Literature Michael Russell Poetry


Michael Russell

I hold the last picture of you
fold it into the pocket of my mouth,

Daddy, you taste like love
and devastation.
My teeth rip you
the way you ripped yourself from me.

In front of the bathroom mirror
I ask Where is Stephen?
The steam lifts like a bridal veil and I vomit
the wolf-grey feathers of a mourning dove.

Daddy, your dragon-breath
fills me with lightning,
my pores erupt
with booze-stench,

a door into you—

take me
as your son.


Your name moves through me, poltergeist.

Bookshelves soar across my room
with the flick of a finger,
binders filled with poems
arrow into basement light,


A shard of mirror films me:

I am my father.
Everything I love,


I found you
in a room
that wasn’t home.

Knife shoved
in the soft of your neck,
like a badly hung picture.


I open a window—
gay porn.

A twink, nailed
by daddy, screams.

His yelps fill the room
with slaughter

ropes of white shoot
across hairless stomach.

The haunt of my father’s footsteps
lick the concrete outside

my door.
His fist, meteor

rattles the wood
between us.

My breath
chalked with cybersex

my throat.

He lights me, candle
on a birthday cake

and makes a wish—
watches as I melt.


The first time I kissed a boy
in public
there was an audience.

A man in a black pickup shouted
fucking faggots.

His face, daddy’s,
leathered from decades
of hard liquor.

My father, a ghost,
lived in his body,
took root,
changed him like whiskey.

Their eyes
imagined my head
face-down in the lap

of a river.


Michael Russell is a queer poet with BPD, bipolar disorder, and massive jolts of anxiety. His first chapbook, Grindr Opera, was published by Frog Hollow Press in their Dis/Ability Series (2019). He lives in Toronto. His work has appeared in The Maynard, (parenthetical), Prairie Fire, The Quilliad, and untethered, among other places. He thinks you’re fantabulous. Instagram: @michael.russell.poet