Charles Flowers


I dial The Number, punch a code
             to enter the backroom,
where I create a profile,
             with a deeper voice & the curt
monosyllables of attraction:
             Cut, thick, top, hot, now.

Nothing seems more hopeless
             than phone sex on Sunday morning,
early, around 5 or 6 am, when the phone lines
             are crowded with club boys
tweaking home & middle-aged men
             waking stiff & hungry & alone.

Outside the empty streets shine still
             with lamplight & dew,
though in the city, it must be something
             else—gutter water
spreading its stain under the slow
             sizzle of random taxis.

As each man describes himself,
             this must be like the early,
golden days of radio,
             when voices were visceral,
each imagination shaping a different world,
             more real than its listener.

I come here to connect,
             if not in person,
then to needs that require anonymity.
             At twenty, I needed to know
I could be loved. At forty, I need
             to know I can be wanted.

I don’t last long, shuffling the profiles
             like a deck of cards,
that spills, when gripped too tightly,
             to the floor, where a boy
crouches against a PHILCO, its voices
             beating against his heart.