SPOTLIGHT: Feats of Alchemy by Donny Winter

Queer Confession #2

I always dreamed of simple things
because the reality of them
seemed too far away, spaced by distance,
years in wait, and a thirst to belong
like a rogue planet lost between
solar systems.

I always dreamed of simple things
and the reality of them seems near
since the universe projected me
forward to now, as he lays next to me
falling asleep still clutching his book,
glasses crooked on his face.

I always dreamed of simple things
and now they’re here, tangibly present,
even as I smile, remove his glasses, and
turn off the lamp, I know we burn
like binary stars in elliptical consistency,
so, as I go to bed next to you,

I draw the lines between our eyes
to connect the dots we make in
this constellation, now refined.

Queer Confession #3

What is happiness
when it fits too tight for me
like the shirt I bought
recently, too small to wear,
though tasteful closet décor?

What is well-being
when it’s a passing rainstorm
on a desert plane
with no memory of thirst
nor knowledge of elation?

What is love
when it was a distant star
far from any wish,
a romantic Disney dream
out of our periphery?

What is fulfillment
when our stomachs have grown used
to this love-hunger
at tables in marginal
distance of happy lovers?

Cyberpunk [Un]dead

Now that I’m finally seen,
the cities flee at the way my alloy glints
through the smog, beneath the half-lit neon signs
of vacant clubs, defunct shops, and cracked church cherubs.

Some thought me a monster
and flocked to curbsides to preach the end times,
while others gazed in pity from their balconies
at the mangled contraption in their streets, half-welded.

I’ve lost track of the years
trudging through each city, across each desert plain,
and beneath the vast, depleted forests.
I’ve seen ages pass into oblivion, the tide-flow of division,

yet here I am: a figment of their industrial hell, out-living
their flasks of holy water, now evaporated
their smoke-choking factories, now crumbling.
I’ve survived the naysayers, the fear-mongers,

the religious dread, and now I’ve accepted this involuntary reanimation into a cyberpunk [un]dead.

Scrap Metal

The world has warmed in fever heat
and the landfills now swelter
behind heat ripples, while I,
aimless and independent,
salvage scrap metal to stay alive—
because these alloy-insides have weathered
and I’ve outlived my creator.

The White Flag is Willingly Taciturn

The over-weaponized army marches
as gun shells spill from open mouths
still wide from the war four years ago,
while the “torchbearers” rev
by a new fuel, untapped, standing by.
We, with the phantom-shrapnel pain
in our chests, watch from our balconies
as they burn the parchment-paper dream
only to cradle our conscience safely
because this is a war we never signed up for,
and thus, “not our battle,” so the white flag
we raise waves in smoke-brindle winds,
a hush, taciturn, when our voices
wielded properly could be javelins.


America’s the gulf
and you’re the spill,
a spew of charcoal gold
that the misled pan
because every word
coats their eyes and ears
in a tar mistaken as
a mud bath and you,
while they’re complacent,
frack the facts into depths
until the crust cracks in a
blunder mistaken as thunder,
and as their fuel light burns out,
you promise to never surrender,
pledge to them that fictional riches
will finally trickle down
despite the way you sit
atop the surface like a
disbanded refinery, still
open for business.

Queer Confession #6

We sit in closets
still contemplating ourselves
through the old traumas,
the ones we never shared
out of fear of rejection.

Some of us are kids
locked in adult bodies
because our shame stays
glued inside our rib cages
and expands with each year.

Our weathered clothes hang
heavy upon their hangers,
off-colored like us
and our carefully crafted
self-deprecating humor.

Whispers wet our lips
as we shift into thirties
with partners beside;
we pray to these vacancies
that we won’t ruin them too.


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