The Flirt

The Flirt


I don’t flirt

unless I mean it

a compliment is not flirting

unless you feel


a compliment is not a threat

is not a come on

but sometimes

it is another condescending 

patriarchal comment

based on cultural imposed definitions

of what is pretty 




so I often say nothing

that might reflect an opinion

it is less complicated

when you don’t have an opinion

you aren’t responsible

for defending it explaining it changing it

I can be a little more open

to what is around me

it is easier to negotiate the traffic

when one isn’t preoccupied

with an inner monologue

about the driving habits of others

I get to pay attention

to what I am hearing 

as opposed to formulating

a response

to what I think someone is saying

by the way

I was flirting

Working with language one learns to say what one means – not that ambiguity or unreliable narrators aren’t useful tools in fiction & poetry – but in conversations with real people ambiguity can be treacherous: ‘That’s not what I meant’ ‘You took that the wrong way’ “I was just joking.’ 

Which can be complicated by the person who hears what they want regardless of what you say, or who reads more into what you say than you mean, or take offence at simple things – “Good morning – What’s so good about it?” “Have a great day – You don’t care what kind of day I have.”

It’s a wonder people have relationships at all with the often unreliability of language itself. To spare one another’s feelings, or merely to be likeable we end up snared by codependency. Rather that saying ‘no – never’ we say ‘not now.’ People say ‘just sex is fine’ while hiding ‘let’s fall in love’ so as not to appear too demanding.

At times we over-compensate to be ingratiating or cheerful. “Nothing fucking rainy day. – Oh, but rain is good for gardens.” You get the subtext 🙂 These are all examples from my life. I learned the ‘don’t flirt’ many years ago. In the queer world sexualizing language is easy & considered sort of campy & clever. A guy I did this sort of word play with took it as a serious come on. I was only interested in the word play & was pissed when I told him that. So I stopped that sort of interaction, unless I mean it.

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each day of silence

creates impatience

people want to know

families loved ones

want to know

reporters want to know

completion impossible

until we know

yet even when we know

the details are shocking


speculation remains unsubstantiated 

though the layers of facts

builds up

for two to three to eight

fragments found buried deep

in planters

under the noses

of even the lookers

of even the ignorers


each day of silence

is remembered with longing

the silence of unknowing

offered a solace

that the noise of facts

can never provide

Another piece that was written when the alleged serial killer of gay men was finally making the news. ‘Alleged’ is one of those words that allows media to distance itself – it doesn’t make a commitment to concrete fact – much like the notion of the serial killer that was deemed circumstantial & unsubstantiated for a few years.

The dots connected the many missing men were not connected but considered merely coincidental – after all, homeless and/or immigrant men were disappearing all the time – in some cases this disappearances went unreported or weren’t seen as connected to the gay missing.

This piece is as much about the media’s use of language as it is about the search, which by this time had finally turned up remains in planters. No names were associated with those remains while forensics determined if they were even human.

The alleged killer was identified as ‘a person of interest’. I rarely write about ‘current events’ but this one resonated deeply with me or many reasons – the prime being that I casually met one of the victims some time before he went missing. Many of the victims were a physical type I find attractive, the ‘alleged’ killer was not.


‘the silence of unknowing’ includes the not knowing the details of how these men were murdered. For some just knowing their loved one was involved in gay activities was already too much but the nature of the sexual activities involved was more than they needed to find out. I’m not sure what ‘sense of completion’ resulted for anyone.


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