Love Poem About My Internalized Homophobia, Which I Learned At Church
A beautiful woman has sex with me in what may or may not be Hell.
The walls of her apartment are red,
and she understands nothing, being drunk again on wine
from the bar downstairs. After she falls asleep
I conduct a Hell-themed experiment.
I light big black sugar ants on fire
with matches, which to them are flaming trees.
I've built a model of Dante's circles
on the coffee table, and I assign each of their corpses—
separate the gluttons from the whores
from the traitors. Some float in red rivers of blood
and fire. I staple others together
in a permanent sex.
Dante claims it's winter in the worst circle
and I agree. Satan is a dead bat I stabbed
and stuck in the freezer, his wings now cased in ice.
I wake the woman and ask:
do you want this to happen to you??
To Satan, you are nothing but an ant.
And his wings are cased in ice.
She says she doesn't give a shit about Satan,
and I shouldn't worry about myself. She kisses me
and falls back asleep.
But I am alive, and Satan is small
and dead and his wings are melting. I can move
the ants around as I please. The woman is asleep.
Still, I walk downstairs, into the bar,
man with a cross around his neck.
Caitlin Vance's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Tin House, The Southern Review, New Ohio Review, NightBlock, and others. She received her MFA from Syracuse University, and is now a PhD student at the University of Louisiana.