The Phantom of the Opera

                                                    by Kevin Killian

Had this been a heterosexual these two boys decided to take out and rob, this never would have made the national news. Now my son is guilty before he’s even had a trial.

His little feet are green.
Take the barrel off the wright
for his green feet. For a load of
chops. Matthew Shepard, 21
Propellor to the stars, the green stars, high over Laramie’s
outskirts and weary and back to the base line
the fence on which they found him
a scarecrow

I fell apart when he approached,
a dizzy fog flailing round my skeleton
arms flapping, and used this
to write novels

the beautiful birds this dead boy scared away
the welts forensics took for burns

this weakness—
in intensive care
Nurse figures in transit, and swift about it
Doctor, stat,

have you ever seen feet so green
he’s been stepping on clover
a piece of state scum

dunked into a barrel. Boys
said the queen of Minna Street
have you been set upon by thugs

Russell Henderson, 21
Aaron McKinley, 22,
themselves slight,
who robbed you of your underwear

Boys don’t forget me
I’ve your welfare at heart
said the queen of Minna Street
his pale feet in the rug of their scalp

As they walk away
their asses throb like chlorophyll

A is for Kevin
B is for missed the bus on O’Farrell Street, standing there, 
         my paper and dick
C is for AIDS deaths dropped in half in 1997, now only the 
         15th killer in America
D is for plastic sheets, two men huddle beneath, dancing, 
         performance and E is for the night we
saw Louis Malle and Uma Thurman in that restaurant
         and met Kiki Smith

"F," as in Clint Eastwood, hairy stare
         K to the I to the double-L
anagram = Old West action, what do they spell

Matthew Shepard, 105 pounds, five foot two,

"G," — other causes leap out of the pack
         accident, suicide, murder, sign of the cross
                  as AIDS drop down to 15
                           after 15 years
and murder in Laramie
         "A" is to axe and "H" is to hatchet
"I" is for "iris" and "J" is for "jacket"
He took a long turn to 405,
kept the cure, his neck burnt black
"J" put the stopper in perfume X
took the wheat from the Blistex bottle
"K" for the almost perceptible slur
in your bankbook, I don’t remember half
of these guys, that got key-toned

Exist now as letters only —
alphabet mired in gum
"L" is for Matthew, who sat on a fence, scaring crows,
"M" did the wild thing on my dime

The pop art [George Oppen wrote] — a Disneyland tour of Dadism? or the anger, the destructivness of the homosexual, the totally disconnected, the man without natural valences — to him not only the structure but the purposes of society must seem AT ALL MOMENTS totally absurd.

Black plantain cross rosary plate
on snowy white linen
snarled with your drool
so I keep my books in plastic sheets
I am the little boy who went in
          to the sea to rescue your scarf

from misery heap, picked over by
hungry —
and —
It is true, Christine

I am not an Angel, nor
a genius, nor a ghost

I am Erik

Forget the name of the man’s voice

the corpses change but the party goes on forever,