What Passed for Love Those Days

Fall-down drunk that he was
you pumped O’Grady’s cock
from desperate semi-soft into hard
from hope into love

Eventually, eventually
And then finally

Took you years
in church basements on folding chairs
to understand
he was always fall-down drunk

Took you even longer
to know
that wasn’t love between each
slam of an empty shot glass on the bar

While Frazier and Wrinkles poured long and generous
into O’Grady’s endless cups
you poured your dreams into O’Grady

Maybe for real
He’ll take you out to dinner,
order food you only saw in the movies

Maybe for real,
while everyone’s laughing together,
his arm will find your waist

Maybe for real
on an afternoon bench
he’ll lean against you like a boyfriend
not just the cold walk up 2nd Avenue
after 4 a.m. last call

Maybe

Out of the blue
a sharp memory like winter
That morning 41 years ago
when
out of the blue
he showed up in your living room
carrying
not flowers or even a muffin
but a tattered ancient envelope

Three snapshots of him
posing over the Vietcong soldier he had just killed
Instamatic pictures so faded they were almost black and white

And now you wonder
was he hoping
his documented past would be enough of a valentine
for some future 4 a.m. crawl
up 2nd Avenue
before falling into your bed
and letting desperation catch him

Where is he now?
Did he fade like his snapshots
into his own black and white?

You heard he went back to Oregon
or Portland
or Seattle or…
somewhere up and left or right
depending on which way you’re facing the bar on St. Marks Place
or the traffic on 2nd Avenue

Fall-down drunk that he was
you pumped O’Grady’s cock
from desperate semi-soft into hard

Eventually, eventually
And then finally

That’s what passed for love those days

–C.O. Moed