Queer Poem-a-Day is a program from the Adult Services Department at the Library and may include adult language.
by Randall Mann
Giving the man behind the counter my money,
I take from him a fresh white towel
and walk into the sex club—the safe
one—called, mythically, Eros.
I go there, as one does, to kill an hour
or two in the hopeful dark.
Out of my clothes, I step into the dark
of the back rooms, where not money
but flesh is the currency of the hour.
I wrap my torso in the towel
and grab a condom: at Eros,
the only sex allowed is safe,
management insisting that we “Play safe
or be thrown out” into the outer dark.
Life’s much simpler inside Eros,
where for a little money
I find what I need, in my towel,
cruising the sticky floors for an hour.
But it’s been nearly an hour,
and nothing—I am not going to be safe
with just anyone! Then a man without a towel—
beautiful, in the dark—
puts a hand on my chest. He smells like money.
This is why I go to Eros.
(It’s hardly my first Eros
experience: there comes an hour
when, in spite of the money,
no matter how unsafe,
I find what I need only in the dark.)
The man without a towel
removes my towel:
I fall into the arms of Eros;
that world, an underworld, dark
no matter the hour.
And it is good. And we are safe.
It is good to have more sex than money.
Copyright © 2004 by Randall Mann. Used with the permission of Randall Mann. Originally published in Compliant in the Garden (2004.)
About the Author
Randall Mann is the author of five collections of poetry: A Better Life, Proprietary, Straight Razor, Breakfast with Thom Gunn, and Compliant in the Garden. He is also the author of a book of criticism, The Illusion of Intimacy: On Poetry. A three-time finalist for the Lambda Literary Award, he lives in San Francisco.
- Day 1: Pride Month by Shelley Wong
- Day 2: Is This or Is This True as Happiness by Derrick Austin
- Day 3: Nature Poem by Sam Herschel Wein
- Day 4: Ana I Don’t Forget by Gala Mukomolova
- Day 5: Eavesdropping on Adam and Eve by Andrea Cohen
- Day 6: Billow of Thistles by Ruben Quesada
- Day 7: Prayer for My Trans Siblings by H. Melt
- Day 8: Summer by Chen Chen
- Day 9: Embers by Henri Cole
- Day 10: Male Beauty by Richie Hofmann
- Day 11: [unsent draft] by Rachel Mennies
- Day 12: Forty by Julia Guez
- Day 13: Of Contour, of Cadence by Phillip B. Williams
- Day 14: The Men We Loved by Cyril Wong
- Day 15: Riding the Bus Back to Oxford by Catherine Pond
- Day 16: The Window by Jay Besemer
- Day 17: Want Could Kill Me by Xandria Phillips
- Day 18: What a Waste by Jill McDonough
- Day 19: Eros by Randall Mann
- Day 20: An Act by Michael M. Weinstein
- Day 21: Things I Didn’t Do With this Body and Things I Did by Amanda Gunn
- Day 22: Puzzle Pieces by D. A. Powell
- Day 23: Duplicity by Jameson Fitzpatrick
- Day 24: Is It True All Legends Once Were Rumors by Carl Phillips
- Day 25: High School Sleepovers with Straight Girls by Julian Guy
- Day 26: Abu Nuwas by Kazim Ali
- Day 27: Observation Car by Lauren Clark
- Day 28: Love Song by Eileen Myles
- Day 29: Donuts by Dan Kraines
- Day 30: The Lone Palm by Jenny Johnson
Queer Poem-a-Day is directed by poet and teacher Lisa Hiton and Dylan Zavagno, Adult Services Coordinator at the Deerfield Public Library. Music for this second year of our series is the first movement, Schéhérazade, from Masques, Op. 34, by Karol Szymanowski, performed by pianist Daniel Baer. Queer Poem-a-Day is supported by generous donations from the Friends of the Deerfield Public Library and the Deerfield Fine Arts Commission.