James O'Leary

After Jose Hernandez Diaz

The boygirl with a belly button made of stars takes a late walk at night. The clouds covering the moon don’t resemble a veil so much as a child’s woven hands over an open eye. A pickup truck blasting bass blesses the asphalt with astigmatic light–if the boygirl squints, the night turns criss-crossed horizons, red & white

& green. A man in a burgundy ragged suit follows the boygirl with a belly button made of stars for two blocks. For two blocks footsteps echo not into the sky. One sound slightly behind the next. Is the man following the boygirl? The boygirl wonders, If he is a shadow, then of what? At the corner of a streetthe man climbs cracked steps into a house where the curtains shift open

& closed, a camera rotating back & forth behind tinted windows. The boygirl with a belly button made of stars checks their phone. The boygirl knows not to listen to music or flaunt technology silver under neon dust clouds; must resist the body’s rigid dance with nervousness. But the light reminds them of fingerpainting as a child. Nuclear stomach dancing with bright & face flushed with softblue. The boygirl is lost now. Hey,

says a voice under a street light. The boygirl’s steps have made it to a park, trees & nightfields tinged with orange as if aflame, branches blurring the cityscape’s distant blight. The boygirl sees the sounds as a girlboy, wrench in hand, kneeling over a bench. The bench is impaled at the center with spikes. One could not lie

down to sleep or fuck on the bench in front of the boygirl & girlboy without hurt. The girlboy looses a spike free and eats it. The sound sticky between teeth like old caramel. The boygirl understands. The boygirl & girlboy move quickly together in the orange dark in the trees. One could call this dusk. Between each day

the possibility between bodies for reformation. The boygirl with a belly button made of stars & the girlboy who breaks laws eat antihomeless spikes like strawberries picked ripe: one for you, one for me. What delicious resistance. What possible dreams. When the boygirl & the girlboy kiss it is not unlike the tales of mountains exchanged between messengers of distant lands.



James O’Leary (they/them) is a bi, gender-fluid poet and writer from Arizona. After spending some time up and down their home state, James has currently relocated to New York City, where they are pursuing an MFA at Sarah Lawrence College. James’s most recent work has appeared in such places as Frontier, HAD, The Indianapolis Review, and Kissing Dynamite, where their work was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. You can find James on Twitter @thesundaypoet.