we watch ourselves unwind
in the mirror, camera lenses. reflected back to back in our own eyes.
I love a man who doesn’t know if he can smile when he fucks me,
& who looks back is another man who does know.
we spray ourselves with water in the illusion of sweat & salt.
but it always dries, there isn’t a show here, hon:
it’s all as real as the quiet mobile from which we hang
until the scene’s done. it’s all real. my dark hair,
my chest & mouth dripping with your narrowness.
when you check me out on set
know that I’m not smiling at you, I’m smiling with your whole body,
smiling with your reflected stream of piss caught mid air
by the porcelain for all of us to see & wonder
who’s that careless? that precise? that unafraid?


i vetted in two chambers
one of young men
& one of poker & large hands
that cut my smaller hands
into pieces of clay with string
but i really just wanted yours
mr. speaker, hand of many gavels
an old hook recently rang up
i told him he needed to be
the most honest man in Pennsylvania
or i’d lose interest
this cigar is for you, mr. speaker
i’m not going to lite it
i promise


what we wanted was a sculpture in the round
a man to stand there & carry out all our secret
earth bound memories until just before relief
would iterate them back to us on the other side
what we wanted were real attempts at service
always at the center of every man the same cold
promise always the same route home that I can
stand here in front of my colleagues’ mawing
to chew a couple hours off the national record
for as long as it takes the daft stenographer
to shake off the incessant rattle of our voices
I rise today a Kentucky warrior in a black suit
because I haven’t killed anyone yet but might
but only to pull out another pamphlet flipping
on the marble under our desks like a fish who
leapt into our chamber from the deep recession
of dark drip-drying moments of our social ceiling
a coup in the crown is all we wanted just simple
steep rallies that unfold themselves around court
always doors closing & strong tea drops to fleck
back down poems in the galleries passed back
from mother to child I rise today a serial counter
because the baby on the lap of someone I know
or don’t know can’t see the errors we the podium
use when speaking to each other reluctant bruise
except forgive me I misspoke just now I meant
to say the baby on the lap of someone I know
or don’t know can’t see the arrows we the podium
use when speaking to each other reluctant bruise
our nation has the gut to send to washington once
in a while if the votes are in their favor or if not
at least the fat cigar sacks tilt her brassy scales
towards the biggest bruise the bluest blemish
but no no the senators say sentence first verdict
afterward so that is why we grow old here I guess
reciting sonnets in nightgowns pins on our lapels

RJ Ingram lives in Oakland and is pursuing an MFA in creative writing from Saint Mary’s College of California where he is the managing editor of MARY and works on the staff of Omnidawn Publishing. Lately his three-legged cat Brenda has been behaving like a very good Scorpio by pushing glassware off tables because she lives in North Carolina with her other daddy who is their everything. @RJEquality