I recently released my latest digital chapbook titled Selfie. This marks the first time I’ve self-published an ISBN-holding book. Lethe Press published my two full-length collections, Heterophobia and Exile in Gayville. Those two texts went out of print a few years ago. I was shocked to discover old copies of Exile priced as high as $250. The outrageous cost of Heterophobia and Exile prompted me to re-release digital copies of the book at their fair market value. You can get the Kindle version of Heterophobia by clicking here and the digital iteration of Exile by clicking here.
But I’m primarily here to tell you about Selfie. (Click here to purchase.) I’ve called this micro-collection Selfie for a few different reasons. First, as previously stated, it’s my first time to self-publish an ISBN-holding book. Second, the collection explores today’s selfie-inspired narcissism. The eBook contains 10 poems, 2 micro-stories (prose), and 2 monologues. All of the work is brand new. Here’s a sample of what’s included:
“Sex Ed” (Poetry)
In 9th grade health, Mrs. Hall taught us the gory details of heterosexuality.
She talked about the “female vagina.”
(As opposed to the male vagina?)
She’d say, “The female vagina has pleated walls.”
“The female vagina is teeming with bacteria.”
“The female vagina is self-lubricating and self-cleaning.”
Kids were not informed about the mechanics of gay sex in health class.
There were no after-school specials featuring twinks with kinked bangs,
no animated films that contained lesbians falling from the mouths of storks,
no talk of scissoring, at Cy Fair high school, it was strictly forks.
Queer kids like me learned about their sexuality watching gay pornography.
Once upon a time, in the gay ‘90s,
before Will & Grace touched based with mainstream audiences,
before Lady GaGa belted coming-out anthems for straight tweens
and queens “lip-synched for their lives” on Drag Race, before Lawrence v. Texas decriminalized anal sex,
and long before most sexual minorities vexed the subject of marriage,
gay men had to walk into brick and mortar to purchase porn.
My first trip to the adult bookstore was a master class in humiliation.
I tried to appear casual as I flipped through titles like Assablanca, Ass Ventura: Crack Detective, Six Degrees of Penetration, and How Stella Got Her Tubes Packed.
Ruby red cheeks and neck sweat belied my feigned pride,
as I tried to pull it together.
I devised an airtight lie to tell the clerk:
“This isn’t for me. My friend’s birthday is tomorrow and I thought gay porn would be a hilarious gag gift. What’s funnier than Chitty Chitty Gang Bang? Which, of course, you don’t have,
so I’m going to go with Hung Wankenstein.
She is going to love this.”
My monologue was gay shame set to performance art.
I was the Spalding Gray of gay porn consumerism.
A longwinded narrative accompanied each purchase: “I’m taking a sociology class—
blah, blah, blah,
blah, blah, blah,
blah, blah, blah,
I love porn but not when it serves as a young person’s sole introduction to intimacy.
A teenager’s sex education should not involve movies with slings and cock rings.
There are times I’m on Grindr or some other vapid gay dating app
and am greeted by romantic one-liners like, “Looking?” or “Wanna fuck?”
And I can’t help but reflect on my sexual education, one taught by Ryan Idol-type porn stars.
While hetero kids spent their teens dating
and learning the painstaking details of hetero-penetration,
I was balls-deep in porn star pedagogy.
Falcon “actors” taught me that assholes should be waxed, all do-able men had six-packs,
and love at first sight—be it with a pool boy or prison guard—
never lasts past climax.
I suppose I’ll continue to wait for some great man to sweep me off my
Excerpt from “Picklenose” (Drama)
On June 30, 2004, my father died. His grave is located off the I-10 in Houston. He’s planted right next to an Ikea, which is funny given that he hardly ever bought new furniture.
While Sitting Shiva, which is the Jewish period of mourning, I wanted to do everything I could to make up for lost time and celebrate my father. But I couldn’t even say the Kaddish, which is the Jewish prayer of the dead. I never learned Hebrew—none of his six children had, so a rabbi, who didn’t know my father, recited the Kaddish and four strangers lowered Picklenose’s pine casket into a hole. Welcome to the Dead Dads Club.
Excerpt from “I’ll Never Play Another Video Game” (Drama)
I met my last boyfriend two and a half years ago on a gay dating app called Grindr. What a horrible name. Grindr makes me think of a meat grinder. I don’t want to conjure up images of a meat grinder when I’m going to meet some random guy from the Internet. Can you imagine Jeffrey Dahmer in the digital age? Grindr would be an online candy store for Mr. Dahmer. Or was it doctor?
Most guys on Grindr post pictures in which they’re headless. All you see is a nude torso and a list of things the person does not want in a potential mate. No fats. No fems. No Asians. No trolls. No blacks. Nobody over the age of 25. Gay dating is a demoralizing experience. Finding a gay partner online is even worse because, according to my mother, online courtship will end in death. Like an episode of Heart to Heart: “When they met, it was murder.”
Each man with whom I’ve conversed on Grindr is nothing short of Shakespeare. Before they even say “hello,” I’ve had guys ask me about my “sexy shit pussy.” Sexy. Shit. Pussy. If memory serves me, sexy shit pussy is a phrase borrowed from King Lear. Men on Grindr have offered to be my human toilet. I have pretty low standards when it comes to meeting a man: don’t kill me; don’t mention “licking my shitoris” in the first sentence you type to me; and never assume I’m looking for a human toilet.
Excerpt from “Crab Salad at the Battle of the Flowers” (Prose)
When I was a junior in high school, Dad took me to the Men’s Wearhouse and bought me a double-breasted suit and geometric tie. Depending on the light, the suit was olive, or brown, or gray. That’s the magic of a 1990s double-breasted power suit. It was so many colors—all at the same time. I didn’t have a lot of money growing up, so this was my go-to competition attire all the way through college.
My senior year at the University of Texas, I wore my Men’s Wearhouse haute couture to the annual Battle of the Flowers competition, where individuals wrote and delivered speeches about Texas’ independence. The theme that year was Texas missions. The Daughters of the Republic of Texas sponsored the event. The victor won $3000 and had to ride on the Daughters of the Republic of Texas float at the Battle of the Flowers parade. The judges included the oldest, whitest ladies in Texas, all of whom were, um, daughters of the Republic of, I guess, Texas. They were lovely women who fed us an assortment of deviled eggs and crudités. We were judged on delivery, topicality, and beauty. Needless to say, I had one of the three categories locked down.
The book’s IBSN is 978-1-944170-41-7.