4 poems by Lucas Wildner – The Feminist Wire

4 poems by Lucas Wildner


for Rafael



At the second wedding,

in between bass drum beats

rattling bones to animate bodies

into movement

I find myself

dancing alone,

my only partner

the question

I hoped I wouldn’t have

to contemplate

surrounded as I am

by the sweating, smiling faces

of aunts and cousins

I do not know.


Who failed whom?



The routine:

boyfriends dance near me

in an anxious geometry of distances—

never hovering closer

than the closest friend,

they even smile apologies

for touching my arm



Awkward and blatant as boys,

they step back into the drink-line

whenever a slow song

lumbers out of the speakers.

Their earnest mouths

ask me,

“Do you want anything?”




At a club a friend

interrupts his dance tutorial

to pop his lips onto mine

when a man nearby

confuses courtesy

with flirtation

and advances aggressive

enough for us to invoke

a boyfriend’s privilege

of possession.


To be kissed felt equal

to being displayed—

Each, the metallic

melody of coins

slipped into my pocket.


Alone together again,

we laugh off the encounter

and resume practicing.

His hands reach out

to guide my hips,

teaching them how

to move with his.




Dinner With Orpheus


When we walk into the restaurant,

I spot a former student

at a table with his dad.

A surprised smile

splits both of our faces open

as the routine starts:

I walk over to his table

and ask him about life after high school,

what major he’s thinking about pursuing—

innocuous questions to suggest

an interest in the particular luminosity

of his future.


My hands hold each other in midair.


Just as our smiles finish deflating,

I wish them a good night

to end the conversation.

They resume concentrating on

concentrating on their meal.

I turn to find my boyfriend

has disappeared, leaving

a text in my pocket

confessing he didn’t know

what to do.


The second shame:

I was not surprised, for in that moment

I could not help but remember Orpheus—

how he looked back

not out of excitement

or of anxiety at rescuing his lover,

but to say good bye

to someone he knew

he had already lost.




“I only have safe sex.”


“Safe from what?” He smiles—

oblivious or impervious to nuance.


I am and am not inside him.

Proximity is safety—Noli me tangere.


He offers to swallow me if I am clean.

I would and would not be inside him.


I realize I do not know my status.

I am sheath and thorn. I lie,


tell him it’s too late as I pull away

to dispose the lack.




Striking Surface


We were your series

of investigations.

You pulled a book of matches

from the coin purse,

offered your reprimand:

“You don’t smoke anything,

so what’s the point?”

Your hands waving

the book at me

like a lecture

on efficiency.

But efficiency

is so quiet.

Couldn’t tell you

about the man

who served me

gin and compliments

before slipping the matches

in my breast pocket.

Your hands, too heavy

to hold mine

in the grocery store.

Gripped the cart.

When I was ready

to leave you

I remember wanting

to strike a match

down your spine—

even if sweat foiled the catch —

to smell the sulfur

I lay next to.



LucasLucas Wildner is a high school English teacher in Tucson, Arizona. He will complete his MFA program at the University of Arizona in December.