it was a turn of the lip

not quite a frown or sneer

it was flicker of the eye

not quite dismissive or interested

it was a way of standing

not quite firm or willing to go

unopen but present all the same


I’m not sure if any of that

pulls my eyes to him

one in a room of chattering many


perhaps it was the size and shape

the full body and solid shoulders

legs that apparently were used for more

than standing around to wait

in faded cutoffs with

the folds of heavy socks

rising from well worn runners


I was tempted   sullen had an allure

in this room of calculating men

all of whom had their looks

mostly looks of

not now keep looking

don’t waste your breath


perhaps it was the hint of fear

I sense under the sullen

that reflected mine

me there

also not disinterested

but not invitingly either

the need to be present

in case something was missed

something that would arrive

in a minute


looking at him

I knew my minute was up

my sullen package had arrived

and even if it wasn’t open

I would enjoy the chance

to check it out


I stare

he stares away

a little less sullen

his gaze returns

please don’t smile

we don’t want a smile to spoil this


he steps towards me

I step towards him

mutual scowls deepen

two dark clouds meet

to create

a storm of anticipation


This month I’m looking back to the pieces of mine that were published in the first Renaissance Conspiracy anthology in 2004. Sullen is another queer piece – more adult than Camping – in which I explore bar culture in, what I see as now, in a non-threatening way – guys looking and the anxieties inherent in pick up negotiations.


well unfurnished

I bring in some of the things that can catch and hold my attention – there are web sites devoted to heavy socks and well worn runners (I looked once but pictures don’t keep my attention the way an actual person in front of me can). So much of this bar cruising is eyes. This is universal – we catch with the eyes. Women toss their hair – gay guys shift their hips.


hopeless hassock

Even if the eyes are saying maybe the body can be signalling ‘what are you waiting for.’ Sullenness doesn’t really have much sex appeal for me but it does for many. Scruffy is more alluring for me. This isn’t about a particular instance either but many which haven’t even gone beyond the look stage. Most often I’d get the ‘keep looking/ don’t waste your breath’ attitude or the blank stare over my shoulder.


no use hiding back there

I’m not a sullen guy which has always worked against me. Intense maybe, focused but not glum or sulky enough for those that gravitate to to that sort of man. Its been years since I’ve been in a bar, which I think holds true for many men – the internet has changed the cruising scene drastically. At least in a bar you knew the face you saw belonged to the body in front of you.


June 9-10-11 – attending – Capturing Fire 2017 – Washington DC


Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr


One thought on “Sullen

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