—CNN, MAY 2005.



: Verb, to be sawtoothed. For three jagged trenches

to be the throat’s lasting legacy. To let morning


enter the body like a man’s appendage; come

dawn, an encore—sweet voyeur, the blushing


sky. To let the nameless cop enter

the apartment. And Jesse. And Jesse. To speak


without words to the man who has not a name

but a body. To whisper hello until the moon drops


back into the barrel of blue hills. To leave

even trenches raked in the throat, to be


Columbia, Missouri’s worst case

in years. To be a body the rain


can’t take back into its mouth, a queer boy

the sky can’t erase.



for Jesse Valencia (1981-2004)






Peter LaBerge is the author of the chapbooks Makeshift Cathedral (YesYes Books, 2017) and Hook (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2015). His recent work appears in Best New Poets, Colorado Review, Harvard Review, Iowa Review, Pleiades, Tin House, and elsewhere. He is the recipient of a fellowship from the Bucknell University Stadler Center for Poetry and the founder and editor-in-chief of The Adroit Journal. He lives in Philadelphia, where he is an undergraduate student at the University of Pennsylvania.