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  • Tealight Press

Open by Ollie Charles

Whenever I see

your flashing lights

the roar that never ends

block upon block

and towers

punching up through the clouds,

I never feel overwhelmed.


As I wander through the crowds

groups huddled together

smile after three

clicks of digital cameras

and pictures that will live on screens

never to be looked at again,

I’m at ease.


I try to imagine what it would be like

to live amongst your secrets

revealed only to those willing

to give the time

to understand your moods

and settle into your distinctive patterns.


Curiouser and curiouser

you tempt me

tease me

send me on a journey to another world

where yesterday’s person is different to who I am today.


At some point,

I might come upon somewhere quiet

a nook

a crevice

a gentle hand upon my shoulder

a squeeze

and I will feel accepted

warm

full.


The plumes of steam,

through rusty grates

unnoticed, forgotten, wild.

Sending me into a dizzying state

making the streets look like exhibits

captured in the briefest of moments

caught between the present

and all that came before.


I’ll catch a glimpse of you

playing your guitar

sun bathing

writing poetry

sipping a soda

or waiting for Godot.

Or scanning the shelves

surrounded by every word

ever written.

I’ll hear you whisper gently

in my ear

pointing out something I missed

and I’ll become even more enchanted by

your new fashions

and old fads.


Out on the streets

I’ll feel free

as people congregate

here and there

talking languages I’ve never heard.


You are open

but sometimes

heels get caught between the grates

people charge past

without looking up from their phones

I hear faggot yelled

and duck for cover.


Bricks are thrown,

and here we lay our bones down to rest—

no longer treated like second class citizens

but loud and proud.

So beautiful.


support gay power

we are open.



For Marsha and Sylvia



Ollie Charles (he/him) is a queer writer of prose & poetry. He enjoys exploring gender, identity and pop culture within his work. His poem, HOW TO FALL IN LOVE, was a placed winner in the Streetcake Experimental Writing Prize (2020). His poetry has also featured in Lucky Pierre Zine, Queerlings, Poem Atlas and The Babel Tower Notice Board. His short story DILATED PUPIL will be appearing in Inkandescent's MAINSTREAM anthology (July '21). Ollie is also co-founder of Untitled, a literary salon founded to amplify the work of underrepresented writers, and co-editor of Untitled: Voices, a global online journal.

Twitter: @OllieCharles

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