Thomas Renjilian

Two Summers, A Prayer to Saint Luke

Forgive us the summer we sold ourselves
beat our hearts until our blood bags filled. !50!That June

we wore long sleeves. Sweat soaked, we were always crushing
toilet paper wads to wipe spills we left in handicap stalls.

We hadn’t had sex yet and needed cash for cotton candy
flavored vodka that helped us talk online to tattooed guys 

in other towns, so nurses laid us parallel and hooked us up
with tubes in our wrists. We were learning the compulsory

prick and twitch. The phlebotomists shouted Get a grip
when we went limp, and when we stood again, we were chilled 

by solutions they pumped through us. We left lightheaded. That question:
have you had, have you had—no. Imagine our shame.

We wet our mothers’ scented tissues. We played Violent Femmes 
in cars borrowed from our dads. We imagined fucking reckless men 

on moss-soft rocks in foggy parks. But our veins stung.
Was this the drain of want and loss? No, just the rote ghost

of future theft. Forgive our resentment of summers no one touched
except sterile hands coaxing still young, still unspiked blood. 

And forgive us the summer we did not watch our drinks.
You never warned what would course through us— no virus 

like the phlebotomists feared, just a drug deleting us 
so some creep could scrawl lust on bodies once ours.

Forgive us the hour we wandered delirious in too tight baby blue 
briefs we’d had since school, our soft cocks out on the sidewalk. 

When the cops said someone had a good night, forgive that we didn’t
know who they meant, failed to inventory what was taken

from our vacant bodies—still can’t. When the doctor asked did you
we held out our wrist as if on cue. Forgive us 

the faint the wake the wonder the ambulance ride and answer: if Christ 
absolves sins & piss drains blood of GHB, why make shame lasting 

as medical debt? It’s not like us to ghost when shown love. Still we silence
your nagging late night calls. !50!As summer ends, 

I guess you better stick to shots, a good friend says at Brighton Beach. 
Meanwhile, Twitter says Moscow Twitter says KGB Twitter says conspiracy

and the friend says Fuck me senseless. Oh, sorry. So we get martinis 
at a gaudy Russian place. The busboy brings us olives on a plate. 

Oh, pitless orgy, Oh, puddle of brine, leave us chilled and dirty boys dry 
enough to remember the feel of nights alone, the feel of nights 

not passed out on the floor of St. Luke’s. Doctor, I’ll strip
your olive branch down to its sap. I’ll let you down, you hung

evangelist, I’ll forget absolution if you’ll help me remember: 
Was there ever a summer when we were just boys?

When we knew where we’d be every single time we fell asleep?

Thomas Renjilian is a queer writer originally from Scranton, Pennsylvania. He received his BA from Vassar College and MFA from Oregon State University. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Joyland, DIAGRAM, Hobart, Thrush, SmokeLong Quarterly, and elsewhere. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing & Literature at the University of Southern California, where he is a Dornsife Fellow.
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    Ernest O. Ògúnyẹmí