James Allen Hall

Portrait of My Lover as Man in a Polyester Suit (1980)

This is how I’ve changed my life: I’ve fallen in love
with the Archaic Torso, clothed him in modern garb
made from sheer synthetic fibers, the torso obscured
and buttoned up, fettered and lean, framed
in a reserved three-piece ensemble, shining in the light.
This is how I’ll worship you: from your knees
to your narrow chest—you exist only in parameters,
and you only exist for me. I want you, cut
this way and pierced in the light. And loving and light
are brothers, two smooth blades fastened into shears,
trimming and trimming the body. I’ve dressed you
in a rumpled suit; it’s been worn, funerals and weddings.
Your hands by your side, your zipper undone. Looking
at you is my fetish, a grafting of the mind’s stain
onto the muslin canvas of the flesh. This is how you live forever.
In my mind, the unrested part of me. My solitary days
and sullied nights, you held me down so I could not see
your face, you growled obscenities until I writhed,
and then you quieted, you left your musk and lavender,
you were as if I’d never breathed.
This is what the camera doesn’t capture: your arched neck,
the long throat curving backward, out of view, a contrast
to the gentle arc of your cock. I can’t show anyone
the curve of your mouth, how you’d say my name in flashes,
piecemeal, like the Orphic penitents always do, before
they close their eyes and push the body down the river.

James Allen Hall
“Portrait of My Lover as Man in a Polyester Suit (1980)” is from Now You’re the Enemy (University of Arkansas Press, 2008).