New Orleans broke my heart. So did Utah.

I’m the son of both and neither.

All these places break boys’ hearts.

Send them crying to their rooms on Sutter.

When I was young my dad collected frogs.

He dissected them. Kept them in glass jars.

Pressed quarters in my palm to love me.

The frogs stared at the world, unblinking.

I walked to town in roadwork season.

Smelled the bitumen and gripped the coins.

Love was the soft road leading from my father’s den.

I’m older now and I preserve things too.

Here’s the glass. Crystal’s my formaldehyde.

Tonight a man will come and kneel before me.

I’ll push his head back, trace his throat, and kiss him.

Then I’ll take the straightedge from my chest.

The scalpel stolen from the box below the frogs.

I will cut him open. Save him from New Orleans.

And Utah. The fog swirling outside the window.


by Graham Coppin


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