There’s Such a Thing as a Happy Ending

“Dry Creek Road,” “Is There Such a Thing?” and “Girly Noises,” three poems by Liam O’Brien

There’s Such a Thing as a Happy Ending

If you enjoy reading Electric Literature, join our mailing list! We’ll send you the best of EL each week, and you’ll be the first to know about upcoming submissions periods and virtual events.

Dry Creek Road

A gay pastoral after Brother Lawrence

The firepit past midnight spat nails
and its heat hammered over us — each got
a big bronze shield. We were royal,
or said so. Sequin and chain. Line of beads
weighty on my white gauze front. I sat
ghostly for hours beside a nodding boy
while others bobbed and left — the lifting
of a shield in layers, flaking and resettling.

Were they bronze feathers? Hot and bright.
Above of course the sky was stamping silver
coin after coin, to fall in the cool wet woods —
how do I sit so long?

Holding the threads
between us — those were gold. I possess God
in as great measure as if I were on my knees.

Is There Such A Thing?

Well, Helen. Watered
the garden after dark: avoided

watering rabbits & fireflies. All running
around in a sweet cool

evening, getting too excited.
Me too. Sip wine: how fast

it goes, one glass. Soles
dirty, atrocious, there in the bedroom

mirror. But somebody likes everything.
Get a massage, Dan said to Johnny

this afternoon. I can’t, he said, I have
a problem with people touching me.

Then I get hard. There’s such a thing,
I said, as a happy ending. He was

delighted. They always think
I’m joking. No one’s joking! Always.

Brought home lots of boxes: iceberg,
romaine, ciabatta, lemon. Next move, Helen,

another happy ending? Second heaven?

Girly Noises

You made a cake with yeast
and a sugar crust:
brushed butter over the top
and baked it, St. Valentine’s day.

We got home too late
for more than a slice
so I ate it for breakfast,
day after. I never made

better pastry. Luxury,
kindness. Dwarf iris, dog violet
now drenched or frosted
on lawns all over. What’s the truest?

What’s truer? Storms outside
on my dream roof, red tin.
Say I reached the horizon
of happiness: my hedonometer

bounced at its brim and stopped.
Your medallion, aureate
under my clothes. Hollyhocks
all set to explode, and glorious

marigold. Have all my indoors:
this is yours, this is yours.
Medicine, temper, intemperance:
and what do we turn towards?

Houses, houses. Heavens.
One trouble becomes another,
or holds. A returning cold.
Still growing: yet ever

I’ll be the trembler. Be merrier.
The house opens, closes,
keeps roses and oven smells.
It swells: girly noises

I make with your arm around me
in the warm room, loitering:
rising in late light, pearly:
going inside, early.

About the Author

Liam O’Brien grew up on a small island. Recent work can be found in the PBS Newshour, the HIV Here & Now Project, New South, and The Iowa Review. He completed his MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was an Iowa Arts Fellow. He is one of the founding editors of Vetch: A Magazine of Trans Poetry & Poetics.

“Dry Creek Road,” “Is There Such a Thing?” and “Girly Noises” are published here by permission of the author, Liam O’Brien. Copyright © Liam O’Brien 2018. All rights reserved.

More Like This

I’m Not Here, But I’m Not There Either

Akwaeke Emezi’s "The Death of Vivek Oji" presents queerness as a personal, liminal space completely free of heteronormativity

Sep 29 - Apoorva Mittal

7 Queer Romantic Novels

Liz Parker, author of "All Are Welcome," recommends rom-coms that break out of the confines of heteronormativity

Aug 27 - Liz Parker

“Labyrinth” is Another Word for “Bathhouse”

Three recent novels explore the depths and mazes of queer desire

Aug 6 - Adam McGee
Thank You!