Categories
2019 Poetry

Kevin West

EVERYTHING YOU’VE BEEN TOLD ABOUT
[BEING A PARTNER] IS A LIE

You’ll only love me when I become a man you accept,
a centerpiece to place on the tablecloth. That ignores feeling
ecstasy when I’m on my knees in a bathroom stall. I’m adept

at changing habits. I can play the good partner—refashion latex
and leather outfits into an apron. I can wash a dish. But my need
for other men is like an irregular heartbeat; a constant defect.

You’ll only love me when I become a man you accept—
a phone without hookup apps, a dick-free home screen.
Who remembers affection buried behind skeletal muscle—

a tumor you pried free. And for this, I’ll let my impulses be corrected,
each silicone toy repurposed—hangers for scarves and keys.
Replace spontaneity with sex where we maintain eye contact.

You’ll only love me when I become a man. You accept
what can be contained—my body in a net of perfect teeth,
button downs, watches, wingtips. But if I give all of myself, I suspect

you’ll only love me. When I become a man you accept,
we will buy a sturdy house on a tree-lined street.
A picket fence whiter than bone. Posts sharp enough to protect
the life you’ve made, on which I’ll lay my neck.


Kevin West is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of North Texas. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Ploughshares, Pleiades, The Journal, Puerto del Sol, The Meadow, and elsewhere.