Lodestar Quarterly

Lodestar Quarterly
Figure reaching for a star Issue 3 • Fall 2002 • Featured Lodestar Writer • Poetry

Boys in Foreign Climes

Michael Lassell

Desire is a vacation taken on your own.

As if in Rome you sit after dark, and the waiters are
Caravaggio's boys idly posing in tight black slacks,
white aprons hiding luxurious laps. Then, animated,
chatting, they point at you and, for all you know, share
erotic enticements from ill-remembered Boccacio tales
to lure you to their starkly unkempt rooms. What climax
can you imagine as you stare into pasta puttanesca
instead of thick tiered rows of lashes ringing lax-lidded
eyes, Nubian gladiators in themselves and darker than


Busloads of Germans mistakenly massacred in front of the museum where a teenager with nothing on his mind but you drinks water from a liter of Evian you bought in Bethlehem... and you kiss the neck of the bottle instead of his to slake your parching thirst. He wipes his mouth on the Nile-blue sleeve of his jacket and thanks you with a trusting smile. You stare into his Nefertiti eyes, not knowing whether to drown in them or grieve, as his attentive teacher bustles to apologize amid the general racket of schoolboys and tourists -- you in agony to brush your bated breath across the boy's sweet upper lip, dusted with a new mustache. Had all Egypt been a snake, you could have swallowed it


As if a boy in dark blue stripes by the Brandenberg Gate
stood shivering... No, that was me, alone as usual in the face
of a monument -- the confusion mine, the ludicrous fate --
the desire that of an older man whose calcified heart was


A boy who makes you shudder -- is he faintly Asian? -- strolls through the Degas show at the Metropolitan of New York City, and one who is only a black-framed painting by Delacroix; still, he makes you weep under the domed skylight with pity and a sudden overwhelming wanting of him and water. Why can't you will yourself to move? There is so much open beauty in his French-blue eyes, your weary old legs, thick as a peasant in pigment, prove useless, your panting heart


Michael Lassell

Michael Lassell's first book, Poems for Lost and Un-lost Boys, was the winner of Amelia's first annual book award; his second, Decade Dance, won a 1990 Lambda Literary Award. He is the author of A Flame for the Touch That Matters, Certain Ecstasies: Bedtime Stories, Elton John and Tim Rice's AIDA: Bringing the Broadway Show to Life, and Disney on Broadway, as well as co-editor, with poet Elena Georgiou, of The World in Us: Lesbian and Gay Poetry of the Next Wave, a finalist in the Library Association of America's annual lesbian and gay book awards as well as a Lammy finalist. He is currently articles director for Metropolitan Home.

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