James Penha

As gay a schoolboy as I was within myself
aware and interested in men—oh! the Yankees
locker room on TV after they won the pennant
half and sometimes even fully naked showered
in champagne—I never fell in love or crush
with my best friends: Not Joey in whose basement
round the corner from me we played storekeeper
amidst piles of canned foods his father collected.
Sure, we dropped our pants and showed off
our little dicks. I liked it. And so did Joey though
I never thought he was queer. We were kids—
showing, not telling, giggling. Simon, Grade 6 bestie
and I spent hours on the phone after days at school,
but without a glimmer of eroticism. He’s a famous
shrink now. I might consult with him about how
I should have fallen head over heels with Jeffy: we
were inseparable through middle and high school—
in school, after school, summer, fall, winter, spring
out of school. I stared at many locker room baskets
in those years, but I never looked to Jeffy that way.
Small then, now Jeffrey is a big-time concert pianist.

Crushes came later. And so did sex. And so did love.
Came. And went. Over and over. But now that I write
this, I want to go back to those early lines and find
Joey. I have no idea where he is or what he does. I just
want to find him and grow up. I want to love him again.

 James Penha (he/him) lives in Indonesia. His newest chapbook of poems, American Daguerreotypes, is available for Kindle. He is the editor of  The New Verse News, an online journal of current-events poetry. @JamesPenha

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