Roman is running the LA marathon.
It’s no touch. No high fives. No kissing.
It’s the time of the virus. What might
have been if the world responded
to gay death in the ‘80s with this level
of alarm? On the dance floor at Akbar
you are so beautiful. I watch other guys
look at you and hope you’re going home
with me. And then you do and we sit
on my porch smoking pot and talking
about portals. You point out Venus
and I go back when we met, two years ago,
watching the stars drunk and high
on a stranger’s lawn. Agnes Denes says
Anything important has to be almost
invisible. And underrated. And strong
enough to hold the earth. And I wonder
if you know, I’m thinking of you now.
You, in my bed, my hand on your inner
thigh, taking you in slow so later—now—
I can feel you when you’re gone.
The runners and those watching are not
wrapped in protective suits. They are still
living their lives in the last open moments.
Every shape, every kind of movement.
I love them at this moment. I miss them
like I miss you. Mountain missing fire.
Click here to read Jeffrey Perkins on the origin of the poem.
Image: “Fire above” by indigoMood, licensed under CC 2.0
Jeffrey Perkins: I wrote an early draft of “Volcano” right after the L.A. Marathon and before the stay at home order in California was announced. As I began to spend all of my days inside my small three room house I continued to go back to the poem and work on revisions as my experience of the quarantine shifted. We’ve all been on various personal journeys since the pandemic began but all of us have had to rethink our relationships with each other. Human connections became fragile. The relationships I had before the pandemic felt more important as those connections faded into the past. Now, the Black Lives Matter Movement has energized the streets of Los Angeles albeit with masks and more space between us than we might want. The streets are alive with people standing up against systemic racism and police brutality and toward justice and a People’s Budget. Our connections shift and mature as we discover how much we need each other and what might be possible for us to do together.