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Poem: "Gay Street" at "Grand Little Things"

Some poems take a long time to create but every once in awhile, I can pen one in my head. This particular one, "Gay Street," was written during the walk from the Stavros Narchos branch of the New York Public Library on 40th Street and Fifth Avenue back to my apartment on 47th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues. That's about 20 minutes and while I wasn't exactly finished when I got home, I did have it all sketched out and had completed a first draft within an hour. After a good night's sleep, I did a little more tinkering -- breaking the rules for that final line of the villanelle -- then sent it to Grand Little Things which not only accepted it the same day but published it two days after, too. That's got to be a record turnaround for me!

Gay Street

There’s a little game I like to play

when I’m on the street and on my own.

What it means I hesitate to say

‘though it does have to do with my being gay

and the men who I pass as they walk alone.

There’s a little game I like to play.

I would not say that I play this game every day

or that this is behavior that I condone.

What it means I hesitate to say:

fantasies about men who cross my way,

lurid matchups with well-toned, mustached clones.

There’s a little game I like to play

that’s like a little game once called “Betray”

or “Cheater’s Choice” or “Cum what may.”

What it means I hesitate to say

but the new game’s pretend. I need not pay

the piper. There’s nothing here to atone.

There’s a little game I like to play.

What it means I hate to say.

First published in Grand Little Things (September 17, 2023). Photograph (original titled NYC - Greenwich Village - Gay Street and recropped then tinted pink) courtesy of its creator Jean-Christophe BENOIST. Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0).

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