“Gay Chicken” by Animashaun Ameen

Animashaun Ameen


for b, y, s, and all the boys who knew me first.

We were nine and eleven with no concrete name
to christen the hunger in our loins. Fire,
then brimstone: wingless birds impatient
to fly the coop. We knew the face of the monster
waiting patiently under our beds. We knew
where to find it—how to feed into its fire
and touch it in all the right places so it would leave
us be when around the girls. We knew the essence
of music—of wrapping our secrets carefully
around our fingers and showing them to no one
but ourselves. We were fourteen, and then sixteen,
and then a little more alive than any of us could handle.
Hushed breaths, then stifled moans. Hungry, and then alive.
We played with the fire to the best of our abilities;
mastered the mechanics of doors and got better
at hiding this secret of ours: We took this hunger
and locked it in—behind the blackboards
at Boys’ Academy. Simpson Street. The dormitory.
The one-room apartment in Ilorin so tiny it nearly spilled
our secrets. But we locked this madness behind
our doors never to be found again. And we lived
because there was nothing else to do. And we lived
because there was nothing else we could have done
with the rest of our lives.

from Rattle #83, Spring 2024


Animashaun Ameen: “I am a queer person who comes from a place that is determined to hunt and hurt people like me, and poetry provides me with the means to touch the faces of other boys like me and share my story with them—letting them know they are seen and are not alone in this long journey to becoming.”

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