"They, A New Them"
They told me they identified as they right off.
They were so pretty though. I blundered.
Whenever I saw them thereafter they reminded me
of lyrics I’d been singing wrong, how in my mind
the wrong lyrics remained the original lyrics
even as I sang the right lyrics. A song forgives.
With all the willpower of an egg timer I did little more
than endure the "she-he-it-haha" days of my own youth, knowing
only what I could never be yet refused to forfeit and
a backyard fence—tall, tight. Why I wince at their outspokenism?
their crotchless theory? wagging that middle finger at
and at— So serious their youth, so radiant.
A. Loudermilk's book Strange Valentine won the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award, with individual poems in Cream City Review, Gargoyle, Smartish Pace, and Tin House—dating back to the 1990s when Mark Doty introduced him as a new voice in The James White Review.