Author: Clifton Gachagua


the memory is there, doubt in the daybed,
perspective has never changed: a child
staring at the mother, and another child

halfway out, in principle, at the heel of the other.

the lovers change, everything does.
but still that one thing and way of seeing,
a turning into crust then, finally, ash.


always prepared for travel,

we come to a dark room

learning everything – cold,

position, desire, courtesy names

– by taste. mars’ hair. we are

not the people on the wall.

you adopt the voice of someone

who works at reception, or

a man who announces arrival.

your mouth is my machine.

some hesitation. then a laying

claim to drought, difficulty in

saying wait, don’t leave, i get full

custody of desire.

it matters little the position of

orange on the wings: we have

the noise in bed and that’s OK.

deo on the tongue.

you offer your arms in times

of bad dreams. you are the bad

dreams. that’s OK.





(a found poem)

I recently spent some time with a gay / friend in Hawaii. I consider myself basically / heterosexual but have had thoughts of anal and/or oral sex with a man but had not acted on those thoughts.

My friend in Maui has one of your Locker Room / fucking machines which he showed me. I accepted his offer to have the experience. He explained the entire procedure to me and I decided to go for it since we’re good / friends and I felt safe and secure in his company. He proceeded to very gently use lubrication / on my anus. I was really nervous but excited. He made me instantly / hard.

Then the first / smaller dildo was introduced into me. I nearly passed / out as it did hurt, but the reality of what was happening to me made me very excited. I eventually was being fucked / by an 8 inch thick dildo at rapid / speed and I can honestly say that I have never experienced anything that intense and erotic in my entire / life of having sex with / women and the possibly 4 encounters of being sucked / off by a man in a porno / shop.

I was absolutely wild and ecstatic / from the experience. After experiencing a total of 4 / shattering / orgasms, I used the machine on / my friend and provided him with a similar / experience. I now know and understand why / gay / men / love / to be / anally / penetrated by their male partners.

I intend to order the same / fucking machine / for my own future / pleasure. It was a real highlight and I loved the experience my / male friend introduced me to. I later had the experience, again for the first time, of being / fucked by my friend enjoying a similar / experience of his penis penetrating me and did the same for him. Again, a totally brand new / homosexual experience for a straight / man willing to experi / ment.


let us talk about pity and syntax

the box of heads you keep under your bed

hair for artificial flavour in cheddar &

hair from the flame tree

the sweet smelling thing

you wish to hide under sixteen years

in the south without a code let us talk about

disguise, a fucking machine of cloud



this is not the magic of song.

i knew one day the transient nature of everything
would not matter anymore. it started with the
history of zanzibar, how it took those ledgers and
long novels to make you come. sleep would not matter anymore.
i saw the day coming. i felt it. you were under water
in a fish tank.
that yellow stone cottage does not matter anymore,
not after what they told us is ‘truth’ and what ‘is’.
yet to have had you while you still believed in something.
the weightless body inside mine like children who are
taught to fear God.
even if it meant having you immediately after your
first true lover,
when he fucked you during your period and & i
begged to clean the blood off his dick
with my tongue.
the silent gray of surgical equipment to those with no eyes,
the way the taste of the wind seemed to
suddenly change, and if our idols have no eyes then
what we did in that room is not anyone’s business. &
you preferred the company of a thief to mine.

what we have shared is a lego dynasty and kings
whose rule ended when they drifted off to sleep.
to say it began as deadwood. that makes you smile.
what if i told you the history of me you have is false,
that this mainly happened in the adverbs,
and the man in my dreams is not in fact my father
but a dead moorish idol finally courting
it’s juvenile lover? what then?
what then that you can only love an aquarist,
or a man who showers with his clothes on?
there is no such thing as the first night
only the study of the beginning of night.
you don’t know it, but i was the first person
the hospital called.
a nice indian nurse told them you could recite
my name, address and phone number, eloisa to abelard
long after the anesthesia kicked in,
that it took you the same amount as a horse might
what begun as a night on a heavy shadow
ended with kojo singing the blues.
this, then, is the time i learned to fear the female
orgasm. form. & more. you will say this is violence.
we know too much of history to deny our fingers
the pleasure of cum & cadmium. traces of heavy metal
in the thing you use only with white women.
that night, instead of grief, i went to a small pub
near the bridge and bathed in black water.
old whit appeared from the water and offered me his balls
in his hands. the fantasies of headless cats cannot be ignored.
i wanted to move into the second floor
of an apartment in pewa, write my last letters to zanzibar.
i went into greater phosphene detail of the nurse’s hair.
& we are dying, you & i. this remains true as the pain moves
from your spine to mine.
here is a way out, you. a small clinic in umoja,
why is it that when i’m in your mouth,
is like feeding a homeless man?
dominion. the league of angels. chocolate cake.
these will be the only things we give freely.
that and newspaper cuttings of dysfunctional
men who kill their children and wives.


we all had our reason for staying in the city,

as the old house at the coast continued to break under the weight of intention,

some mornings were cold, on some days we did not wake up.

mostly the hours watched us become each other.

sometimes i made coffee rings on your skin

as you pretended to be post-pain—

we found more reasons to love amoxicillin. 

the doctor had long advised to stay away from sex & liquor,

and if those boys came to us bearing flags and syphilis,

we ran to them, made them dinner and Leleshwa,

we looked for signs of another country on their faces—

they would be the fact-sheet with which we would learn

to love each other again. 

songs for james ix


not to offend anyone we take the long route to the back of the hotel,
you have the invitation but not their approval. here at the back
you show me where the strings have been sinking into you. it’s
not funny is what i want to say. they keep playing long after
the night is done. you are holding on to something without eyes—
sleep, dread. something distinct i cannot use to hurt you. if it’s
all the same we would like to take the shorter route home. your part
of the city exists in something similar to sulfur oxide. you enjoy this.
this will be the wrong night to come out with no make up. if this were a
low-budget film the moment would be—do not say particulate.
they keep playing long after the night is done. i want to ask if your fingers are done.
it’s cold out, we think of scenes & steam in a busy kitchen.

songs for james viii


down to the pool
of green,
children curved
from stone,
leaves the summary
of their sexes

a dead man
lives in the pump room.

the man in the field
whips his body
with burnt wicker,
his movement coded
by the after effect
of prescription medicine.
either that or
the collective
dreaming of monarch

singular column of smoke and raisin.
the mother snake eats her children.


takes a photograph
of the man’s
sleeping body -
lungs rising,
of a wedding.

you come back
to my arms.