Sam Herschel Wein

Thinking about whistles

He wrangled my pinky with his lasso body,
hips swinging to music, feet pressed in
a lover’s stance, arms inching, a cater–
pillar sleek and nuzzling a leaf. But this
isn’t nature, no blooming regalias, no
grass stems to whistle through. We’re at
a concert, he holds my hand, and I’m
thinking about whistles – about levels
of noise capable from tiny plastic or
metal, and I think about my friend Brant:
complete pacifist, heart the size of an
elephant fully grown, how he has
different whistles to call for various
animals and how he grew up in a family
who used those whistles to shoot creatures
fucking dead, how Brant, young, beard–
less boyish face, wouldn’t shoot geese
or ducks and it drove the whole family
wild. But the concert – his hand is in
mine and I just want a world to not
need any whistles. I wish the windows
to our souls were free of cleanings, no
sponges leaving puddles on our ears.
I’m sweating, thinking about my past. He
can feel the globules, I know it. I wanted
to do this, just once, hold hands at a
concert like everyone else and stop my
mind from becoming a warzone of me,
of us, of a chair cracking our skulls, of
two grown men helping me lick the beer–
stuck floor, of shattering persons all
exclaiming “it’s because you are this! and
this! and this!” and I sweat–monster pull
my hand, river water wet, to my pocket,
and I no longer want to be anywhere but
a non–existent home, and I think, why
do I read so many news stories of faggots
beat down in public? it’s like I’m here
summoning my own demise, and I think,
they want me to be responsible for me, for
my own safety, and I say, streaming tears
but force myself to whisper, listen, I say,
I’ll hold your hand, but it can’t be on me
if this bar comes crumbling down.

Sam Herschel Wein is a current Chicago resident who works in gender/sexuality youth health research. He is a poetry reader for The Blueshift Journal, and is co-founder of a new journal Underblong with his friend and esteemed poet, Chen Chen. Recent work has appeared in Word Riot, Salt Hill, and Nightblock Magazine, among others. See what he’s up to at www.shmoowrites.com.




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