I still wear my youth

I still wear my youth

enough so that I’m recognized
on the street and in my home,

a ruddy cheeked Christian boy,
skin thin, soul safe as his secrets.

I am a pine talisman to him—
his hope and his chagrin—

who bore me around his neck
who wore me out, to church

beneath his Jesus collared tee.
I carry him in my shoulders

curled, down thin gay finger
lengths, and eyebrows raised

on days I don’t know who wears
whom anymore, kneeling as we

trade prayers.


Washing Order

Back when we were a bathing race

men drew their water before family

gallons in a small tub for cleaning

soap from glycerol and animal fat.

Immersed first of the clan he washes

clay from his feet coal from wrists

accumulated in the ensuing months

since the last. Lifts silt gathered where

joint meets limb and shouldered cattle.

Rinses grime climbed out the prepuce

lip after nights siring offspring who

inherit what he leaves once finished.


Eviction Notice

Drape the plants in tarpaulins,

and wrap the mattresses

in plastic sheets, out back

behind the sagging, untreated deck.

Don’t bother dusting off the mantel.

Leave the dry and twisted garden hose.

Here you have done enough, while

you wait upon the concrete stoop

for the moving truck.



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DAVID K. WHEELER is the author of Contingency Plans: Poems, a finalist for the Melville House 2011 Booksellers Choice Awards. He has written for The Morning News, The Gay & Lesbian Review, Burnside Writers Collective, and has poems forthcoming in Emerge Literary Journal and The Citron Review. Follow him on Twitter @daviewheeler.


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Contingency Plans: poems
by David K. Wheeler

Contingency Plans maps the body, the land, and the hollows therein, eager to determine their dimensions, carried along by possibility, to find that what once made us anxious is out of the question, and what has kept us awake now sings us back to sleep. Note to teachers: excellent for classroom use if you are teaching villanelles and sestinas.

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