Learning Stillness

I am a turtle, wherever I go I carry “home” on my back.
—Gloria E. Anzaldúa

I cannot move into a skyscraper, fulfill the scripted migration
of small town queers. My metronormative invitation
was rescinded—the cost of HIV meds snipped the shoestrings
of my runway Marco Polo boots. HIV is living

near Wal-Mart price tags, concerned childhood faces
quick to lather after I exhale. I play the hometown cadaver—
the object lesson at the end of their fairy tale,
the antihero unlearning how to carry home on my back.

Kiss My HIV

I am an easy commodity—you can find me in a clearance bin whistling tumbleweeds. Please touch my cheek; I promise to pick out the floating crumbs from your sink. I’m a new frontier and the boys are afraid to play. You’ll learn that my saliva is as harmless as a sweating pitcher of lemonade (I’ll have one waiting for you every evening). I miss my old centerfold role—the pink lip boy ready to pierce a heart, hoard lachrymal droplets in tiny cellophane tubes. Don’t spend a penny of concern on my empowered past—I’m desperate for a furry hand that doesn’t flinch, doesn’t chill with an entombed shiver. Christ’s boulder encloses all breathing corpses unclaimed by the end of business hours. Rescue me from this crypt by the Galilean Sea and you may use me however you please.

Charles McGregor teaches composition, rhetoric, and creative writing at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV). He is also the Nonfiction Editor for the literary journal riverSedge, which is run by the MFA department at UTRGV.  When not daydreaming of ideas for how to make an awesome classroom experience for his students, he likes to compose creative works tackling difficult queer issues in the Southern United States. Some of his works can be found in modest literary magazines such as Crab Fat Magazine, Boundless, Portland Review, and Five:2One Magazine. You can find links/info to some of his published works at