Roman is running the LA marathon.

It’s no touch. No high fives. No kissing.

It’s the time of the virus. What might


have been if the world responded

to gay death in the ‘80s with this level

of alarm? On the dance floor at Akbar


you are so beautiful. I watch other guys

look at you and hope you’re going home

with me. And then you do and we sit


on my porch smoking pot and talking

about portals. You point out Venus

and I go back when we met, two years ago,


watching the stars drunk and high

on a stranger’s lawn. Agnes Denes says

Anything important has to be almost


invisible. And underrated. And strong

enough to hold the earth. And I wonder

if you know, I’m thinking of you now.


You, in my bed, my hand on your inner

thigh, taking you in slow so later—now—

I can feel you when you’re gone.


The runners and those watching are not

wrapped in protective suits. They are still

living their lives in the last open moments.


Every shape, every kind of movement.

I love them at this moment. I miss them

like I miss you. Mountain missing fire.

Click here to read Jeffrey Perkins on the origin of the poem.


Image: “Fire above” by indigoMood, licensed under CC 2.0

Jeffrey Perkins: I wrote an early draft of “Volcano” right after the L.A. Marathon and before the stay at home order in California was announced. As I began to spend all of my days inside my small three room house I continued to go back to the poem and work on revisions as my experience of the quarantine shifted. We’ve all been on various personal journeys since the pandemic began but all of us have had to rethink our relationships with each other. Human connections became fragile. The relationships I had before the pandemic felt more important as those connections faded into the past. Now, the Black Lives Matter Movement has energized the streets of Los Angeles albeit with masks and more space between us than we might want. The streets are alive with people standing up against systemic racism and police brutality and toward justice and a People’s Budget. Our connections shift and mature as we discover how much we need each other and what might be possible for us to do together.

Jeffrey Perkins
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