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.

Say yes.

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

the tongue.

Mouth invited

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 /

this arson.

Test Results

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.

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