BY ROBIN ESTRIN
“Eating too much meat gives you indigestion
and evil thoughts make you eat too much meat.”
-Gertrude Stein, Wars I Have Seen
The boy was door after door
of misfortune: He needed to talk
about his father: I did not shake him to tell
him there was no future: It was the summer
after the winter of Peter: He mistook me
for art. I wanted his touch in public places:
Art Institute & Addison Red Line,
backseat of Vienna’s Camry: I wanted
what I wanted. Men are not meat
but they are men. They name you
in the stories they publish online: tag Non-Fiction
& Relationships & Bicycles.
They name the city you live in
and reimagine your good sex.
Here is the thing about Cal. Cal’s the kind
of guy wearing a helmet when his bike-
brakes cut out on his ride home from work
as a Segway tour guide; who smashes his face
into a concrete pylon, rips his denim shorts
and his ballsack; who catches a flesh-eating
virus at the hospital, MRSA; who’s never seen you
laugh as hard as when he tells you
& you want to vomit, or jump into a vat
of hydrochloric acid; who says this is what happens
when bad things happen. People blame you.
Men are not meat. Meat doesn’t get sick.
The way he writes it, we kissed in Urgent Care
wearing surgical masks like Magritte’s lovers.
Here is the truth: I thought he was dying
so I held his hand.
Robin Estrin lives in Santa Cruz, California, where she works with the Young Writers Program, a non-profit that organizes creative writing projects in classrooms countywide. Her poetry has appeared in the Chicago Quarterly Review, Catamaran Literary Reader, Potluck Magazine, and Miramar Poetry Journal, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.