The fidelity of the heart is capricious, no matter how unbuckled. Ask the speaker of “Traces of Invasion”, who’s busy rifling through his man’s apartment for traces of another man. Where will he uncover the interloper? Who, after all, is the interloper? The magnificence of this stilettoed, melt-on-you-like-molten-butter poem is its crystalline vagueness. It dances on points of suspension, smears fuck-you messages in lipstick on vanity mirrors, and asks you to fill in the blanks.
We don’t know whether the speaker of this poem, the one scouting through the/his man’s digs, is the boyfriend proper, is the fly-by-night shag of the week, is one-third of a seamlessly calibrated trinity. The terms and conditions aren’t fully revealed, but oh, “Traces of Invasion” shows us the stakes, when love’s a tradeable entity — which it always, always is. Listen to the speaker’s sotto voce rage, his honeyed vitriol, when he says
“Does he know? Does he see me
in the streaks of your mirror, or
smell me in the carpet when you
fuck him bareback on the floor
where you like to fuck me?”
I’m so alert to the ways Lowe serves us these trifle-and-gunsmoke slices of revelation, of bitter disappointment and brined satisfaction: clean, and clear, and right between the eyes. It isn’t easy for a poem to do this, to wind itself around you without the commonly-perceived artifice of poetic apparatus. The apparatus, in Lowe’s hands, is like a gun you could take apart in your sleep, like a vibrator that knows the inside of your body better than any man’s rawboned, callused knuckles.
The poem isn’t only a bacchanal. Read beneath the crumpled sheets. Actually, no, inhale them. What we’re after isn’t just sex. We want, despite every wisdom urging us otherwise, to be lived in, to sleep late, loving.
Read “Traces of Invasion” here.
A writer and publisher, Adam ‘Beyonce’ Lowe was a 2013 LGBT History Month Poet Laureate.
This is the ninth installment of Here for the Unicorn Blood, a Queer POC Poetry Reader which runs from June 1 – June 30. Historically, June commemorates the 1969 Stonewall Riots, heralded as the birth of the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement in the United States. #PrideMonth’s global significance, its unabashed celebration of queerness, its marshalling of non-heteronormative joy, resistance and tenacity, motivates this close reading series, which specifically engages the work of POC Queer Poets, in international space. People of colour have been vital to queerness before queerness had a name: this is one way to witness that, to embed my reading practice in it, and to raise my brown, queer fist in yes.