by Joshua Aelick
You turned the air vampiric
a lanky princeling in dark coat and tails
backing me against the boardwalk rails.
My refusals were as good as pyrrhic;
you wanted to drink, suck ferric
juices from me on these untrod trails.
No one will know. A request made male
by its lack of question mark.
The hills—each stricken with a sickly pine tree stand—
bloomed like colonies of warts
from the jaundiced grasses of the chugging lowland.
The bittern boomed his grave rapport.
You asked if I would sooner die than hold your hand.
My mosquito-bitten palms were so raw it hurt.
Joshua Aelick is a bi+ poet from Raleigh, North Carolina, where they are an MFA candidate at North Carolina State University. They previously completed undergraduate degrees in Creative Writing and German Studies, also at NCSU. They are a recipient of the Guy Owen Memorial Scholarship for Creative Writing, and in 2021, they were the winner of NC State’s Undergraduate Poetry Prize and a finalist for the Grand Prize. Their fiction has won honors in the Writers of the Future contest.