No Apologies

by Robin Gow

The straight establishment says we were wrong to riot
—The Red Queen

The word “NO” can only really
exist in all capital letters.

I’ve never been to D.C. but
a few nights ago after fucking

a boy took a dollar out of his pocket
and said, “We’re going to burn

the Washington and see how he
likes it.” I wanted to stop him—

instinctively reaching for the bill.
The boy laughed and said

I must not have ever lost
anyone. I knew he meant lost

anyone because I’m gay
but I don’t think I’ve ever lost

anyone at all—there are so
many apologies in me

I don’t have any room for loss.
I told him I was sorry

and I didn’t mean it. I just wanted
to find a way to tell him

he could fit his whole self in
me if he wanted to—he could

burn dollars and pour the ash
in my mouth if he wanted.

He could put the whole capital
in my mouth if he wanted to.

He smoked so even after he left
I tasted that ash and I loved it—

I imagined that it had actually happened
that a whole city had curled and

charred and crackle right
on my tongue—and I apologized for it.

Robin Gow’s poetry has recently been published in Poetry, the New Delta Review and the Roanoke Review. His first full-length collection is forthcoming with Tolsun Books. He is a graduate student and professor at Adelphi University pursuing an MFA in creative writing.

Artwork by: Sinué