Issue > Poetry
David Groff

David Groff

David Groff’s book Clay was chosen by Michael Waters for the Louise Bogan Award. His collection Theory of Devolution was selected by Mark Doty for the National Poetry Series. He has co-edited two anthologies, Who’s Yer Daddy? Gay Writers Celebrate Their Mentors & Forerunners and Persistent Voices: Poetry by Writers Lost to AIDS. An independent book editor, he teaches in the MFA program at CCNY.   

You're in My Light


said my father to his boy
when I leaned under his lamp,
crawling against his wingback
in my short joy.

I never got that he meant
I darkened his text,
could never connect
my shadow, his head bent.

I thought I cast no shade,
that my body was just myself,
apprentice to his mass.            
But I had the shape to have made

myself a power of dark.
I thought I could see to read
in any light God shed,
sunlight or spark.

Now he is dead, past text,
no light at all on his lap.
You're in my light
and I can't see what's next,

he says. I say back,
You're in my light.
And so we share our shade,
both of us light and its lack.

I with No Rights in This Matter


All day I have been looking for my children
who I know will never exist.      
I do not find them in the forms of my students
though I would pluck them out of traffic
as if my genes were speaking. Nor are my children
my nieces and nephews whose blood bears
resemblances to my own, in whom I echo.
They have parents to belong to, and I borrow them.

Tangled amid the toddlers in strollers,
the elementary kids skipping beside their dads to school,
the ten-year-olds walking boldly alone
past the chanting man and the compost bin,
the sullen or screeching teens all angry angles,
their parents practiced men and women
who once as babies might have sat on my lap
and now run enterprises,
                                        I am where among them?
My non-procreation seemed the condition of my freedom,
I who swept from man to man, who lived like a boy,
who felt like no one's father, not even his own,
who in the prime of his sperm suspected his semen was deadly,
who saw men of a generation give birth to death,
his ejaculations dead ends, ciphers of surges and love,
who can't run fast enough to catch the fading train.

Still I feel in the fork of my jeans
the churning germ I produce even now,
those millions, however warped and bent,
clamoring to make half the child I will not make,
striving inside me as I try to bear
the mostly straight world's stranger-children,
offspring owned by no one, really,
amazing in their incipient decay,
stray as leaves and already scattering,
running to the risk of the intersection,
all of them my letters to God on the street.  
I let them go ahead of me.

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