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john compton

the waltz; or, how one becomes more clean

surround me with barbedwire.

love me with prods: jesus & god.

they have named me homosexual—

enunciating ways to cleanse me.

i fancy how many more women

they’ve tasted than i have men.

i marvel at their hands 

& how many stones 

they’ll be able to throw 

before the first one

hits me with ease.

let’s mix mud & blood & meat.

their smiles will be gorgeous.

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i taste the cock like a wax-branded whiskey. 


i close my lips around the neck

until it’s lax

& exhausted & can’t raise its head.


the liquid is a poison that eviscerates oxygen

& that is when i release it

back into captivity.


it breathes the air like a drowning animal

barely escaping its predator.

anxiously at the wound

i sleep in the fog

of your morning



in the overspill

we disappear


catching the hook, the dream

glints in the murky water



i shape into your image




i wake, empty headed

       afraid          confused


weights sewn into my palms


where are you


the cold wraps me

like a grave 

john compton (b. 1987) is gay poet who lives in kentucky. his poetry resides in his chest like many hearts & they bloom like vigorously infectious wild flowers. he lives in a tiny town, with his husband josh and their dogs and cats. he feels his head is an auditorium filled with the dead poets from the past. poems are written and edited constantly. his poetry is a personal journey. he reaches for things close and far, trying to give them life: growing up gay; having mental health issues; a journey into his childhood; the world that surrounds us. he writes to be alive, to learn and to grow. he loves imagery, metaphor, simile, abstract language, sounds, when one word can drift you into another direction. he loves playing with vocabulary, creating texture and emotions. he has published 2 books and 7 chapbooks published and forthcoming: [books]: trainride elsewhere (august 2016) from Pressed Wafer; stranger in the attic of clouds (december 2021) from dead man's press inc; [chapbooks]: that moan like a saxophone (december 2016) from kindle; ampersand (march 2018) from Plan B Press; a child growing wild inside the mothering womb (june 2020) from ghost city press; i saw god cooking children / paint their bones (oct 2020) from blood pudding press; to wash all the pretty things off my skin (september 2021) from ethel zine & micro-press; "a scalpel calms the grief" (august 2022) from the grindstone;

"children of the children's child" (sept 2023) from ethel zine and micro press. he has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies.

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