I know you
by the many names
you use for camouflage:
fbuds, blow bud, Netflix and chill,
bennifriends, “maintenance,” white boy toy, afam.
It would be as if we had labels: / how we would lay atop each other’s body / —flesh of
oyster hinged on its shell— / for hours, how we would converse / over cigarettes about
the abstract depth / after it. We both prefer Marlboro Ice Blast, / “the brand for
construction workers and security guards,” / said some pretentious poet-wannabe.
Always, the bland air freshener of motel rooms, stained thin blankets on uncomfortable
beds, thrifted sachets of shampoo and toothpaste, a strand or two of your naturally
blonde hair on the pillows, thin bars of that soap brand promising 100% skin germ
protection as if it can be cleansed us at all.
Always, I leave first. But this time, you offered a ride home. “Are you my Uber driver
now?” Instead, along the lonely highway between General Luna and Del Carmen, in
between quarantine checkpoints, you decided to recite a line that has haunted you
knowing I was some exiled poet with a dark past. (I expected Goethe or Rilke.) Richard
Siken, you lectured in your guttural English, once wrote, “You are feeling things he’s no
longer in touch with.” I knew the poem by heart but I only wanted a versa, not a verse.
And finally, / the design of digital nonchalance: / unseen chats, unreturned calls,
ghostings of the living. This / is how you hunt me. But / I cannot give what I do not have,
was all / I said. The rule we both created / in our compact of bodily fluids: Always, /
there shall be no care, only craving. / This is how you haunt me: wet dreams / of
shared shower baths, your musk still / on my shirt.
To my little feast,
I cannot invite you in. Hunt,
haunt. I cannot let you
partake in this
Alton Melvar M Dapanas (them/they) is assistant creative nonfiction editor of London-based Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel and Iowa-based Atlas and Alice Literary Magazine, as well as an editorial reader for Creative Nonfiction magazine. They identify as pansexual, nonbinary, and polyamorous. A native of Metro Cagayan de Oro in the Philippine South, they are currently based in Siargao Island, living off-the-grid in between the Pacific Ocean and a mountain range.
Image by Emiliano Vittoriosi on Unsplash