Joseph O’Connor

I Gave My Uncle Seashells for Ashtrays

Everyone has one
gay uncle
who has been neatly tucked

Mine took me out for lobster—
smoothed a white cloth napkin across my thighs,
taught me how to snap my wrists

so the whole claw fell
clean into my lap. How to clench
nutcrackers until my knuckles burned

bright as Orion’s belt. I pucker a thin leg as he fingers
his cigarette. Blow fake smoke. How to get to the good meat: split the tail
open by cracking sideways. One day you will realize you are different

like me. The words spread as butter. A gulp of bread
at the bottom of my throat: my make-believe Adam’s apple
stoppering my speech. He orders my first

drink: Shirley temple, extra cherries. I suck it down
without thinking. Don’t let Uncle Johnny take you
to the bathroom. I cross my legs and squirm

like the bottom-feeders orgying
in the restaurant tank—he let me choose my own
red heart, to be boiled alive in clear heat,
to be cannibalized by no one other than myself.

Take a Lover Who Looks at You Like Maybe You are Magic

—Marty McConnell

We fucked like alchemists
teasing taboos underneath the planets. Experimentation

between two boys in a field testing warheads—a dipping sun transmutes
their curiosity: makeshift sundials pointing

no where in particular. He kissed
my mouths, kissed the inside

of my forearm. Doctors stick me
intravenous (he knows). Still searching for tonsils

floating in far-off pickle jars. Watch muscles convex
like when he carries in groceries.

Infinity is moon-crescent fingernails burning figure-eights
into my breast—he brands my obsession.

Like magicicada, we sleep seventeen years in darkness. Wake,
sing brazen through the night. Then fuck. Then die.

Our research hangs in the air, like spiders
crafting invisible silver in the night.

Pluck a shiny pube from his teeth and blow,
like dandelion seeds, like birthday candles.

Years of looking for the needle in my stack. And then you
torch it all to kingdom come, leaving nothing but a glowing
metal slice. It flies towards your magnetism.

Joseph O’Connor is a junior at SUNY Geneseo majoring in English with a concentration in Adolescent Education and minoring in Gender & Women’s Studies. He is the Vice President of Geneseo’s Pride Alliance, as well as the President of Geneseo’s LGBT and Advocacy club on campus. He hails from Lynbrook, New York and enjoys playing Seeker on Geneseo’s Quidditch team. He has been published in Geneseo’s OPUS and MiNT literary magazines.

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