We fool around in the sauna

Queer intimacy and physical spaces, both public and private, have long been had a push and pull with one another. It wasn’t long ago that queer people could be arrested and charged with as criminals for displays of affection in public, a lingering shadow whose tendrils still creep into the present. Perhaps, though, that inherited danger of being caught comes alive in new ways. With another man, whether in the privacy of my apartment or on a shadowed boardwalk in Fire Island, there’s an urgency with sex; a latent awareness that we are rushing toward an ending. Aware that our pleasure is finite in a way that feels indescribable. Do the ghosts of the past still haunt our hungers today? Or is it simply the thrill of being caught at our most exposed, our most vulnerable?

at our gym, mostly because we can.
Proximity is an analogue for

hunger and danger, hanging over us
like an old witch’s curse

since we first opened our eyes. I’m sorry
for trying to find meaning in this;

I hate that I can’t simply enjoy a stranger’s
naked body as he removes his towel, as he

reveals the carved rivulets
his bones and musculature create,

as he beckons me through the choke
of hot air to come swallow him like an unfinished

sentence. He makes me suck him off,
my throat tightening in anticipation of being seen,

damned because we happened to be here together.
Because we know our bodies are a living countdown.

Even we can make these little deaths
a miracle when our limbs

fit into one another when least expected. I’m sorry
for not letting pleasure simply be pleasure,

but perhaps he won’t mind. When I come up for air,
lips wet, head shaking, his chest expands as if

he’s inhaled whole galaxies. In the silence, he betrays nothing
but sighs, as if to say this is how we live forever.

Daniel Brennan (he/him) is a queer writer and coffee devotee from New York, where he lives in an apartment being slowly overtaken by stacks of books. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including Passengers Journal, The Banyan Review, Birdcoat Quarterly, Sky Island Journal, and The Pinch. He can be found on Twitter and Instagram @dannyjbrennan.



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We fool around in the sauna, Daniel Brennan
Unforgiven Etymology, Jaz Sufi
How it Began, Jana-Lee Germaine
A Sonnet for My Moon Baby, Claire Zhou
Necromancy, Muiz Ajayi
Hot Girl Prayer, Sahara Sidi


Afterimage, Santiago Márquez Ramos
Trigger Warning, Caitlyn Hunter
A Pure Catastrophe, Zaynab Hassan
Dreamy and Content, Katie Quach
The Art of Planting Flowers, Amara Okolo


Internal Battle, Britnie Walston
Pop Machine, Richard Lingo
Bleed, Elizabeth Yuan
After the Squirrels Have Feasted—What Remains 2, Karen Pierce Gonzalez