Elton and George

The first time I kissed a man

we were at a straight party

alone in the kitchen

grabbing beers

The Elton John and George Michael

version of “Don't Let the Sun Go

Down on Me” came on the radio

We started to sing along

moving closer to

each other

hands clenched close

to our months

holding invisible


Something older than

Kentucky rain fell

between us

Then we kissed


We had to be careful

getting caught risked a beating

It was like something

out of a goddamned movie

It was then I knew gay men

are better in both style and substance

at almost everything

The rest of the story

isn't so cute

It was 1991

We were falling

in love in a small

town in Missouri

and two years later

he'd be dead

found hanged in his room

because, after all,

this was a small town

in Missouri in 1991.



They say the earth vibrates

a remnant from being dinged

by an asteroid or two before

memory was invented

They say we can't feel it

but I swear to god I can

under foot—ringing

like a plate dropped without

breaking in the kitchen

But the world won't

just crack open, will it

won't just open wide, split

will it

I have fears

and enemies everywhere

There's the goddamn email

The Shadow men

The Mandela Effect

All these superstitions

like straightening empty

beer bottles at the bar until

they barely touch

like reluctant lovers

She moves over to turn

them, to make sure the

labels face the same direction

and there they are

a little army

Sometimes you need

a women who'll help you

straighten bottles

So you can say

I like the way you

straighten them bottles, mama

And sometimes you need

a woman who'll knock them down

Kill with a fist

But no on can do both, right?

That's something no one can do.

And if they start to fall

that's all right

No one can feel us vibrating

No one knows we're about

to split wide open full

of lava and lice

I mean, as long as we're funny, right?

As long as we say funny things

no one will know we're

about to crack

like an egg full

of spiders

Will they?

Daniel Crocker’s work has appeared in The Los Angeles Review, Hobart, Big Muddy, New World Writing, Stirring, Juked, The Chiron Review, The Mas Tequila Review, and over 100 others. His books include Like a Fish (full length) and The One Where I Ruin Your Childhood (e-chap with thousands of downloads) both from Sundress Publications. Green Bean Press published several of his books in the ’90s and early 2000s. These include People Everyday and Other Poems, Long Live the 2 of Spades, the novel The Cornstalk Man and the short story collection Do Not Look Directly Into Me. He has also published several chapbooks through various presses. His newest full-length collection of poetry, Shit House Rat, was published by Spartan Press in September of 2017. Stubborn Mule Press published Leadwood: New and Selected Poems—1998-2018 (available now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble) in October 2018. He was the first winner of the Gerald Locklin Prize in poetry. He is the editor of The Cape Rock (Southeast Missouri State University) and the co-editor of Trailer Park Quarterly. He’s also the host of the podcast, Sanesplaining, about poetry, mental illness, and nerd stuff. He is a bipolar, bisexual Gemini who lives, teaches and writes in Missouri