Heterosexuality as Custom

Ricardo Maldonado

A sense of men’s privacy and what they may have
hidden when they remain

in indeterminate age, with meals and extravagant uniforms.
They recede in a calming way before men

breach, before men resign
the chance to tender their love of human history,

as if they were exhausted by desire in the dangerous
ceremony of male love,

and use an inside voice when activity begins—
each search accompanied by sleeplessness, drink,

and of course, the addictive life, with different contingencies
for the commute.

Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace—thou talk’st of men’s urgency
and absolute diligence—men consumed

by enmity and what they are meant to retrieve,
the milk now set to expiration.

Ricardo Alberto Maldonado was born and raised in Puerto Rico. His poems and translations have appeared in Boston Review, DIAGRAM, Sidebrow, and Guernica. A recipient of fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts and Queer/Arts/Mentorship, he is the Managing Director of the 92Y Unterberg Poetry Center.