Peter

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for Mark Doty

Peter asked for it in his blood.
Salt water ocean spray escape
were never enough.

The human defect
is caring too much,
fingernails skin and harder things,

acceptance.
He could have written LOVE
on his wrist with a paperknife.

He’d bleed a rainbow
his DNA, all the fibers genes
anatomy of personality

that make men like he
born-natural-from-God freaks.
He could have put

a silver bullet in his brain.
He traded himself for lipstick
paper tiaras rebellion,

a joint or a vodka can make a man
a woman in the right light,
vanity for a kiss on the cheek,

promiscuity for a welcoming shoulder,
hand down his pants,
someone wanted him for something.

Reality was a dying brain cell,
one last chance
to look at a man

like any woman could,
to escape being the secret,
a regret to be borne.

Reality was behind a dumpster,
a broken nose running mascara
dirty needles sex,

no Bible thumpers in a dumpster
bath house. It was all Peter could do
to ask for it.

—Katie Riales

Katie Riales is a twenty-two-year-old student and gay rights/AIDS prevention supporter. Of her poem, she says, “It was inspired by Mark Doty’s poem ‘Tiara.’ This is a response to his beautiful words.”

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