Edward Palmquist

For the last ten years, I have been hiding a lot of myself from people. The biggest thing immediately being that I’m gay and I only recently came out. I don’t want to make my sexuality a big part of my personality. Rather I want to stop feeing self-conscious about this and other parts of Coming Out + Speaking Up

It’s strangely warm as I become aware of my surroundings.
Twilight bathes the reeds as I brush them aside.
Cries of nearby fauna drift through the air
a chorus neither welcoming nor scornful.
Across my periphery,
infinite headlights come into and out of existence
anonymous yet comforting

The red tones of the brick walkway
were accentuated by the blood
which had pooled across it.
My bus had yet to arrive
so for the time being I sat and watched a woman
attempt to remove the stains.

Your eyes are disquieting
cold and unaware
as you slowly slip away.
I’m here beside you
sitting on a cheap foldaway chair
stained and yellowed foam cushioning
visible only in parts where the green leather
has cracked and chipped away.

The falling debris is frozen
motionless as it silently saturates
the air around us.
As we walk through it all
pieces brush against our cheeks.

Don’t look out the window.
Just stay in my arms a little longer.
Overhead, the roar of planes can be heard.
If it all were to end right now
how would you prepare yourself?

Shutting out the sky
You close your eyes.
The clouds are fleeting
Their impermanence is unsettling.
You don’t wish to be disappointed
So why become attached to such things?
You’ve never really loved
Or maybe you find a different meaning in the word.

The corn grew dense in the field behind my childhood home. Their rich leaves rustled as I brushed them aside. Where had you gone off to? I looked up at the sun that was then directly overhead.

Earlier that afternoon, I had waited anxiously for the doorbell to ring. Though my mother watched a few of the local children while their parents were busy, you were the only one that was my age. You had blond hair, cut short in a sort of sexless manner. I too once had golden hair, but over the years it darkened into “dirty blond” and finally settling into a rather generic brown with a few rare blond strands.

Sunlight brings a sour end
to a seemingly non-existent sleep.
I blindly reach out towards my bedside table
seeking my glasses
for what is life without clarity?
A blur.

Too numb to move
after a long day’s swim
I give myself up to the waves.
It’s so cold as I sink down
deeper into the water.

Grey flecks in your eyes
fragments carried by the wind
I try to catch them.

The wind seems so careless
as it disturbes the petals.
So fragile…

The grass is warm to the touch
yet it irritates our skin as if in reproach.
So naive…

Removing the old tarp
a beautiful oil painting long hidden away.
I’ve kept it safe for you.
The colors’ contrast is glaring
yet the differences are in perfect balance
like ours…

The windows are dimly lit as we walk by.
There’s a man reading alone in one
A couple watching a movie in another.
All of them seem warm, yet something is missing.

The tools we carry, axes and such
Are cold in our hands yet their precise designs
Represent accomplishment, innovation
And the long nights spent in toil to achieve such things.

The sound stirs me
and draws me to the window.
I pull open the curtains
and gaze out curiously
into the night.
Amidst the shadows,
her flesh stands out pale
in the moonlight.

How long have I been asleep?
Roughly three hours sir.
Where is my wife?
Dead, along with your two sons.
Did they die happy?
They were together if not happy.

High up on a hill
the one we used to climb
when we were children
I alone now sit.
Around me is a powder
too white to be sand
ashes that taste of bitter Septembers

The metal is cold against my skin
Above me, a light exposes
my flesh with ultraviolet scrutiny.
Around me, others are watching
their gaze unavoidable.

I saw you driving by yesterday.
Through the distortion of the window
it was difficult to make out your face.
Yet I knew it was yours all the same.
Your head was held high as if
you knew I was watching.

She’s dancing barefoot
over a sea of broken glass.
Nobody bothered to warn her
of the danger of sharp edges.
Her world is simpler,
one of satin and curves.

Gentle waves teased the shore.
Street lamps glowed
pale in the distance.
There were people walking
along the other side of the river
“Ignore them,” you said.