from a queer man who grew up with whitman

I. “In the stillness his face was inclined towards me, while the moon’s clear beams shone, And his arm lay lightly over my breast—and that night I was happy.

that night i was happy. and it was not moonlight i saw but instead the orange glow of the lights that sit on your bedside table the ones that give your face the softest edges—the ones that break my heart with how much i love you.

II. “Does the tide hurry, seeking something and never give up?

and i never really knew that you were everything i had been searching for since i was old enough to be left alone on the beach when my aunt told me that she would be back in a while and i walked home alone as the sun set and the tide came in; the broken old man on the corner asked if i had a light or a dollar to spare and i told him that i, like him, was lost. i like to remember it as if you were there that day, as if you walked me home as if you soothed my unsettled heart with the colors of your eyes. they still look like oceans to me.

III. “I write these pieces and name them after it.

i wish there was space on your skin for me to write every great love poem ever written and title each one with your name. i would be patient, gentle, treat each piece of you as delicately as god did when they built your perfect masterpiece. and i say god only because i cannot imagine that anything other than divine was able to contrive something as immaculate as you.

IV. “Publish my name and hang up my picture as that of the tenderest lover,

there is nothing i want more than to make each of my truths known to you. to lay in bed, our bare skin the only thing between us. and i want to tell you every second of my life, to let you hold every memory in your hands. i want to kiss you in the warmth of the lights by your bedside table and i want it to feel as if we have fallen into every lover’s cliche. and i want to watch you fall asleep with your head against my chest, and i want to let you break my heart every night for the rest of my life.

Silas Maxwell Switzer is a queer high school junior, musician, and poet. He uses he/him pronouns. After spending most of his childhood immersed in the arts, especially poetry and music, Silas has a deeply-held love for both language and music. His work tends to be deeply emotional, with themes of love, neurodivergence, and personal struggle.