Two Girls in West Philly Spray Their Hair into Beehives

They are the summer’s buzz and the chill

of cold forties pressed to the sweaty

crooks of their knees, pretty as a pair

of hip-hop princesses dressed up in thrift shop

finery. Tonight they are golden, all honey

and shiver, and sweet clover perfume

as the moon peeks out. Honeysuckle

and lavender, clever and bawdy,

they’re here to kick the door in

to the after party. Their lips are glossed,

aglow like lightning bugs, their hair

is teased as high as the rafters. They’re

ready for business if that business

is pleasure. Tonight they’re the girls

every man here is after. They’ve unlocked

the laughter from their private

honeycombs, sugared old hurts

till they taste like Alizé. They sparkle,

they shimmer; friends find them

unfamiliar; they dance with each other,

push drunk men out of the way. Tonight

someone’s tagging the overpass again;

someone’s got hotdogs sizzling on a grill.

Someone’s spilling cheap gossip

that stings like 80 proof. None of it matters

to these two kissing girls.


Kelly McQuain’s chapbook, Velvet Rodeo, was recently chosen by poet C. Dale Young for BLOOM magazine’s poetry prize. McQuain’s writing has appeared in such venues as Painted Bride Quarterly, Kestrel, The Pinch, Assaracus, The Harrington Gay Men’s Fiction Quarterly, and American Writing, as well as in numerous anthologies, including Best American Erotica, Men on Men, Between: New Gay Poetry, Drawn to Marvel: Poems from the Comic Books, The Queer South and Skin & Ink. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best New Poets, and Best of the Net; among his writing awards are two fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. His book reviews and essays on city life