A Cycle of Poems by Kenneth Pobo





he was gay while eating Pez,

Joan Crawford in Rain on TV.

Newton had the apple

that showed him how to find a motel

named gravity. Jerry had Joan.


He was 18, knew at 13,

but knowing can be far from saying.


Yet he felt more sure

of the way, no map needed, love’s

ostrich coming up


from behind, telling him to hop on.




Jeff worked hard on a book case

in seventh-grade Shop,

loved the lathe too much,

mis-shaped the wood.


Robert Finchetti,

just another kid with acne

and curly black hair–Jeff

knew staring was rude,

but wherever Robert went,

Jeff’s eyes secretly followed.

He learned how to look

and not be caught—an art,

like building something

that wouldn’t topple over.


Robert moved away.


Sometimes joy is The Sleeper

yo-yo trick, tough to learn—

it’s in the spin. With practice

you get it, the yo-yo finding a way

back to your hand.



Wind had only one hit,

“Make Believe.” Most of

high school was make believe—


smiling for bullies, smiling

for Pastor, or smiling for teachers

who fed us poisoned algebra.

It turns out that Wind

was only studio musicians–

how could there be no Wind?


I waited for a good strong one

to blow through my school.

It never came.


Just a stillness

I didn’t dare break

by speaking.




Mom wouldn’t say “cancer.”

We followed her lead. Dad said she was

“under the weather.” I said she was

“feeling poorly.” Opinions


hardened her spine. Her views were like math tests.

You got enough points and you passed.

Often I was the torn-up test,

the F in the ever-lengthening grade book.

Mom was the sound

of a loudly closed book.


She also couldn’t say the word “gay.”

I had “a problem.” I was “different.”

Not all that religious, God fell under

her math tests too. Even God could flunk.


Telling her that I worked as an environmentalist

freaked her out. “A what? I can see you

whistling on dark forest trails,

a bear swatting you down for good.”

When I walk in the woods,

I don’t whistle. My dreams are of bears,

deer, and snowbirds.


Mom always kept a clean house.

See boxes on the floor in mine.

Dusting? What? I want magic,


a forest that takes me in real deep.

No problem if I can’t find my way back.




The sun gobbles up the horizon line,

sets a cellophane sky on fire.

It’s romantic.


Jerry says “Oh, Jeff”

and Jeff says there’s a great

restaurant a mile away.

They stay in a refurbished

Victorian house, Jerry’s idea

of bliss. Jeff would be fine

with a Motel Six. Sex,


finding a sheltered place

when rain pours down–

you get to see the sun pop

back out, blankets cover wet sand,

the ocean

laced with light.


Kenneth Pobo won the 2014 Blue Light Press Book Award for Bend of Quiet.  They published it in 2015.  His work has appeared in: Hawaii Review, Caesura, Mudfish, The Queer South anthology, Cream City Review, and elsewhere  He teaches creative writing and English at Widener University in Pennsylvania.  He and his partner have two cats and a garden with lilies and dahlias.  Catch his Internet radio show, Obscure Oldies, on Saturdays 6-8:30pm on Widecast through















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