Some Men I Left in Denver
by Jenny Catlin
It wasn’t sex. No it was never about bodies coming together in strange and un-private landscapes. It was men, their foreign ideals, and scars on backs where acne made them self-conscious in high school locker rooms. Callouses on fingertips they earned in skinless houses and army’s and music studios where they swept up, hoping to catch fame.
It wasn’t drugs or drink, shared needles in Honda backseat drive inn’s filled with flat Sprite and crystal meth. It was his or his blood filling drug-store plastic chambers for a few brief seconds before it returned to their veins. Not the warm plastic bottle of bar whiskey, but the bitten fingernails on the hand that passed it.
It was hot acidic breath, when we would sleep so close I imagined us surviving off one another’s rise-and-fall rib cages.
The feeding and mending and sewing of ids and egos into a quilt of strange brotherhood. People didn’t know that about me. That I could fall in love with anyone. I suppose they knew I did, but not that I could.
There are some men I left in Denver who have left scars on internal soft tissues, catches in my throat that will never feel air pass again. Faint places on my scalp where the memory of eighteen stitches will never let hair grow. Dents in the frontal lobe that will make me angry when there is no warrant, despite the tube stuck through to drain the damage.
It was men and boys and in-betweens that drove me. A Nebraska Cornhusker with deep brown eyes, a bike rider with the name of a state who had delicate swastikas wrapped around BMX logos on a body so lithe and muscled that his fingers moved in his neck.
It was the insane trust of a needle full of cocaine in a soft spot behind a testicle, in Arizona high-rise hotel Jacuzzi, before greeting the paparazzi of fourth of July cameras. The one who wasn’t allowed to know me publicly. It was watching his young wife’s eyes follow my lips to her secret places from the picture frame on Holiday Inn nightstands, while her aging breasts nursed a baby a million cell signals away.
And they used me back, for their strange and varied reasons. Used me as a disguise to fool an angry gospel father. Dressed his homosexuality in my flesh on a basement floor mattress. A line of communication for an aged man who refused to stop dialing youth when it was late and he was drunk and lonely.
There are some men I left in Denver who are faint and forgotten. Men with crooked smiles and stooped backs and day jobs. Some of them tried to cling to my disaster . Martyrs bent on salvation who clung to my scarred and pale flesh like they had been promised a rapture. And I left them with nothing but faded Nebraska billboards.
A serial killer I never turned in, because he never turned on me and I hid two am conversations under my mattress, while I sat vigil and waited for every single one of them to confess.