In a coffeeshop in northeast
stocked with the local gay paper and warmth
we sat, dominoed around a slick rickety table,
me and five teenagers
none of whom go by the pronouns you would guess
just by looking at them.
On a piece of paper
turned sideways so the lines looked like prison bars
or fenceposts if we're being generous,
I wrote a sentence about cardiovascular science,
passed it to the left.
We called it a game,
although we all had different names for it:
telestrations, sentence drawing sentence,
something else clever I can't recall.
Our papers circulated like blood,
pumping through our fingers
sentences oxygenated into pictures
and filtered back into words.
After cycling through two minutes in the lives of
five teenagers whose only commonality was a city
and the displaced feeling that comes with having
bodies and hearts that almost everyone pronounces wrong
the words on the paper had become this:
In the world of love,
it is easier for stick figures than jellyfish.


A/N: I work with at-risk LGBTQ youth, many of whom are on the homeless youth continuum. Lately I have been working on writing more truth and experience into my poetry.