“No names,” you told me,
tenderly tracing your edge down my cheek,
daring a rebuttal. It dripped with excitement
and its cool wetness tingled on my skin, turning
every stagnant thing inside me soft and flowing.
Your love was enlightening in its pain
as you tugged at the edges of my self.
I breathed deeply and tried not to flinch
under your gentle pin pricks and barbs,
trusting the sting to be sweet,
my heart full at attention.
“Don’t use my name,” you asked,
and called me a dream,
unleashing me in a fantasy
detached from your insults
and fear of abandon.
“No names,” I agreed,
and severed my ties to the inexorable truth
that this fetish cut both ways.
I gave permission, and exchanged my love
for your lazy sentimentality. I thanked you,
rubbing my knees raw in pursuit of your heels.
And when you snarled that I wasn’t fast enough
I scurried on gravel and grass
until their sharpness caked my tattered skin.
“Don’t use my name,” you barked,
snapping shut clamps and gags,
zipping up the sopping airless hood.
I gasped and mouthed a vow
in sweat-soaked darkness as you pinned me
down and butterflied my body
to begin your gorgeous work.
No need for names when
I’m spoiled with the signatures of your craft.
You bruised with kisses on my neck
my shoulders, my cheek, my chest,
anywhere but my lips.
You crisscrossed my ribs with tenterhooks,
and peeled back defences in one swift rip.
I stifled a sob in hope that
this cruelty was care, and my submission
would rouse you from a sanguineous fugue.
“Don’t use my name,” you growled
through gritted teeth when I succumbed
to my body, alive with fire,
and finally cried out –
as if my scream could spell an acrostic,
a grievous lament,
a simple cypher leading everyone
to what you’d done.
“Don’t use my name,” you whispered,
a selfish remedy between parting lovers.
I smelled the salty blood on your breath
and it made me miss
the person I was who took it all –
the incisive looks and backhanded words
you were always willing to give.
And, with every lash of silence
between our last farewell and now,
the strictures of your love tear away.
I draw breath, my throat cracked and weeping.
The ache and shame of what we did burns
in every muscle from my eyes to
the toes that miss yours.
I say your name, and
the sound dies on empty walls and deaf sheets.
There are no bystanders or ransom
for a willing victim of love.
Themo H Peel is a writer and illustrator based in Edinburgh Scotland. He has published two young adult science fiction novels, and has poetry published in Arlington Literary Journal, The Dillydoun Review and Beyond Queer Words. His most recent chapbook, MEN, explores the influence that masculinity and relationships with other men have on the formation of identity for queer men. He holds a BA in Fine Art from Yale University and an MSc in Creative Writing from Edinburgh University.