Kevin McLellan

Not an Anthem

any use of we feels self-
serving or assaultive

to you / in other words

you would like his heart
inside of you / though

his disinterest / instead

adopt what he said / each
work has its own imperatives

/ or did he say each word… /

thus another encyclopedic
entry / yesterday’s entry

/not a body bag / an oversized

duffle bag / not EMT’s /
utility workers / further proof

we are unreliable narrators


on Youtube a tattoed

-him with split tongue
/ pointed ears / talks

about sub-dermal

implants at the base
of his shaft / says that

he prefers doggie style

‘cause he can go deeper
/ remember your 20s? /

the San Fran afr-AIDS

years? / now in the cock-
tail years men your age

disappear once you get

close to them / and now
on the other coast in

the safety of this WiFi

café a he-writer dis-
regards desire / yours /

so your cross-country

homo-eyes shift out-
doors to a strobe / not

a disco / a clean street /

the darkness / the trees /
darkness / the tree-lined

street / can’t discern the

bicyclist / can’t discern
if you are too pre-

occupied with appearing

License Plate Number

self-assured in denim cutoffs
/ white tee / Doc Martens /

approaching the Castro / from

behind you a car slows / pulls
into a shallow drive / someone

says something / you turn / face

4 teens in red jackets / out the
open window the driver laugh

-asks do you like it up the ass? /

you ignore him / must continue
walking / from behind hear

the swerving / the car gunning

at you / between a taproom and
a blue house an alley / you up

a chain-link fence / the 4-door

backs up / with all speed the smell
of burnt tires / out of nowhere

a mannish bartender appears / asks

if you’re okay / hands you a book
of matches / on the inside flap

the handwriting / a sequence of

numbers and letters / you return to
the embroidery / the backside of red

Three Men

lean a leggy ladderagainst the building

yours / watching them

from above / from
an open window / you

must decide / close

or keep open before
you leave / now

outside the sky / half

divided by light
and dark clouds / the

other half clear

/ aware of risk
you pause / must

watch / must again

shift the focus to
the moving / the still

Kevin McLellan is the author of Hemispheres (Fact-Simile Press, forthcoming), [box] (Letter [r] Press, 2016), Tributary (Barrow Street, 2015), and Round Trip (Seven Kitchens, 2010). He won the 2015 Third Coast Poetry Prize and Gival Press’ 2016 Oscar Wilde Award, and his poems have appeared in several journals, including: American Letters & Commentary, Colorado Review, Crazyhorse, Kenyon Review, Sonora Review, West BranchWestern Humanities Review, and Witness. Kevin lives in Cambridge MA. You can find out more, here: