Dean Boskovich

Not to go all Rodney Dangerfield on you 

all hacky sack back and forth binary 

but how come men always write poetry like

they've got something to prove? You didn’t

swallow lightning bro. You’re addicted 

to cigarettes. I’m telling you, whiskey isn’t therapy 

I tried to write a poem about a storm in honor

of the strong mid west boys walking into 

Walmart in wife beaters 

while the rain pelts and the forecast calls 

for golfball sized hail. Man I know you 

know how big a golfball is. 

It was something about 

Thunder cloud’s steel engine turns it over and over

Triple axle clouds rain, never sleep in the plains,

Catalytic collision fumigates the lonely sky’s exhaustion 

Yo what the hell 

men can turn rain into oppression, watch 

the lilac bloom, think only of thunder and lightning.

I try to think of a storm as a roaring engine so

sunny days can be cold 

and still 

and calm, 

the way 

I thought 

I needed to be. 

We all imagine ourselves an island, let the rain

hit us and never flinch, stand straight up 

in a rushing river of self repression and pretend

we will not erode. Baby, I’m pure obsidian. 


The older boys always called me a faggot so I

swallowed a spindle and called my friends

faggots. The older boy held me down, rammed

a wooden pole, over and over, into where he

was never invited; I swallowed a sunflower and

buried it beneath the birdhouse in the closet. 

Why did I grow up breaking my feelings into

shards of glass on the pavement? We took our

trauma and wrapped it around our hands and 

wrists, taped them up nice and tight and threw it

at each other’s jaws. My friends smoked

marlboro reds so I smoked marlboro Reds and

they called them cowboy killers and i thought,

man i don’t even know if i wanna be a cowboy. 


My dad said I chirped like a bird whenever I

got upset, so i pushed my eggs out of the nest

and swallowed that song. I can’t stop to smell

the flowers, but I’ll pay a man with a gun to

carve oleander into my flesh with metal & ink,

and for a moment I believe I, too, can be

beautiful without the pain of sun and rain. 

With men, every time feels like the first time,

clumsy-terrified-ashamed. Women 

whisper in my ear while I bite my 

tongue into ineffectual pieces, but 

men always say things like, 

I’ve wanted this for so long 

when I’d thought we were just friends,

when I’d thought this was spontaneous,

shudder and wonder whether I’ve ever said

anything like that, pull his hand away, a

rough reflection of my own, we’ve both got

blood underneath our fingernails, ash on our

breath, and bruises from the weather. 

Alex got on top, while David and I watched

silently, ready to bury his rabid anger in Ian’s

muddied face, raised his fist and collapsed

into tears. Why are we even fighting?

The boys pointed and laughed, in 1st grade,

when Drew got caught peeing with his pants

down - incredibly gay. Can’t even take a piss

without proper masculation of the rigid relief.

boots on, pants up, firm hand gripped around

our fragile manhood. 


Now we call each other brothers because the

concept of companionship is too sweltering if

it doesn't involve blood. 


Mennonite women taught me how to quietly

sew quilts. Answers in the cross-stitch, sewn

myself shut: what lives beneath the flowers is 

a mystery to me. I’ve only seen my body in

a world that exists on the other side of a

mirror, where digits drawing dark circles

under my eyes are merely my own. 

The men I’ve known are Mennonites.

For them,The world is always about

to end and when it does, 

Oh god, 

They will finally know 



The truth is too hard to swallow, 

so we make tinctures out of fiction.

I’d like to have a quiet bath now. 

I’ve heard enough thunder. 

It doesn’t have to be all fire and 

brimstone all the time, maybe 

just a nice lavender candle, 

there is so much to wash off, 

what has not yet been eroded.


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art by cy @cyberwitch666

Dean Boskovich is a cook and college dropout living in Asheville, NC. His work has previously appeared in T.G.I. Friday’s, continental breakfasts, and various food delivery apps. He writes poetry when he’s supposed to be working and smiles warmly about the existence of dogs and denim. Dean hopes your friends didn’t think he was being too awkward the other day. Find him on Instagram @deanboskovich.