Installment 44 evokes landscapes of isolation and secrecy: queer kids driving under the radar, forced outside of the lines. David-Matthew Barnes makes every word and line matter, conjuring rich life worlds with his concise simplicity.
Once we were kicked out of our shared room
in the boarding house, we slept in a car
for a month. We panhandled at gas stations,
scraping together a first month’s rent
and deposit. Not knowing about things
like credit checks, applications, family
trips. We saw the children of the people
who gave us change, scared by our sorrow
and what they also might become, if
disowned. We taught so many
to behave, silently. We learned how
to keep warm and find love in words.
We got to know parking lots well. Some
were safer than others. Some
were killing grounds for the queer kids
like us. This was before we were cool.
This was before we were legal. This was
when we only had backseats, each other.
It was so easy to pretend
we never existed because nobody asked
our names. Yes, some of us would be dead
within five years, while the rest of us
never spoke again.
Photo © Matthew Friedman