Duncan Slagle is a queer poet and performer from Alaska and then Minnesota (USA).
Duncan is the author of FATHER HUNT (L'Éphémère Review) and currently attends
the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a First Wave Scholar studying Ancient
Greek, Latin, and Creative Writing. The winner of the 2018 Crab Creek Review
Poetry Prize, the 2018 Mikrokosmos Poetry Prize, and a 2018 Best of the Net
nominee, Duncan has more work online at duncanslagle.com.
On Being Expensive
I know how to takea gutting
& leave full.
Have you eaten today? Yes.
I like you fat,
Tightens his fist
around my throat & grows hard;
flesh collar / anonymous call
boy; the luxury of the lap dog;
I say I want it whether or not I do.
Yes, I want to be rich
off men, & of men
I am rich— offered this currency / this coat
of oil slicking both our bodies
teasing the ribs, torturing
around Man's metal chain,
his gilded tease, spit feathering
the feverish gold. Worth every penny /
O this copper flame
blooming beneath what I learn to tender
for food. I want it
(green) I want it (flat) in my mouth.
O / this ark, the bed where sweat is sold
for mirrors. On my stomach
where Man places cash
& douses it with lust
& gasoline. To forge
silver / a spoon / a coat
of armor / a Man's signature— —
for the groceries I forget to eat— dumb
O, this burn to sink / beneath
debt / wet / & breathe
again O this slaughter
O, this ache
this arch /
I sat, legs crossed, in the beige
waiting room. The fish in the tank
swam laps. A young boy blew
his nose on his father's sleeve.
I pumped hand sanitizer until my nostrils
burned, then rubbed my hands clean
so I could thumb through another essay
on sex & how to protect myself from shame.
I walked into the doctor's office. I spread
my legs when I sat down. I stripped
in front of the doctor, revealed all my
livewire openings. He touched. Prodded.
I told him I bottom. My spine slicked. Heart
rate racing to a chorus of horses. Last lap.
He withdrew the instrument & left the lights
flickering drunk. I lied about men. I lied naked
in front of the man, back startled against
the rough exam paper. A fish swam through
my skull. I closed my legs. I opened
my mouth. Let him drag each man out of me
one by one, pulling them up like a braid
of hair, studying the knots of faces. I looked
down, into the well, full of alcohol
inside myself, the man, the doctor, staring
clean out of me. I looked up at the ceiling
stained, dripping spit. I looked down, back at
my hands. They were wet. They were not mine.
Sawing the Antlers Off
While boyish, lust was a trick; a sticky door to unlock
then crawl under. Quickly, I learned what power I had
in the company of hunters. How to posture like prey
for an easy ride home. I'd hide my hands in pockets, wait
for my hair to dry & listen to Fiona Apple sing, I'm amorous
but out of reach / a still life drawing of a peach. But I tired
of desiring; unbuckling the belts of men; obeying that
leashed imperative to be useful then. Now, girl enough
for danger, I block Saint Valentine, who begs my
anonymous touch. I crush the thorned neck of a rose
with my heel & learn to cherish loneliness like skinning
a stag. Unzipping the spine first, then gore-slowed hands
use a sharper blade to take the horns off—my trophy.
To look back at his door frame, legs tied to bedposts
& know how to shake free from the knots. Full with my tongue
on the stone-fruit—its heavy sugar. Now, to leave him hungry
& wanting more is the challenge; to leave alive is the thrill;
leaving, at all, reminds me to kiss each exit I reach.
Back to Front.