The Boys of Hood Hall

Jude &
JB &
Willem &
& Malcolm.

You are a found family of Peter Pan’s
a brotherhood built from the ground up in Hood Hall,
friends through shithole apartments
& ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends,
starting at the bottom of the law firm/art/architecture/film ladder
& working your way up to the top floor
to push your way out onto the roof
standing side-by-side, fists raised in triumphant

You boys have consumed me with your
houses, art openings, films, & your presence in the court room.

I love you all & hope you’re doing well.

I miss you all.

edited & expanded on 5/5/2020


Dear Willem

You compiled my life for me—
a spreading accordion of file folders labeled Jude I Jude II Jude III Jude IV bursting with awards, photos, certificates, love letters, JB’s art, & my legal documents

With you,
you shone like the Sun,
brightening the white-washed walls of our apartment

Your jumper cable arms
wound around me kept me safe
from the snarling dogs of my mental illness

I’m in denial.
I’m hardly living
in this hollowed-out shell of an apartment we called home
I’m a zombified shell of a man, wandering, without you

Why didn’t I just retire?
Why didn’t I just grit my teeth & endure sex?
Why didn’t I become a kept man
like you said, so we could travel together?
I’d cook for you,
I’d sing to you,
I’d hold you close.

I know why: Because I thought my work was my fucking life, my fingerprint on the world
I should’ve made more time for you
I should’ve stockpiled the sound of your voice,
the sandalwood perfume you wear,
& have a chemist bottle your very essence in a jar
I should’ve recorded our conversations,
snapped more pictures,
taken more videos of our life—
thirty-fucking-four years—together

I should’ve cared less about my crystalized past & cared more about the love you showed me in pointing out the monarch butterfly’s wings
I should’ve cared more about your mantra: I am Williem Ragnerson & I will never let you go

I should’ve counted my blessings:
my adoptive parents
my talented friends
rather than believe the lies my abusers told me
but their words leave their scars on my forearms

I should’ve asked for help.
I should’ve ignored the shit my fucked-up head told me,
but the hyenas keep skulking in the trees.
I should’ve realized that you give me a quiet mind

If I had to do it all over again,
I’d stop cutting earlier
I’d re-learn how to love myself
I’d go to therapy for all the abuse I suffered
I’d learn how to mistrust that little voice in my head
I’d listen to Andy, Harold, Julia, JB, Malcolm, & most of all you—
Willem, you cared more about me living than I ever did

I hope the shoot is going well
I miss you so much


edited 5/1/2020

Note: italicized pieces are from A Little Life & Blue October’s “A Quiet Mind,” respectively. Other references to A Little Life are un-italicized.


Hold onto Me

Note: This is not a personal poem.

You keep me sane amid the winter’s bite,
in between raised webs of scar tissue
& sticky streams of blood

You keep me warm in this drafty room,
using your tender kisses
& your fierce hold on me to blot out the chill—
the muscles of your biceps & triceps
knotting, bunching, & jumping like cable wiring
while I shiver, shrouded, in our cotton bedsheets

You weigh me down like a stone,
even when I struggle
to slip out from under you,
like popping to the riverbed’s surface to gasp for air

You keep me sane in the winter of my mental disorder,
restraining me from the black-blue bruise of evening
to the pink-cheeked flush of morning
fighting your drooping eyes,
fighting me
& my itch to drag a razor across my forearms,
my desire to make my tributary veins weep rubies


Note: Jude to Willem, two characters from Hanya Yangihara’s A Little Life. Self-harm is a very serious subject, one I do not condone. If you or anyone you know is going through a rough time because of the Corona virus or something else, please seek help. You are not alone in this. This poem is a sign of Willem’s ability to help his boyfriend through rough times, particularly the trauma he suffered from when he was first a boy, and then a teenager.


if I lost you

if I lost you,
I’d bury myself to the waist in sand
alive on the outside, a draining hourglass on the inside
I’d ink a little sailboat on the inside of my wrist
I’d miss your meals of party pizza and pizza rolls
I’d miss hearing all of your “boops” instead of “goodbyes”
I’d miss your narration as you gamed
I’d miss your laughs, the leg-jiggle in your voice
If I lost you,
I’d wail with the sirens of police cars,
I’d cry Alice a new river at the sight of anything red, your favorite color
if I lost you,
I’d scream myself hoarse,
my face smothered beneath my pillow
if I lost you,
I’d cry Alice a new river
you’d still be my North, though,
when I’d stumble South



schootch day

you’re tense, darling
a knot knitted below your shoulder
bumps up under the skin of your back

you’re stiff, dear
let me help you unwind
that spool of yarn
you’ve been looming over
ever since breakfast

(I’ll rub the ache away
just like I tugged away the knot in your jeans this afternoon;
a delight I then sucked at with my drooling mouth)

let me ride the pain away
in a bouncing rhythm
just like we’ll do later tonight
when the moon’s a silver dollar in the sky



blank page

white screen,
blinking cursor.

white dotted line,
hovering pen.

one letter after the other,
one syllable follows another,
rhyming isn’t my rhythm
I tend to clap on the off-beat
I prefer the feat of clever rhyming,
clapping in-between the beat.

it’s unexpected,
tripping up the stairs,
like tripping over your own words,
but you reorganize your sentences,
you put your pen to paper,
your fingers to the keyboard,
you pick yourself back up again

one letter after the other.



Writer’s Blood

No ink on my body
but ink’s in my blood
the smudge on my left hand
is a badge
a tat of ink creased into my skin
a sign of the writer’s blood within me.



light-bulb trees

the trees glow with light-bulbs
swinging down from their branches
shimmering with fresh dew,
the electricity snapping like twigs.
pumpkin spices
fill the autumnal air
as old bulbs break and
twinkle to the ground
the shards litter a carpet
of their red, yellow, and orange pieces
on the concrete floor,
creating a kaleidoscope pathway
for urban morning strollers.


photo credit:



you keep me afloat
as we drift through choppy knives
of blue-green waters,
the sea-salt stinging like a ray

you hold my numb hand,
thick and calloused at the knuckle,
when our small boat
takes on icy water,
burbling up from a hole in the hull

you promise me, “it will be alright,”
through the forest’s cold night
huddled together around a hissing fire,
the wet wood’s embers bright as a snake’s eye,
our limbs shuddering

you’re a candle in the window
of my cupped hand
a bright flame burning my palm with hope

6/3/19 (edited 6/10/19)

photo credit: #boatpainting by Raju Kale from Art People


tiny trees

tiny trees listen
bending their branches
toward the hikers
traipsing through the earth,
walking the paths
carved by nature lovers
who took only photos
& left only footprints