Literary Magazine

The House of Men | Stewart Shaw

There is no touching in the house of men just wrestling moves power take downs no

Touching, no removing of veils to tenderness

I am embattled, trained in the ways of slipping touch

trained by a skilled general in the war against gentle stroke and caress and of binding the

wound before the cut the tongue and the eye and the heart can lie deceive the senses into



they are real, how many times has he said I love you just to disappear

how many how many heartfelt gestures turned to dust after midnight ardor
this house of men is bankrupt

has no doors or windows we
all sleep

on barren floors face to back to back to enslaved to dreams of doing as signs of love doing

as gift more powerful than the touch that seeps through bone to spirit to DNA healing lineage

the house of men sits in moonlight full of praying hands coated with grief praying

to become doctors fakirs psychic healers


the house of men is filled with boys


with babble the talking outside of the lines of hollow speech

the house has age but no wisdom, age but no men inside

always morning never afternoon or night just men begetting boy begetting boy begetting men

Shaw is a Librarian for an urban West Coast public library. He has traveled internationally attending writing conferences in various African nations. His poems have been published in Black Arts Quarterly, Temenos Literary Journal, The Missing Slate, upcoming in the African American Review as well as a short story in Mighty Real: An Anthology of African American Same Gender Loving Writing. He is a Cave Canem Poetry Fellow.