Galveston, Shrinkage, Why Gunmen Are Often Binary Cis-Men

An actual gun isn’t part of a man’s 
covert junk the last time I checked,
around 2006 in Galveston, Texas. 

I was in search of a Glen Campbell
look-alike, with a belt buckle so big 
you could serve hors-d’oeuvres on it 

to Edna Ferber. I ended up swimming
in my boxers at the end of Republic of Tejas, 
land of the free, home of the butcher.

Some men are growers, some are show-ers.
Shots are not the same as aiming.
A prerequisite. I’ve been on both ends,

this isn’t sexy, staring down a barrel’s exit
or a shot of Glen in a teen magazine at thirteen.
Bad age. I’ve got the same parts as cis-men, 

but a nonbinary person is more than 
the parts of their individual sums. 
I speak to you beyond the low tide 

of packing and crotches, maybe 
from higher up. Gut, heart, mouth, 
mind: when will these align?

This is not about shrinkage, what 
stores call planned losses shoplifted,
the freest of shopping, the concrete 
insensate loss felt ahead of time. 

This is not about shopping. This
depends upon a series of rapid images
like a magazine does, except more skin

is offered as sacrifice to impossible beauty
and shape, like a corpse that poses
in its last classic pose, the one to die for.

Who chooses their final gesture.
Men tend to think in shafts lit fast,
faster than a neuron fires. Ask me
how I know this; question “guys.”

There are more women at work in big
box stores who may lose their shifts today.
Why is death a statistic, I mean
more of a stat, for persons of color.

If you go shopping for American stuff 
today, but not made in the USA, there’s 
a chance you’ll get your final markdown.

No matter what, a box is a box
that frames both death and life,
that first best worst binary. One man’s 
junk is another’s necessities, I am out 

of coffee, cream, Tylenol, Jumex, LaCroix, 
and the vaccine for stupidity, which already 
has a flag at work in the contagious air, 

the ultimate side effect for every patriot 
is media death, it only takes the smallest 
prick to risk a sold herd’s immunity.

If you need me, I’ll be looking 
at magazines, their covers are photo-
shopped. This is the safest place

to duck underneath, in a glossy shield 
of perfected shots from pulp that seized
a moment in time, to let you go out

in a fluttered cascade of rectangular 
renewal cards that waited at the spine
for their marching orders, or afterlife, addressed.

Magazines aren’t armor. Since when.
Men prefer one magazine over another,
and maybe the penis they’re stuck with.

Today, someone will go on owing their
life to the urge for expedient packages.
I meant to say expedited. I meant

I’ve unleashed so many packed, furious words 
at so many men in my life, the post office 
should have enshrined my pic,

my tight-lipped mug with the blankest
of stares, just another American round.
It takes a good man to know one. I am neither.

If there’s a gunwoman in me, I need her
to know on which side her taser is holstered
as a new flag is raised: The Republic of 

Victimized Man-Dudes with Bulleted Lists 
of Primary People to Liquidate, or kneel upon first
in a knee-jerk reaction, for concrete minutes.

Anywhere, the more men fire, the less they think 
of shrinkage, the waning networked regency of veins 
and arteries blood-rushing to size them up, erected

like offshore derricks confusing their gushes 
for ammo from monuments for the already fallen 
by inhuman nature, confusing upwards for down-
wards, soothed by the drill of hidden sources,

where Glen Campbell’s spectral tenor is twanging, 
riding above the waves in common time, 
lashing back at the noted end of upright land-

locked existences, just the conjured sound 
of my first masculine desire, on the airwaves—
a rhinestone cowboy harnessing waves. 

If he is fluid, in the air, or over moving plains
of salt dissolving, can’t we live on sounds, tasked 
to voice a home that soon may only dwell offshore 
in exile from a land in visibly masculine dissolution?


Dusty Mike Perez earned their MFA degree in poetry at the University of Houston as well as an MA in creative writing from Florida State University. Formerly a professional ballet/jazz dancer, they are currently an associate professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. Their poems have appeared in Oscilloscope Lit, BLOOM, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Bluing the Blade, Top Shelf Review, Crab Orchard Review, the Bangalore Review, The Florida Review, Beyond Queer Words, and Sand Hills.