When we were dating,
I used to come to the fast food
restaurant where you worked and eat
with you on your breaks. We’d order
two large fries and you would dump out
both cartons on the tray, teaching
me to share while I dipped my fries in
mayo and ketchup and you dipped
yours in sweet and sour, not knowing
the sour was yet to leak out of
Read My Lips
On our one-month anniversary
I learned that you could read lips.
I put your powers to the test.
I mouthed my order for you to transcribe
for the confused waitress.
I spent the whole meal mouthing
my thoughts and jokes and dreams.
I gladly footed the bill because for the first time,
I felt solid in the world, I felt present.
When we would wake up together,
in the soft angelic glow of morning light,
I used to run my tongue down your back,
blowing chills into your spine,
feeling like a god as I watched goosebumps and faint hairs rise.
I would spell out I LOVE YOUs and I WANT YOUs
and you could sense every letter.
I felt your weight in my bed, your presence,
you truly and totally tethered to me.
For the first time in a long time, I felt acknowledged.
Sometimes I lie awake in the dark,
worrying about work and money, dreading the approach of death,
caught up in the cacophony of this harsh world
and I wonder if you are able to read my mind,
because as if on cue, you rub your foot against mine,
nuzzle yourself into my arms as if you know
I need something to hold on to, to keep myself
from floating off into my own anxiety
and I know that I am seen. I am heard. I am
Shower Drain Lovers
Sometimes I leave you messages on the shower wall,
stray hairs molded into an I ❤ U
but they are never acknowledged, never appreciated, talked about, or replied to.
They are only washed down the drain
as if this effort from my morning brain was all in vain.
I hope somewhere out there, there is a shower drain you,
made up of your stray hairs,
that is reaching out for me.
I hope he is moved by little gestures,
tangled up in love with a shower drain me.
we aren’t meant to put all this pressure on each other,
like we are the only ones for each other,
like we have to serve and fulfill and be everything for one another,
we could be open to lightening the load on this lonely, heavy heart.
I fill up the car and drive to your place.
Everyone’s driving slow on the highway,
there must be a cop or an accident nearby,
some warning to slow down.
Laugh and make jokes, flirt and flutter.
It usually doesn’t happen this quick,
must be something in the water wetting appetites,
something calling us to speed up.
Kiss kiss him, kiss me, kiss us, kiss kissing you
Touch touch us, touch him, touch you, touch touching me
You were speaking in tongues of ecstasy.
We had been searching
for someone who could speak our
language. Someone who
could tap the source of passion
burrowing deep in our bones.
Like a forgotten word
in a forgotten tongue,
you left me feeling hopelessly incomplete,
You were sad and liked to lie there broken,
to wallow in your sad boy, boy toy misery.
I was sad and I liked to fix things to distract myself from my pain,
to mend things made me feel less broken.
I thought it would work out perfectly,
like I could help piece you back together,
sew up your seems, solder your hinges,
fix your fissures, clean the rust from the gears around your heart,
paint the sunshine back into your eyes,
that I could fix you and then you would love me,
that you would lay on my lap, find a fondness for me.
But boys are not toys and I am not a toymaker.
Charles K. Carter is a queer poet and educator from Iowa. He shares his home with his artist husband and his spoiled pets. He enjoys film, yoga, and live music. Melissa Etheridge is his ultimate obsession. He holds an MFA in writing from Lindenwood University. His poems have appeared in several literary journals. He is the author of Chasing Sunshine (Lazy Adventurer Publishing), Splinters (Kelsay Books), and Salem Revisited (WordTech Editions).
More of Charles’ work can be found here on Ink Pantry.