dance floor tonight please don’t stop the music I cannot bare to hear the silence anymore (11/20/2022)
the gays make plans for brunch and when the heteros are upsettero because said gays are late the gays explain that they meant 11 AM G.S.T. G.S.T. is a queer unit of time which means Gay Standard Time or whenever is convenient for my gay ass G.S.T. continues to perplex horologists (horologists are time scientists but also gays that fuck for science) because the only consistent thing about G.S.T. is it’s inconsistency the queens are always late the dykes an hour early the bisexuals seem divided and the queers intentionally input it wrong in their calendar to avoid having to give you a straight reason for not wanting to attend clinical psychology and C.S. Lewis tell us that closets are temporal paradoxes both realm of fantasy and wormholes of trauma nailed together with Christian theology and the fetishizing of innocence - same thing, really he was only five when they began to groom him as a lady killer began to dress her modestly for family gatherings with sticky fingered uncles they tell us we can find absolution in repressing the cardinal sin of desire so we come to believe forgiveness will move the hearts of our abusers who guide us in building pyres out of fags so they can substitue their violence for our sacrifice the Isaacs among us that survive cursed descendants of the desert they who will laugh as wild things wretched heathens and attention seeking horologists are only children robbed of a past drowning in the future and arriving whenever is convenient for them
P.J. Vernon’s second novel is a subversive gut punch to the psychological thriller genre. To say Bath Haus is a disaster the reader can’t take their eyes off of is a sugar coating of the calculated and sinister systematic creation of real world cultural traumas Vernon documents under the veil of fiction for palatability.
Substance user Oliver Park has found an idyllic path to sobriety among the high society of Washington D.C. in an intergenerational relationship with his old-money, trauma surgeon partner, Dr. Nathan Klein. When the good doctor goes out of town for a medical conference, Oliver goes searching for a fix in a bath house, a reckless escapade he narrowly escapes with his life – the bruising of his transgression wrapped violently around his neck.
Covering up the details of his assault, Oliver spirals into a rabbit hole of white lies and duplicity, slowly discovering the sanctuary he’s desperately trying to preserve is a perilous house of cards. When a past he thought was long buried slinks into town, Oliver realizes the predator from the bath house isn’t the only wolf trying to blow it all down.
Vernon deserves praise for delivering an unapologetically queer story in a genre dominated by heteronormative arcs. More impressively, he uses the page as a magnifying glass to lay bare the violence perpetuated against, and by, queer men fighting to survive in a community chained to the abuses of cis-hetero patriarchy. Here is an engineered train wreck, operating and colliding precisely as the dominant culture intends.
An asphyxiating read without a safe word, Bath Haus forces readers to face a question unsettlingly at odds with the modern gay rights movement. Is addiction to domestic comforts really liberation?
entourage of one he sings a karaoke Hallelujah a Monday night mass a church under new denomination faith gave me up over a decade ago but the rituals beg to be remembered the body of Christ as overpriced Pringles grape juice blood as pickle-pear shots this fraternity of broken singing to fill the neon lit vault another COVID death pings ain't it shocking what love can do we swallow this virtue of suffering wrap up against the sobering cold stumble back up the one-way repeating a Gospel no one believes
(a pleasure activism exercise)
I'm at a Marriott in Pueblo putting lotion on my nipples before bed when it hits and I've learned I've got to write it down when it hits I've lost too many poems to I'll remember it in the morning and, like, I don't know if you know this but it's damn hard to write with lotion slick hands and like, I don't know if you know this but announcing that lotion has cured your writer's block on social media leaves way too much to the imagination but damn if writing this thing with lotion slick hands doesn't feel like an orgasm like the one I found tucked between two stanzas in a poem a friend mailed to me last summer I don't know if you know this but turns out lesbians can give their gay friends orgasms let me explain about the lotion ill leave the orgasm to your imagination the Greeks came to lotion by way of Athena Athens chose that owled eyed butch over that totalitarian typhoon Poseidon and in gratitude cerebral Athena planted her spear and from it sprung olive oil like Athena I spend a lot of time up here at a young age the power of a man's hands split me from my body like Hephaestus split Athena from the crown of Zues and when my father disappeared like a poem I swear I'd remember in the morning I still found myself getting lost up here like a sailor at sea without the violence of Poseidon propelling him so I've learned that when it hits I've got to write it down and I don't know if you know this but trauma is a sensory hydra multiplying heads every time someone touches my body every time something feels like an orgasm but I figure if a lesbian can give me an orgasm without even touching my body maybe I can make Athena it's patron like she is up here so I made a promise to myself and I don't know if you know this but we get promise by way of Latin: to let go a promise to put lotion on this polis in front of my mirror every night and I don't know if you know this but a lot can get lost in the translation of a promise let me explain, I feel a solidarity with Medusa looking at herself in Perseus’ shield but I refuse to let this body be stone tonight so I lather promises all over this [body] on these shoulders I promise to shrug off the weight of an Acropolis that belongs to the past to allow myself to wrap these arms around shipwrecks in Poseidon's patriarchal seas to use these hands to help rebuild everything he's washed over to let these legs stop running from and redirect them towards a metamorphosis of my own making to explore this living, breathing, city-state of Pallas Athena all it’s shame ridden nooks and crannies and I don't know if you know this but nipples are so distracting like, so, so, SO distracting so at a Marriott in Pueblo where I'm feeling, like really feeling, these nips with lotion slick hands I make a different promise to these turquoise tips the Latin kind a synonym for pleasure, baby to let go and realize when it hits again I don't have to write it down
I’ve been spending a lot of time with the word unravel I like the way my tongue tosses the syllables holds the spool tight on the roof of my mouth flicks it into the universe off my bottom lip my great-grandfather, Gilpin Red was Colorado’s middleweight champion made a name for himself giving blokes a mean bottom lip carried the shotgun suicide of his father in his fists I think I carry it too at least when opening a can of tomatoes big hands run in the family red stained family heirlooms I reckon that was Grandpa's secret to peaches and my father’s excuse for his hands on me a great-granduncle that killed women a granduncle that killed childhood abuse is just entropy in perpetual motion too many stars collapsing under the weight of their own gravity the remnants of a big bang like the one in Canyon City Cemetery in one hundred billion years from now every one of them will blink out in my lifetime it is predicted heirloom tomatoes will go extinct Gilpin Red's gloves are still on display fraying and begging to unravel I'm still learning who I am still making amends with time still learning how to love these hands knowing they will end with me
For Taryn Kahle
sweltering hour beads of sweat lick my sunburnt nape paddle and soap dish in hand off some nameless bank I slip into the Colorado the Grand the Rio del Tizon the Maricopa the cool lifeforce of this southwest desert as easily as I do into freshly washed sheets naked embraced sweet surrender (I’m still working on surrender) the Colorado, he/they and I have rinsed ourselves our bedrocks of many a lover many a male admirer like John Wesley Powell like the first time I skinny-dipped kissed the first boy I thought I loved I don’t find it outlandish to suggest the Rio del Tizon branded flaming by colonizers is a he/they gay reject the stubborn American West its invasive cis-het white male explorers naming monoliths [ego] bodies of water [conquests] assaulting the feminine [recreation] if the Maricopa is to be called she let it be by reflection by her own accord as he/they is with me on this board cutting through this spectrum an exercise and practice of self-love at once we try and keep things caszh this river and I too thin to plow too thick to drink * if you know what I mean we both know this flight of fancy is seasonal an afternoon delight a summer fling sure to wash out around this bend I look for coupling trout whose rippled darts fleeing my invasion of their coitus promise the end of my own courtship I have always struggled with commitment even when I cannot tell us apart submerged in him/them completely there is peace I won’t grant myself as surely as my head will break the surface I will eddy out return home to routine to khakis and button-ups to commutes and spreadsheets and plastic promotions he/they/I/we will be just another commodity to bottle given back empty at a cost as potential for tourist development as a force that’s agreeable when diverted and funneled, reshaped into productive efficient pools of labor into anything that’s not wild and free and roaring to California to an ocean of love that doesn’t know the meaning of binaries and borders the nature of our familiarity our temporal sojourn privy only to that voyeuristic heron our downy stilt- legged fortune is not about the permanence of our gender but the uncertainty of our futures
* commonly attributed to Mark Twain (to “the Mormons” by Edward Abbey) but unconfirmed by this author
Listen to my first slam poem of 2021 and follow along with the text below.
used to be I called myself a poet thought the words pumped out my mouth were Midas fingers both a blessing and a curse in the way they gave me value in the way my vain prayers will leave me dying of starvation in the way a mediocre white man thinks everything he touches is worth something that’s you and it’s me to be fair I wager it’s more than fifty percent of the room it’s the Democrat in the Oval Office too and we’ve all been cooped up a year and that year has lasted ten years now no satyr, Dionysus soaked, hive mind drinking sweat off strangers on the dance floor and these stanzas turned to gilded victory well they don’t wet the whistle like they used to be I called myself a poet learned how to make a buck spinning trauma into gold in the way my father was no different than the bulk of cis-hetero patriarchs to be crystal clear I mean in the way the nuclear family I mean the nucleus of violence taught me God hates fags turned me into a suicide bomber that survived the plane crash left me with PTSD dreams of what used to be I called myself a poet even published a whole damn chapbook to validate my mental illness thought my depression was “The Secret” like, if I manifested it I’d get that first parking spot at Walmart and there’d be plenty of paper towels and Karen would be wearing her fucking mask properly except the parking spot is applause and manifesting is ideation and the paper towels are Instagram subscribers and Karen, well she’s just a scapegoat for my own accountability cause I can say Breonna’s name five hundred times on stage but that doesn’t mean I’ve done something by the way we still haven’t done something by the way The Secret is gated community new age self-fulfilling prophecy like Christianity if communion was wine and a Xanax but I digress maybe poetry is just self-fulfilled prophecy too both for my manic cycle and this country’s self-determination toward injustice but who even am I if I can’t write some sad gay boy shit, ya know and who even is America without pigs killing with impunity and mediocre white men’s less than mediocre boners for making American great again like it used to be I called myself a poet you ever call yourself a lie so much you start to believe it it’s a trick I learned with lonely turns out middle school accelerated reading was kind of a grindstone for disassociation turns out the crowds who snap my verse enable my addiction to broken but just because it used to be doesn’t mean it has to be which I know sounds like some corny self-help book crap a therapist would use to fill an awkward silence but whatevs I’ll roll with it and call myself happy and call myself loved and call myself worthy call myself alive and maybe, sometimes what used to be is good enough to be again so I’ll call myself a poet
there are days when i wake up buried in laundry under ultraviolet light these clothes would show a bloodbath there's no delicate setting on this spin cycle impossible to separate childhood from the whites from you quit softener and dryer sheets years ago because it all comes back the same one time in fourth grade we all got caught smashing melons in a garden not that cantaloupe is a tough stain it just feels like a kinder way to tell you i don't think i can carry the load today January 6, 2021