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 ladder
against 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: