In the small town park, two boys
meet in the shadows
of the gazebo. Breathless
under the elms at midnight,
each muscle is a war of secession.
The picket lines have been drawn for years.
Hidden between the trees, skirmishers
in the smoke of union. Tonight,
they listen to the crescendo of crickets,
the rattle of wind,
the voices in the lights along Main Street.
They have been taught that God hates queers,
and beyond that, only lilacs
swell in the drunken dark.
Al Ortolani is a recently retired high school teacher. His poetry has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Rattle, BOAAT, and many other journals as well. His most recent poetry collection is forthcoming from NYQ Books.