Hot Tub

 

Hot Tub
By Miguel Murphy

A tryst.
That ends
in a nightly dose.

A contradiction,
emptiness
refused by starlight,

the dark
enflamed with error.
Tell me again

what crime you are
so guilty of?
The hot tub,

26 Seconal—
the moon
like ejaculate.

Delicate.
Poor
Barlow,

you felt
so alone;
you were

the only queer.
January 1, 1951.
In the semantics of

your translation
you intend, in Náhuatl
a long while,

to abandon
your cadaver.
There.

About This Poem

“Robert Barlow, aged 16, was either the 43-year old H. P. Lovecraft’s lover for a summer in 1934, or just his disappointed protégé, who in his own middle years would overdose on Seconal after a student threatened to expose him for being that medical monster of the age, a homosexual. The diagnosis, the name of the disease. In 2019, I sit in my hot tub, but the freedoms of this era feel illusory. A single pill a night makes a frightening plague a kind of historical footnote. Such starlight. The backside of the century.”
—Miguel Murphy

Miguel Murphy is the author of Detainee (Barrow Street Press, 2016). He teaches at Santa Monica College and lives in southern California.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

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