"What's the world for you if you can't make it up the way you want."

-Jazz, Toni Morrison


D loved to suck cock then take it up the ass.
He would cruise the local bus station after 

midnight because he knew that was the best
time to go “fishing” as he put it: for night crawlers.

The rocks turned over & there they were: thick,
juicy, slimy, squirming in darkness hiding, so as not

to get caught I slept over at D’s house one night
in the same bed he offered me a hand job 

in the morning when he reached to find my 
morning wood he said I can whittle away

at your man-stick for you, but I turned him 
down, something I regret to this day.

I was naïve, still in high school & I have D
to thank for telling me: be sure to spit on it

or use some lotion for God’s sake!
D gave me a gold cross necklace when I left

later that morning on the way back to my
parents’ house I stopped my car, rolled down

my window & hurled the cross into a nearby creek 
from the only bridge that lead to & away

from D’s place on a street whose name I can’t 
recall. D got HIV, then AIDS followed a couple years 

later. Even while dying, like when he lived
D always made everyone laugh. He could have been

a successful stand-up comedian anywhere,
but instead dreamed of going to Florida or Nassau

before he finally died. That was before the life-saving cocktail
they would invent. Years later it came out after his death

and on some nights when I can’t sleep & I go down to the local bus
station. It’s always a quick stop in this small town with just a few stalls. 

Bill Garten has a B.A. in English from Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio and graduated from Ashland University’s MFA Program in Creative Writing in Ashland, Ohio in 2018. He is also the winner of The Emerson Prize for Poetry and The Margaret Ward Martin Prize for Creative Writing.

Cover photo by Vinicus Amano on Unsplash

The Oldest Tree in the World Has Something To Say

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