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Before there were girls, there was you, us.

He-Man, The X-Men. You always had

the bigger collection; I, more imagination:

Let’s use your mom’s yarn; let’s string

a zipline so that our heroes can really fly!

The best part of sleepover: pretend-play

in your bathtub. Pew-pew! Pew-pew! You

can’t get me, Skeletor! Soapsuds make

the best defense. Pew-pew! Pew-pew! Hit

me if you can, Magneto! By the time

your mom called us, our hair was dry, our

fingers prunes, the water cool. Ten more

minutes, please! We’d get five. Then time

for bed. PJs, now! I’d sleep with He-Man;

you, Wolverine. Nothing’s as awesome as

claws! Nuh-uh, a power sword’s so much

cooler! In bed, you’d clench your masked,

gloved mutant; me, my breastplated,

helmeted spaceman. Lights off, gentlemen!

In only nightlight, we’d whisper still,

doing our best to fool your mom, trying to

keep each other awake, too. Heads atop

your X-Men pillows, bodies beneath your

matching comforter, we’d fall asleep,

warm and peaceful, in one another’s arms.


We agreed to date for the summer,

privately confessed we disliked

sex. If, by sex, one means

penetration. We chose

to have none.

Some say That’s cute. Pure.

Oh, if only they knew—there’s more

more ways than one

to be intimate. Heretical.

Surely, we weren’t the only couple.

Little urges to do more than

this: press lips, gently nibble

each other’s curves. No

intention to go much further.

Though we liked to denude each

other, studious, admiring one another’s

ancient marble, neither of us

thought of the other, I want

to screw that sculpture.

It’s a relief you’re not drawn

to figures. I’m not

built like a Roman warrior.

Whatever we may be missing,

we’re no less incomplete

than those defaced,

broken antiquities.

Nor any less unique.

The Church might’ve praised us,

blessed us, claimed us

as models of self-control—fruit

of the Holy Spirit, yet proof of piety.

Sorry to hoist your hopes, Father,

but it would be blasphemous

to call us Catholic. The closest

we ever came to that was incense

and leather, wounds from whips,

collared discipline,

submission. Oh, Oh, mortification! Such pleasure

ended in the fall.

Originally from San Antonio, Texas, Jonathan Fletcher, a BIPOC writer, currently resides in New York City, where he is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing in Poetry at Columbia University’s School of the Arts. He has been published in Arts Alive San Antonio, The BeZine, Clips and Pages, Door is a Jar, DoubleSpeak, Flora Fiction, FlowerSong Press, fws: a journal of literature & art, Half Hour to Kill, Lone Stars, MONO., New Feathers, OneBlackBoyLikeThat Review, riverSedge, Synkroniciti, The Thing Itself, TEJASCOVIDO, Unlikely Stories Mark V, voicemail poems, Voices de la Luna, and Waco WordFest. His work has also been featured at The Briscoe Western Art Museum.


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