“Gaysail” by Casey Charles

What can I confess,
what rote contrition recite,
what venial idolatry, what butt
worshipped on the Croatian quay,
what sailor skin-tight provokes
my gay incessance, what tan line,
what shot of grappa, musk-made,
what dizzy sea legs burnt by hell-hot rays?

I burn beneath pines on shore,
my cursor blinking with inept modifiers,
finger tips to the touch pad,
tired of holes forbidden, hooks, tricks.
Camp. Commitment. Cheek
too indented to attract more than queens
with flats in Coventry. My cabinmate from Bonn
tunes my instrument like a baby grand.

He blames the Turks. I run from his lips
to the buoyed beach, to behemoths wading,
to a crawl I find more satisfactory, darling,
than the flawed comma of a Teutonic index,
this breast stroke through aqua marine more lovely.
Destined, dare I admit, to ride sea horses now,
collect shells of former selves, skip rocks,
sail Sunfish through sad lagoons.


Casey Charles lives in Missoula, Montana, where he teaches queer studies, law in literature, and Shakespeare at the university. His first book, The Sharon Kowalski Case: Lesbian and Gay Rights on Trial (2003), was nominated for a Publishing Triangle Award in nonfiction, and a collection of essays, Critical Queer Studies: Law, Film, and Fiction in Contemporary America followed in 2012. The Trials of Christopher Mann, his first novel, came out in 2013, and The Monkey Cages, his second, appeared in 2018 from Lethe Press. He has also published two poetry chapbooks, including Blood Work (2013). A full-length poetry collection Zicatela was released in 2018 from Foothills Press. www.caseycharles.com