Enjoy Being Human

Lucas Wildner

“…don’t bleed.”

I used to lie
on the questionnaires. A role play
made tolerable if I imagined
the three people who couldn't live
without. Eligibility, an evaluation
of my lifestyle. A secret
joy in the possibility
that closeted blood could save
who prayed for my soul.


Under current federal guidelines,
a man in a monogamous relationship
with another man
is eligible to give blood—
must defer for—twelve months
after "his most recent sexual contact."
Ambiguity condones skepticism:
did you even know his name?

This on the LGBTQ+ Donors page.
A recent addition to the site,
I learn, after browsing
the Wayback Machine captures

from 2009 to 2017. I find
Can I get HIV from donating blood?
in every version.


After my third donation,    (Defer:)
I questioned   (to delay,)
the convenience (to postpone conscription,)
of my silence. (to submit humbly.)


queers insist they're proud
to serve. I admit,
shifting attention
from homophobic policy
to redemption narrative
is a neat trick. Celibacy,
still our patriotic duty.
Citizen defined belong to,
as in membership,
as in property.

Excerpt from "Inquisition"

Students describe me as sassy.

A compliment or polite pity

for the body refusing
its own name. Read:

hourly negotiations with masculinity
as classroom management.

to tear flesh. A pleasure

in my bloodlust—
if they're laughing, at least
they’re laughing. I settle

for the complicity
of a smirk or nod. I know

I'm not the first
to be handed a sewn costume
and hear it called skin,
to ponder how to act
the rare moments
I am alone
(in a room

emptied of eyes).

Hours after I take them off,
I still feel the tie
pressing my throat,
shoes heavy on my feet—

carapace or scar tissue. I’m left
to choose its name
not the ache.

About Lucas Wildner

Contributor headshot, Lucas Wildner

Lucas Wildner hikes and teaches in southern King County, and is a volunteer for the Seattle Arts and Lectures Writers in the Schools program. His current project examines the relationships between internalized homophobia and white privilege. Recent work lives at Entropy, birds piled loosely, and Green Linden. On Twitter @wucas_lildner. Say hi?

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