Three Poems by Jonathan May

Jonathan May

Jonathan May

Jonathan May grew up in Zimbabwe as the child of missionaries. He currently teaches in Memphis, TN. Other work has appeared in [PANK] and Rock & Sling. He is currently translating a play by Günter Eich into English and holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Memphis.


You imagine he does this every night,
knocks on a car window, asks for a ride.
When you acquiesce, he smiles and lights
the half-fag dangled from his lips. No pride
matters now or ever has. Ratty shorts
barely cover his knees. He asks if he
can suck on your nipple, his thumb cohort
to pleasure, tracing orbs you only see
pink in your mind’s eye, his rising breath hot.
You grow hard with fear, and on the wheel play
your hands like young deer in the dark. You ought
to pull into the gas station and say
I’m just going to get a bag of chips
I’m just going to get a bag of chips

from “The Disappearing City”

“sometimes I confuse things with other things
and the urgency of that error clamps me shut
like a clipped bird. My wobble head isn’t used
to taking desire for friendship, mouth clamped
down on my neck like a hot stone. The simile
is important because I am still not sure I know
how to desire properly—I feel ersatzly, I feel
ever complicated about you, whoever you are,
because I need you to hold me at night, I need
you to shout at me when I’m cruel, but knowing
you don’t yet have a form, I assume you can be
anyone, hence the confusion. You must know I—”


Sources say you stare into the mirror for a long time in the morning,
that you sometimes eat cereal, sometimes just bacon, before taking
your medication. Sources revealed that you still think about losing
J— whenever you see sunset devouring wide prairie skies, knowing
you were the lesser one. According to your own heart, your waking
increases this distance, so it feels less and less each time. According
to your head, you will move on, to another city maybe, life-making
until you are lost in yourself again. Sources believe you might sing.