Happy Birthday to Poet Terrance Hayes

I first discovered Terrance Hayes over dinner in a sushi restaurant in Los Angeles. Terrance was speaking at the Antioch University graduation and since I was teaching there at the time, we were having dinner with the wonderful director, Eloise Klein Healey, beforehand. It seems hard to believe I didn't know his work --- but this was ten years ago. Now the world knows the work of Terrance Hayes. He's had a good ten years. And very well deserved. Check out his latest book Light Head or just learn more about him right here.

At Pegasus

They are like those crazy women
    who tore Orpheus
            when he refused to sing,

these men grinding
    in the strobe & black lights
            of Pegasus. All shadow & sound.

“I’m just here for the music,”
    I tell the man who asks me
            to the floor. But I have held

a boy on my back before.
    Curtis & I used to leap
            barefoot into the creek; dance

among maggots & piss,
    beer bottles & tadpoles
            slippery as sperm;

we used to pull off our shirts
    & slap music into our skin.
            He wouldn’t know me now

at the edge of these lovers’ gyre,
    glitter & steam, fire,
            bodies blurred sexless

by the music’s spinning light.
    A young man slips his thumb
            into the mouth of an old one,

& I am not that far away.
    The whole scene raw & delicate
            as Curtis’s foot gashed

on a sunken bottle shard.
    They press hip to hip,
            each breathless as a boy

carrying a friend on his back.
    The foot swelling green
            as the sewage in that creek.

We never went back.
    But I remember his weight
            better than I remember

my first kiss.
    These men know something
            I used to know.

How could I not find them
    beautiful, the way they dive & spill
            into each other,

the way the dance floor
    takes them,
            wet & holy in its mouth.
Terrance Hayes, “At Pegasus” from Muscular Music (2005 CMU Classics, 1999 Tia Chucha).


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