The First Time I Stayed Awake to Listen to Another Boy Breathing




At first I wasn’t sure if I’d heard him

or the rude A/C. Water pipes

conspiring? Coiled pipes

of my own body creaking pink?


There was much to hear from the couch,

& by twelve I had learned not to trust

my senses. When I drank water

I tasted salt. When lights turned on

or off I tasted salt. When people spoke to me

intensity of salt taste defined their words.


Besides, I thought,

anything could sound like a breath.

Maybe the wind quickened me.

Maybe a fan upstairs. Maybe

a handful of maple samaras corkscrewing

down outside made me hard.


Any answer for What spoke?

that meant escaping the red word said.


alone :: alone :: (queer) :: alone :: alone


Again, in the dark, where I knew my bones

I heard the faintest rustling

like he’d turned over in his sheets

& a brine of bitter ocean flowers filled my throat.


I opaled in the sterile moonlight.



 I looked out the window: A jury

of nightjars in his mother’s white rosebush

six of them, silver-brown, preening

themselves among the glowing blossoms.


I knew what I’d heard.

I still hear it sometimes

late Spring, before dawn


—the faintest rustling

of wings.




Dylon Jones is a poet, essayist and journalist based in Louisville, Kentucky, where he serves as web editor of Louisville Magazine. He is a recipient of Sarabande Books' Flo Gault Poetry Prize, and his narrative journalism has earned him first-place awards in feature writing and profile reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists. His poems also appear in The Collagist.