Southern summer at the drive-thru, hot
long past 3 AM, glitter from some drag
show queen’s plastic tits stuck to our cheeks
with sweat, smeared lipstick, smudged eyeliner,
someone else’s bracelet on your arm—
you traded with them on the dance floor
just before the cops came through
to shut it down, said there were drugs
(they always say there’s drugs
on Queer Night, this town too small
to have a whole queer bar)—I ask you
whose it was. You don’t know. But
you kissed him. You laugh. You kiss
a lot of boys! How could you
be bothered to know their names.
Fair enough. The line is years long,
Taco Bell the only place open later
than the bars. In front of us, a lifted
pickup with a sticker of a flag with
a thin blue line. Headlights behind
show more than we hoped for—but
that’s not true—we’re not trying to hide,
are we? My bumper covered in rainbows—
God’s most ostentatious gift. Like us.
At the window, you lean across me
to yell for sauces—all the sauces—
and then we’re on our way to your place
to eat. We dump it all out on the counter,
sort through the hot sauce and push
packets to each other to read, a ritual:
(Mild) You’re my forever.
(Hot) I can’t let you go.
I swear we’ll make it out of here alive.
Raye Hendrix is a writer from Alabama. Raye is the author of the chapbooks Every Journal Is A Plague Journal (Bottlecap Press) and Fire Sermons (Ghost City Press), and serves as the poetry editor of Press Pause Press. Raye is the winner of the 2019 Keene Prize for Literature and Southern Indiana Review’s 2018 Patricia Aakhus Award, and her work has been featured in Poetry Daily, 32 Poems, Shenandoah, Cimarron Review, Poetry Northwest, Zone 3, The Adroit Journal, and elsewhere. Raye holds degrees from Auburn University and an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin. Raye is a PhD candidate at the University of Oregon studying Deafness, Disability, and Poetry. You can find more of their work at rayehendrix.com.