two poems by john compton


your mouth is my grandmother’s.
now she speaks with her dead voice
from your vocal cords.

the sharp vowels try to pin my conscience—
strong consonants devalue my power;
the words themselves leak resin.

wife & children escape her teeth
trying to catch me. she cannot understand
i don’t want either,

that i am not gay because i choose to be
but simply: i am.
her pyramid scheme of love

is ancient.
she drives to me with prayer.
i turn her away with heat.



if my father had not sewn his palms
to my mother’s womb,
i would have never known his existence.

his voice like vinyl, thick & scratched:
barely audible through the skin—
if he had known my ears worked

maybe his voice would have been louder
& he wouldn’t have been afraid to say
i love you.


john compton (b. 1987) is gay poet who lives in kentucky. he lives in a tiny town, with his husband josh and their 3 dogs and 2 cats. he has published 2 books and 5 chapbooks published and forthcoming: trainride elsewhere (august 2016) from Pressed Wafer/tba; stranger in the attic of cloud (tba) from dead man’s press ink; that moan like a saxophone (december 2016) from kindle; ampersand (march 2018) from Plan B Press; a child growing wild inside the mothering womb (june 2020) from ghost city press; i saw god cooking children / paint their bones (oct 2020) from blood pudding press; to wash all the pretty things off my skin (sept 2021) from ethel zine & micro-press. he has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies. he has 2 pushcart nominations.