Sean Hanrahan

Sean Hanrahan is a Philadelphian poet originally hailing from Dale City, Virginia. He is the author of the chapbook, Hardened Eyes on the Scan, published in 2018 by Moonstone Press. His work has also been included in several anthologies and journals, including the Stonewall’s Legacy anthology. He currently serves on the Moonstone Press Editorial Board, as a poetry editor for Toho, and as an instructor for Green Street Poetry.

Acquaintance

 

I think it’s important to remember our dead—

it’s one of the most human things we can do.

I once spent the night on this man’s couch

where roach clips smiled on the coffee table

and kind bud and coat dander flecked the nap.

His apartment was left the way his dead parents

decorated it. China patterns from a Floridian

antiquity laid out for a bachelor type breakfast.

He wanted to know how my husband and I

clicked. He was always on the lookout for a

younger man, but depression slowed him down.

Too many setbacks perhaps caused the stroke

or heart attack. He could be any gay man of a

certain age—he had the wit and the pop culture

knowledge. Chemical dependence may have

rubbed the difference away. Found dead with his eyes

open, was he surprised to see the world go? Relieved?

Like all gay wise men, he will keep the knowing

to himself. If only he could light a joint, and tell

us about it, or remind us again how his life paralleled

The Return of the Secaucus Seven. After I answer the call,

I go for a walk, not sure whether I have the right to mourn.

I see shoes dangle on the telephone wire and wonder

if they’re his size. It’s as if someone lobbed them there

in his memory—blue and white swooshed Nikes

blurring into the afternoon sky. Like we do with so

many of our acquaintances, I just took him for granted,

and the tears I shed may be for my own mortality, not his.

Crying for that sorrow may be the most human,

I never said admirable, thing we can do.

 

 

Avuncular

 

 

We are watching the decline,

the uncles we barely know die.

We are shivering in the late,

last winter of capitalistic decay.

 

We tasted it in the anomie of the nineties,

could never quite believe the shiny,

science optimism of the fifties and sixties,

beliefs as mutable as an ill-fitting hairpiece.

 

The aunts who kept us safe have left the house.

They used to soothe. They used to grouse.

Their curses have weakened the patriarchy,

the imbalance, the unfair power monopoly.

 

They divorced jolly uncles with bellies full of laughs

and suitcases full of travel trinket graft.

Mysterious men who kept the status quo, made it look fun

as society kept others pressed under a calloused thumb.

 

Days spent coveting magazine advertising shams,

a slimmer self, toned arms, shapely gams,

the right hat, the right suit, the right dress

would make you irresistible, a sartorial success.

 

It was the avuncular nature of our culture

that led us astray and turned us into vultures

pecking away at earth’s entrails,

caught up in the genial, the general,

 

while we should have been concerned with the details.