Three Poems by Bennett Allen


Losing My Edge

What’s it like to be a gay warden?
Sorry, deputy warden
I want to ask him but don’t
He smelled me out right away
First thing’s first
He told me about his vacation to New Orleans
Just like Blanche
Except he seems not to have lost his mind
The way he touches my elbow
It isn’t the same as when Captain Santiago
Touches my shoulder
When Assistant District Attorney Clarke
Pats me on the back
None of that macho stuff
A lot of touching here at the Robert N. Davoren Complex
But not a woman in sight
Sorry, female
I put on my best Brooklyn accent but
Still you found me
I’m out of practice

Food Coloring

The first time I watched somebody shoot up
I played it cool.
“Is this the first time you’ve seen somebody shoot?” he asked.
“No,” I said.
“Occupational hazard.”
It’s funny, it also was
the first time I saw anyone smoke crack.
I guess he shot the crack too
but he smoked it first.
Having read a small library
of books about drugs
I knew that
a little bit of blood
would float up into the barrel
but I still wasn’t expecting it.
It almost looked like food coloring.
But I’m a professional.
I should audition for television.
He offered nothing to me.
Not even the opportunity to go native.
“Going native”
the anthropology nightmare.
The closest I came was with the couple who
took me out to dinner and almost
offered dope to me but didn’t.
I liked them.
I hope they’re well.


I like babies who don’t smile and
Babies who speak foreign languages
I don’t want any babies right now
Maybe ever
But I’m not a politician
And I don’t live in a brownstone
Is everyone in Carroll Gardens a lesbian?
He asks
I want so badly to laugh
But can’t because
We are strangers
What could I do to make us not strangers
To un-stranger us?
This isn’t the food court at the Denver Airport
Just pick me already
The crick in his neck
Makes this feels like going camping with my ex-wife

About the author:

Bennett Allen lives in New York City. His work has been featured in Descant.