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Joseph O’Connor

Review: Panorama Taken While Rolling Down a Hill

I was looking at him & he

was rapt in the sun

leap-frogging over the California valley. A heartless game of king-

of-the-hill: I bury desire with sneaker trampling;

fertilize the green-gold patches.

Hook him

from the armpits. Make him beg

for his uncle.

Headlock & drop

to my knees like two blades

of a crashing anchor:—

Throw ourselves overboard or

to the wind or

whichever he prefers.

We fall head-over-groin-over-


Remember: dicks & balls are just things to punch

or be punched in:—or doodle on his notebook when the teacher isn’t looking.

Who was wrapped in who

while we slow-tumbled like yesterday’s dirty

laundry? How will I re-explain

the grass stains & purpled cheek?

The school-scape still orbiting my sunlit prayer:

When:—O when:—will he punch me again?

Joseph O’Connor is a senior at SUNY Geneseo. He is a student of English literature working towards NYS certification in adolescent education with a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. Next year, he will join the 2015 Teach for America corps as a Secondary English Language Arts teacher in Miami, Florida.  If he were to befriend a fictional character, he would host regular slumber parties with his B-F-F Albus Dumbledore, where the two would paint their nails with magic, share ghost stories, and dish the latest wizard gossip.

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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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Joseph O’Connor

On the Barber Pole

Outside, the red & white needle helixes like a lighthouse:—centrifuges clientele, unraveling
men from boys. A bell alarms as I pass through. Dip behind the dirty aquarium: sink into black
leather couch. Springs push relentless on my tailbone:—try to sperm their way inside. Waiting
makes my thighs sweat. Astroglide forward: Playboy spread like playing cards. Chin down:—
shades drawn over my poker face. Draw one. Lick my pointer:—the ladies oblige, open
their glossy insides [not as smooth as Barbie’s]. I could sense the sudden hair on my
tongue. I was speechless. The barber calls for me in a language I do not speak. No telephone-book
cushion: the firm support of two-thousand strangers. He sits me in front of myself.
Robes me in black. Vibrator whispers in my ears: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Dead cells pepper the air. Chin
up. Hands tell my temples where to look: left. Spins my head like a globe this way
and that. His stomach mushrooms over my forearm as he cleaves my veil. The shock
of buckle metal is cold electricity. He does not see me quake underneath. I do not see him shoot
warm cream on my nape. Sit still while his blade carves me into hard edges. I tip him three dollars
more than my father told me to.

Joseph O’Connoris a student of Literature and Gender Studies at SUNY Geneseo. He hails from Lynbrook, NY. His work has been published in a myriad of campus magazines as well as Gandy Dancer. He hopes to pursue a career in adolescent education after graduation.

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