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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, June 1, 2018.
About this Poem 

“I was recently in a mall bookstore, and as I watched the men shift and avert their eyes in front of the porno mags, I remembered doing much the same thing in Florida, the desolation and excitement of trying to get a glimpse of something illicit and queer—and I felt an overwhelming sense of tenderness toward my younger self. The epigraph and, to some extent, formal structure of the poem come from Gunn's ‘Talbot Road.’”
—Randall Mann

Florida Again

                              I forgave myself for having had a youth.
					            —Thom Gunn

At the Fashion
Square mall,
of Waldenbooks,

I saw my younger self
the magazine rack.
Ripping out pages

of Blueboy,
tucking them 
in a Trapper

Turn back.
His eyes met mine,
and brittle,

a form
of gratitude
that a man
kept his stare.

Any man.
I half-smiled
some admission,
and though

he couldn’t
see it coming,
I excused him
his acid jeans;

two Swatch
two guards.
He, I,

must have been
sex was “safer”

on the mall
men’s room stall;

of saxophone
and PSAs.
did I

learn how to live
in 1991?

Spanish moss
I forgive him.

Copyright © 2018 by Randall Mann. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 1, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Randall Mann. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 1, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Randall Mann

Randall Mann

Randall Mann is the author of Proprietary (Persea Books, 2017) and Straight Razor (Persea Books, 2013). 

by this poet


It’s silly to think
fourteen years ago
I turned thirty.

How I made it that far
I’ll never know.
In this city of hills,

if there was a hill
I was over it. Then.
(In queer years,

are more than.)
Soon it will be fifteen

since the day I turned thirty


Out of the fog comes a little white bus.
It ferries us south to the technical mouth
of the bay. This is biopharma, Double Helix Way.

In the gleaming canteen, mugs have been
dutifully stacked for our dismantling,
a form of punishment.

Executives take the same elevator as I.

Jealousy.  Whispered weather reports.
The lure of the land so strong it prompts
gossip: we chatter like small birds
at the edge of the ocean gray, foaming.

Now sand under sand hides
the buried world, the one in which our fathers failed,
the palm frond a dangerous truth
they once believed, and touched.  Bloodied