Plz Drink | Cameron Martin

Walking home around 4PM last fall, I spotted a can in the middle of the sidewalk. Strikingly silver and apparently full, since it wasn’t blown over. No logo, no nutrition facts, no label, only the reflected sun and these words, in shaky black Sharpie: CUM CAN, PLZ DRINK.

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Walking home around 4PM last fall, I spotted a can in the middle of the sidewalk. Strikingly silver and apparently full, since it wasn’t blown over. No logo, no nutrition facts, no label, only the reflected sun and these words, in shaky black Sharpie: CUM CAN, PLZ DRINK. 

I considered taking the can up on its offer, just to be perverse. It seemed unlikely that its maker (sire, donor, stud) had actually spent all morning milking himself for production value. Still, better not to risk it. Cold cum is a cold comfort, and I’m not much for swallowing at the best of times. I kept walking.

***

Once, in college, I wore a prostate massager to class. Just because. Perhaps counterintuitively, it seemed to make me especially participatory, given to warm, irrepressible smiles aimed at no one in particular. This was a sort of sexual microdosing. Never quite distracted by pleasure, I felt a steady, full-body glow of wellbeing. Besides that, I was rather pleased with myself, getting away with it, getting a secret, lurid thrill at my silent, sensual, silly queering of academic—read: too often bone-dry, disembodied, self-serious—space.

***

I couldn’t stop staring at my teacher’s ass. All eighth grade English class. In memory, that whole year is a haze of gaze. He was a runner, I’d like to point out, and it was good. Gorgeous. Undulant. And was this when I first conflated the erotic and texts, when I first wanted to touch them and myself at the same time? I still often hope to collapse everything into a simmer of pure feeling, impulse, sensation. What could be better than that breathless, bent-forward, bug-eyed feeling? Intellection being only another rush of blood. 

Years later, immediately upon opening Eileen Myles’s Inferno, I felt a deep kinship. The epigraph: “The distracted person, too, can form habits —Walter Benjamin.” Oh yes. And the first paragraph:

My English professor’s ass was so beautiful. It was perfect and full as she stood at the board writing some important word. Reality or perhaps illusion. She opened the door. With each movement of her arms and her hand delicately but forcefully inscribing the letters intended for our eyes her ass shook ever so slightly. I had never learned from a woman with a body before. Something slow, horrible and glowing was happening inside me. I stood on the foothills to heaven. She opened the door.

***

I’m scrolling through the infinite scroll of Twitter. On the profile of a poet I like. Not that I like his poetry—I might, perhaps, but I haven’t read it. I’m into his image, not his images, his enjambment, his assonance. I just know he’s a poet, the best friend of another, more famous poet. This aura of association adds something, I’m almost embarrassed to admit. I’m looking at his Media, which feels even more illicit because invasive, less substantial, less “serious,” an even bigger waste of time. There is picture upon picture of his hairy belly, flopped out under crop tops, intricately outlined under gold Lycra, perched beautifully & bountifully over tight Speedos in red and blue. Several featuring his lips smeared with bold purple lipstick. In one, his ass is hanging fully out of what looks like a makeshift jockstrap made from ripping the seat out of underpants. In another, five days before his birthday, he’s posed with coffee mugs in bed in his birthday suit; there’s one mug for each day until the big day, all of them fanned out in a porcelain halo around his torso, except for the one mug draped over his junk. This is deeply silly, incredibly contrived, kind of stupid, but, still, adorable as hell. So brazen, so sexy. So unashamed. He’s so much cuter than me! I whine to myself. So much more confident in his body and gender expression! Not thin but thinner, I note. Not impossibly gorgeous, but working every inch of it. THIS WEBPAGE IS USING SIGNIFICANT ENERGY. CLOSING IT MAY IMPROVE THE RESPONSIVENESS OF YOUR MAC, my browser tells me, understating things. 

***

Of course, Freud would say…well, I don’t really care what Freud would say. He can mind his psychosexual business.

***

I had considered masturbating on the couch. Not to the poet’s pictures, probably, but perhaps because of them. In obeisance to their activating energy. But I considered too long and my roommate opened the front door and came in with her boyfriend, and I said, Phew, I’m really glad I decided not to masturbate just then. And she said, On our couch!? And I said, Yeah, why not? And she said, NO!!! And I said, I wouldn’t mind if YOU masturbated on the couch. And her boyfriend said, I think the issue is that no one should be masturbating on the couch, though she risks making a mess much less. And my roommate went to take a shower, and when she was gone I asked her boyfriend, Don’t you ever masturbate on your couch? And he said, No, not really. Sometimes I start there, but I don’t like to masturbate lying down. And I said, What???? And he said, Yeah, I like to sit up. Which I suppose I could do on a couch, come to think of it, but the risk of spillage is too high. And I said, So where DO you masturbate then?, imagining him seated entirely naked except for black ankle socks at a kitchen table in an anti-erotic straight-backed chair. And he said, Oh, on the toilet, every morning before I take my shower. It’s self-care. Routine. And I said, Wow. Wild.

***

Do you remember your first blowjob? Giving, I mean. Mine, I was visiting my dad in Ottawa, Ontario over summer break at seventeen. I had taken the train there by myself, trusted for the first time to travel alone. He had moved to Ottawa right after he and my mom finalized the divorce, into a crappy concrete apartment complex mostly occupied by students, and this was my first, short visit. Why he, a grown man of means, chose to live there, I had not the foggiest. The apartment so dingy, so shabbily decorated with furniture either makeshift or hand-me-down. It wasn’t at all in keeping with my spoiled teenaged idea of suitable accommodations, and I sulked about it all that week. Still, what it lacked in spaciousness and elegance and curb appeal, it nearly made up for with access to a penthouse pool. Hot tub and sauna, too. 

I spent most of that trip alone during the days, my dad at work despite the rare visit, in a tight and predictable circuit: fail to make progress on summer reading in the apartment all morning; leave the apartment around noon, making a beeline to the hot tub; soak for a long, wilting while; leave the hot tub on the precipice of heat stroke; take a quick cooling dip in the pool; leave the pool for the sauna to dry off and feel decadent; inevitably contemplate the failure to work at the summer reading; leave the sauna for the hot tub again; leave the hot tub for the sauna again; leave the sauna for an obligatory and dreary dinner with dad; and repeat. 

I wore a shirt in and out of the water, too embarrassed to show my belly, my sagging breast-like chest. I’ve been ashamed of my body for as long as I can remember; so, too, my unserious laziness, which feels related. One day, though, while soaking in the hot tub, another man showed up. I can’t remember if he slipped in beside me first thing, but I have a feeling he worked up to that. Maybe he started in the sauna, joined me just after. We must have chatted about something innocuous, I couldn’t possibly say what. At some point he asked if I’d like to join him in the pool. He didn’t know how to swim, he told me. He was trying to learn. Would I hold his belly while he blew bubbles and kicked? I had a flashback to childhood swim lessons at the local Y. He thrashed his legs while I held him up with both upturned palms, like a waiter with a too-laden tray. 

I had never held a man like this before that moment, and haven’t quite since. My hands in full contact with his vulnerable belly. It felt so innocent, so tender, and yet so seedy.  Had another swimmer come in, I’m sure I would have ripped my hands away. 

He made great, inelegant splashes, and I had to screw my eyes shut to keep out the harshly chlorinated shrapnel of water. But I didn’t mind; I was grateful for the commotion, since at least it hid my growing, discomfiting erection. After he finished with his practicing, I made an excuse to keep swimming, which I did long enough the let the shameful swelling fall away. I was so shy, so embarrassed. I think he stepped out nonchalantly, flag still full mast, sending clear signals. I did know what was about to happen, didn’t I? Eventually, by degrees, I’m sure. How could it not have been clear? 

I ended up on my knees in a little-used bit of stairwell between that final floor and the roof. All I remember is the surprising, then-unmanageable heft of his penis; my silent mantra to myself to please, please keep my lips tightly wrapped around my teeth; and the unpleasant gush of bitter, almost spicy semen as he came without warning me.

***

Toward the beginning of Alice Munro’s “Wild Swans,” a story about coming of age and ambivalent sexual awakening, the protagonist, Rose, drinks some milk. “It was sour. Sour chocolate milk. Rose kept taking tiny sips, unwilling to admit that something so much desired could fail her.” She is on the train to Toronto, not Ottawa, going by herself for the first time. Later, a minister sits down beside her. She’s been warned about ministers. Her stepmother, Flo, finds them untrustworthy, duplicitous, likely to be fake, to have secret, lewd intentions. She’s wary of him at first and keeps a cool distance. But she doesn’t want to appear rude, so she smiles a bit, “not to seem to be rejecting conversation altogether.” She makes idle, unmemorable chitchat. A little later, a bit of his newspaper brushes her thigh. She thinks almost nothing of it, though she imagines it might be his hand instead. 

“That was the kind of thing she could imagine,” apparently. “She would sometimes look at men’s hands, at the fuzz on their forearms, their concentrating profiles.” She imagines a deliveryman this way, her French teacher at school, and then we’re told that, “She had a considerable longing to be someone’s object. Pounded, pleasured, reduced, exhausted.” Lest you mistake Rose for a chaste young lady (or Munro for a chaste older author), someone not horny, not curious, neither expectant nor eager, as her stepmother would like to believe. 

At the same time, of course, when the minister begins to move his hand onto Rose in earnest after all, this is not welcome. She does not say no, but why should she have to? No. She squeezes her knees tightly together, thinking this should let the minister know her feelings clearly enough. But she gives in eventually, relaxes her legs and spreads them a little, imagining that this displeases the minister a bit. Her almost seeming to want it. Rose is a victim, yes; this is clearly sexual assault, a surreptitious molestation on rails; and yet, this language, of assault and victimization, never makes it into the story. Instead, Munro wants us to inhabit the ambivalent space where, as adolescents being used for sex, we are not quite abused, exactly. 

This scene, and countless others like it in the world (in semi-public pools and shadowy stairwells, say), plays out in the tricky, risky gray. There’s pleasure and something uncomfortably close to beauty where there shouldn’t be: wild swans in the middle of a flock of Canada geese. 

And years later, we’re told, when trying to turn herself on, more than any boyfriend or husband or fling, Rose would remember this handsy minister—graying, paunchy, greedy—who touched her on the train. 

***

Before then, I’d only kissed a man. No pounding to speak of. Okay, yes, we also fondled a bit. I’ve never been especially good at going slow or going steady. This was the summer before the blowjob, and in my adolescent mind the year between the two casual encounters loomed in a taunting approximation of eternity. Will I ever get laid again, I wondered, not exactly having gotten laid in the first place. 

We did mostly kiss, behind a velvet curtain in the town hall of Dunvegan, Isle of Skye, Scotland. This was the last day of the absurd, weeks-long Scottish revelry (a parliament) my dad had more or less dragged me to, which at the outset had not seemed especially conducive to queer self-discovery. But there of all places I was, kissing a boy for the first time. A college boy, no less. A would be architect. 

There we were, half-hidden-half-exposed, a ceilidh (an unpronounceably pretentious Scotch-Gaelic word for dance or party) happening on the other side of the floor length fabric. I was kitschily kitted out in a kilt, sporran, and sgian-dubh for the occasion, which I’m slightly mortified to admit. He was wearing tartan trousers, a somewhat more stylish nod to yet skirting of the full regalia. I had so much to learn. He was slurring-drunk at the time, which I hadn’t then learned to find repulsive. I’d been following him around like a lost puppy all that night, all that week. At one point I said, I’m following you around like a lost puppy, already confusing hapless candor for charm. And that night, before I gave up, gave in to my longing, and got to wearing down this dubiously available boy, what had I been trying to do? I’d been trying to read. 

***

I suppose he opened the door. I suppose something slow, horrible and glowing started happening inside me then, and didn’t stop happening and happening. Something nearly unignorable, too bossy, very inconvenient. He opened the door, and this was not unambiguously to the good. All the weather gets in, all the leafy bits and vermin.

***

Chatting with a beloved professor after a reading recently, dating came up. We live in a small town in a red state, and our other conversation partner, a mutual friend of ours, had made a crack about every man here sleeping with a loaded gun under his pillow. Something like that. Oh, my beloved professor said, do you find that to be true of every man in [redacted]? That must be something to navigate. I haven’t had to date here, I don’t know if either of you have much. Our mutual friend shook her head. Dating is a strong word for it, I said. Enough said, said my beloved professor, wryly nodding. You’re gonna make me blush, I said to my professor by way of our mutual friend. I didn’t know you were capable of blushing.

***

Sure, I aspire to shamelessness. I’m sharing all these stories with you, at least in part as inoculation. I do very much want to revel in the sensual, the seedy, the seductive, all of which I do not find, in most cases, to be worthy of shame. Sprezzatura is a word I just learned and an attitude I’ve been courting for years: studied carelessness. Telling a joke or anecdote about my sex life, I do not want to blush. I want to appear as unbothered as, say, Eileen Myles or Wayne Koestenbaum or Maggie Nelson might be. I want your eyes on my carefree, open, unabashed face. I want to search your face for the scantest disapproval, and in a flash, witnessing it, disown you. 

***

But what to say about the usefulness of shame? It is not entirely without utility. Of course not. It is one of the few forces that just might, at least occasionally, constrict the real bad behavior—all things unjust, harmful, hateful, cruel. I would never wish shame completely banished from my life; I never want to be truly shameless. Lord, make me shameful, essentially, but just so. All in due proportion. 

This is one of the cases where judgment and distinction, where a bit of discrimination, can go a long way. The aesthetics of ethics. The critical faculties, those most prejudicial powers, come in very handy when sorting the only innocently lascivious from the genuinely sordid and sinful. Anything nonconsensual, for instance, even the thought of it, should send shards of shame shredding through the bloodstream. Of course it should. It’s only ever a shame to be truly shameless. Blush early and often, where appropriate. And learn to know the difference. 

***

I often struggle to decide how much shame to feel about all my time on Grindr, et al. What would be appropriate? On the one hand, I live in a small town in a red state—there isn’t an obvious, readily available alternative. Still, I do feel a bit embarrassed, or maybe more.

At a conference last year, I attended a panel discussion that included a prominent gay writer, perhaps the prominent gay writer of the moment. In his opening remarks he made a sharp moral distinction between real-world cruising (radical, salutary, human) and its debased app-based facsimile (commercialized, corrosive, dehumanizing). I’m not quite so sure, quite so binarized; for one, I was weaned on these things (the above examples notwithstanding, most of my sexual encounters have been initiated and nursed online), and I do have a modicum of faith in our collective ability to self-determine the meaning of any given space. To make it that much better by our being there. 

But I take his point. The frictionless ease with which one can assess, disdain, and discard others online is seriously gross, and I’ve been the culprit in this viciously shallow cycle at least as often as its victim. Perhaps the threat of catching the common dehumanizing cold is too great, perhaps I should shame my sex life offline. As it is, it gets to be too much after a while, and I have to take a break. For a while, I’ll make a modest but intentional effort to seek out satisfaction elsewhere. Which is maddeningly hard to do, and, before too long, the apps and their cool efficiency call me back, even as I feel a little queasy (more and more every time) pressing “Download.”

***

Moral judgments are one thing, but it wouldn’t do to forget just how much goddamned time I can waste opening and reopening an app like Grindr. Sending probing messages to handsome strangers, calculating charming responses three moves ahead while I wait, fretting over messages ignored, conversations abruptly halted, refreshing and refreshing and refreshing. A whole day can evaporate that way, and more of mine have than I care to admit. At the end of those days, I often think, Sex could never be worth all this obsessing over it. How many books have I not read, essays and poems not written, thoughts not thought because I was hopelessly mired in an abject, unalleviated horniness? Countless. Hopeless. Shameful.

***

Then again, as Adam Phillips writes in Attention Seeking, “Indeed, what is striking…is just how selective we are, and how much we assume our coherence, however secretly; as though everything about ourselves could be connected if only we had the wherewithal.” As though I might woolgather myself magpie-like into making the kind of clear, profound, respectable sense I’d like, the kind that’s only possible in art. As if, without the limiting factor of Grindr, et. al. I would suddenly achieve an enlightened state of utter intellectual fulfillment which was always simply waiting in the wings. As if I wouldn’t find some other frivolous way to fritter away my time on my phone. 

“…this assembling of ourselves…through what, as we say, attracts our attention…smacks of addiction (‘we get hooked’); and a fundamental unknowingness about how we make ourselves up. As though what we call our identity, which is to do with what we notice, is a kind of fixation, an obsession with certain ideas about ourselves.” Point grimly taken.

***

The distracted person, too, can form habits. I have been distracted. Will continue to be. I have formed habits, mostly bad, but also fine. I have swiped, woofed, tapped, messaged, flirted, sexted, hooked up. I have not focused on reading, on writing, both of which ostensibly matter more to me. And I suppose it’s a mistake to begrudge myself a life off the page, but I’ll go on making it, thank you very much.   

***

Sometimes I can’t help making unflattering comparisons between my sex life and Chris Kraus’s in I Love Dick. I love dick, too, but it never seems to do me any good. Where’s my artistic breakthrough? Where’s my cult novel? Why can’t I ever make an endlessly generative dynamo out of desire? If anything, any lusting I do seems to have the opposite effect, seems to drain me dry, leave me listless. Perhaps my problem is not concentrating my erotic obsession into one all-consuming object? Perhaps my problem is that desire always seems like a problem? In my own not-nearly-all-consuming obsession, I wantonly flit from dick to dick, ass to ass, possible future to possible future. Every one blurs together in a muddle of moving on and moving on again. I call this being sex positive, a free-spirited sexual being, a proud slut. But then I won’t (can’t?) settle down and enjoy myself with one man, breathe in his particular odors, outline his particular shape, plumb the finite and specific possibilities he alone offers. I’ve barely tried. I don’t mean to revert to the monogamous mean, but I’ve hardly dated, per se, never really committed to anyone but myself for any length of time. Plenty of proud, sex positive sluts can’t say that. Unlike them, I seem to be obsessed with the abstract and the novel, with men in general, with the seemingly endless stream of yet more and more. I’m an unregenerate maximalist in general, sure, but maybe I regret that in this one instance.

***

But also, and not to let myself entirely off the hook just yet, Adam Phillips again: “Desire might feel or have been made to feel so unbearably conflictual that it has to be abolished; a person is then left living in a world in which there are, to all intents and purposes, no objects of desire.” I have always found desire almost unbearably conflictual. There’s the obvious, near-universal conflict of attaching one’s desire, of one’s desire becoming attached, to an unforthcoming, unreceptive object. In the case of an adolescent queer, this often looks like falling hard and fast for someone straight, and this happened to me not long after coming out, in the ninth grade. I became overwhelmingly, disconcertingly obsessed with a long-haired, big-lipped, bubble-butted football player—about as inappropriate an object of my queer desire as I could have found if I’d tried. He had to be abolished. 

Then, on into adulthood, there’s the persistent issue of my size. My BMI. My bulging, rolling, stretch-marked bits. It is a truism that gay men are especially vicious about weight, towards the so-called overweight or “out of shape,” and I regret to inform you that I’ve largely found the truism true. When I first downloaded Grindr, it was common to see “No fats, no femmes,” in bios; now you’re more likely to find a man proclaiming himself “Masc for masc,” and “Fit—you be too,” but it’s only different words for the same idea. 

It’s easy enough to avoid these guys, their obnoxious signposting of their prejudice serving, at the same time, as a sort of ironically kind red flag. This way lies madness. But then there are all the others, all the perniciously polite men who are, nevertheless, no more eager to lay a hand on an overstuffed, bulbous, supposedly shapeless body. They make of the desirable, desiring world a minefield. I see a beautiful man, and another, another, but how can I know he’s safe, that he won’t reject me on sight? This is only an amplification of the usual conflict with desire, but amplification is enough to make desire—always already bittersweet, full of somewhat pleasant torment—conflictual to a point beyond bearing. I don’t know where to go, where to commit myself, my time and energy, and it begins to seem perilously desirable to abolish desire altogether, to head it off at the already mostly-impassable pass.

***

So what’s the answer? To keep trudging onward, I suppose, to not become too jaded in either direction (desire is altogether hopeless; desire is only safe when there are no emotional stakes). To find some workable, risky, committed middle ground, whatever that may be. And at the risk of giving maximalism and promiscuous quoting a bad name, Adam Phillips again, again: “Clearly, to prefer safety to curiosity, or to experience them as too much at odds with each other, is to limit the possibilities of experience, as is a consistent or too certain knowing of what one is interested in (it is always worth wondering what our interests are a way of not being interested in).” It seems then that, at least in part, my interest in reading, in writing (sanctioned interests, approved-of by myself and the culture we’re all steeping in), is a way of not being interested in my body, in all which I’m anxious its flaws and infelicities will not afford. Without ever meaning to, I’ve been using the “seriousness” of reading and writing to obscure the full and no less serious possibilities of the body in intimate motion. Philips argues for reaching after uncertain outcomes, living on the edge of possibility rather than within the safe center of the probable, of the time-tested and safe. Instead, I’ve been belying my stated desire to collapse the mind and the body into each other, to make them one and the same, the possible results of which seem genuinely uncertain, and I’d really like to stop. I’d like to see what might happen when I stick to my word on words.

And he can still mind his psychosexual business, but I am evidently more interested in what Freud would have to say about all of this than I initially thought: “The invisible artists of our own desires, we are in Freud’s account astoundingly attentive to our making and our medium…Freud was as interested in the nature of our attention – how we use it and what we use it for, what kind of medium it is – as he was in sexuality. Indeed, sexuality in his work is often there to explain the conundrums of attention.” A Freudian concept I can eagerly cosign and train my attention toward.

***

I just had sex with someone. Not a total stranger, but close enough. We’d only exchanged a couple weeks’ worth of messages, sexts and smoochy-emoji on Snapchat, before he delivered himself to my door, got naked, got us both down to business. He wanted music on during, for some reason, which, not being in the habit of scoring my sex life, flustered me a bit. Sure, I said, scrambling for something to suit the mood. How about Lana Del Rey? the first vaguely fitting thing I spotted on Spotify. Norman Fucking Rockwell? At least it has ‘Fucking’ in the title, I said. He laughed a bit, perhaps politely. God damn man-child, she sings and sang. Your poetry’s bad, and you blame the news. His hands felt all wrong on me; I was self-conscious of them as they tentatively moved between my arms and my swollen sides, back again robotically, to nowhere else in particular. But how could something so much desired fail me? I had wanted him. I swear I had. So maybe I’m to blame? Maybe my sex is bad? 

If so, I blame the sour news my mind makes. It’s enough just to make you feel crazy, crazy, crazy. Afterward, he all-too-abruptly got dressed, not saying a word in acknowledgement or apology, and all the while smiling. We kissed goodbye, hugged, said our see-you-again-soons and that-was-greats, all of which felt perfunctory. I always wonder whether this polite goodbye-ing is more driven by the formal requirements of hookups, their pre-ordained rhythms, than genuine emotional necessity, and I just don’t know for sure. Reality or perhaps illusion? Do you want me or do you not? Was that okay or was it not? Will you disappear now or will you not? I’m just never sure. 

I kept smiling until the door closed, at which point, not removing my hand from the cold brass knob, I stood completely still, let my face slacken into the sullen shape it wanted, smelled the sweat and ass still on my breath, and allowed the depleted ache of uncertainty to flourish in my chest for a moment. Hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have. 

Who knows if I’ll see him again. And I don’t want to care, but I do. I want to just know, no ifs, ands, or buts. For sure. And I don’t know that I can say, however led I was by curiosity, that this ambivalent outcome was uncertain, exactly. By now, this aftermath is as familiar as a hangover after heavy drinking. A stomach ache after sour milk. What else can you honestly expect?

***

It feels important to state something here for the record: I do not want to glorify sadness. I do not want to spin my romantic and sexual frustrations as they are into fool’s gold and call it art. I will not let that be my method. I will not let sex become only a sore spot. I will not limit the full range of emotions to a painful, blue few. 

I do not want to bolster what Leslie Jamison describes, in a recent essay, “Cult of the Literary Sad Woman,” as the pernicious false-idol belief that “profundity [is] predicated solely on dysfunction.” Because it isn’t. I don’t want to bolster The Cult of the Literary Sad Queer, to promulgate the myth that we are inevitably dissatisfied in our sad, abnormal lives. That’s a lie worth living and writing your way out of. I don’t want to stop believing in people, community, care, in pleasure, sex, laughter. In joy! Exclamation points! I don’t want to “make [my] fragility a public commodity.” 

Still, all that said, when I consider stumbling down the dark path of desire, I get fearful and sad. I don’t want to go. I don’t want to get out of bed or invite anyone else in. I want to lie here unmoving, alone, careful and warm. And this is in sharp contrast to how I feel about writing, where I take it as a given, as gospel truth, that you have to feel the way through the dark: trip without caring, falter without guilt or fear, right yourself as elegantly as possible, and keep on not-knowing toward almost knowing the shape of…something else. 

On the page, I assume I have to keep trying, then try harder. Without a clue, or an outsized care for failure. What I try not to do: be too certain; take a step back from the foothills of heaven; let the door close a single solitary fraction of an inch. What I try to do: keep moving to move; confuse hapless candor for charm; keep taking tiny sips until the taste gets sweeter. So how, then, to live and love like this?


Cameron McLeod Martin is an essayist and poet from the Midwest. He is currently an old undergrad at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho, which is a better place than one might expect to be queer and bookish. This is his first publication.


Image: “ive been having a hard time lately,” by Scout Haener.