Two Poems

by Ben Togut


Nominated for 2021 Best of the Net

I excise the man like a thorn 
from my body—a fantasy.

Nothing is clean & surgical
about this. A man caresses me 

& again in the dark gasp 
of summer I am wingless. 

A man caresses me & the poem
rewrites itself. Back in the dorm room, 

the boy pushes me against a wall,
my body cello-like against his.

I could tell you all this & more
but what good is in the telling?

The past is an animal with its teeth bared.
I’ll end here: last autumn I laid beneath

a man—his lips clumsy, his breath 
ripe with cigarettes—& I did not want

to die. As I slipped from his room
& into the cool air, I couldn’t stop

laughing, my voice a black aria
pealing through the night

a quiet victory.

Explaining the Poem about The Assault to My Mother

Let the curtains be blue,
a cheap veil against the world.

There is no metaphor here,
no hidden meaning unfurling

like a sullen flag in the breeze.

There is no grace in this.
In the room’s dark embrace

only silence—one boy pleading
for the other to open.

Photo from Denali NPS