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A Curious Game of Flats

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You might spurn the label with every ounce
but you are fooling no one besides yourself.
They all see us swaggering under the stage lights
Two queer fish, Miss Mermaid and her consort.

For even for theater folk, two mashers together…
Not one, but two girls with shorn hair in boaters…
Suddenly, what seemed harmlessly amusing in one
becomes perturbingly obvious in our pairing.

The drunkards of Deacon aren’t the only witnesses.
The glint in Tony’s eye, the purse of Alice’ lips…
the winking ladies, the blush on Walter’s cheek…
You’re so meek and priggish and hushed that I choke
on the word that I know to be true, catching on my tongue.

Toms. Toms! Not a curse, darling, but sheer and utter relief
to have a name for what has remained silently unnamed
to know there are kindred spirits in such fierce dreamings
as our dance of illusions, so brazen on stage, whispering
in the shadows, denying until we could bear it no longer.

Oh Kitty, I would shout your name from every chimney
And buss your cheek and call you mine ‘fore all of London
Yet you cower and tremble at the mere thought of anyone
even suspecting the queer appetites that press you to me
skin to skin, pearl to lips, heart to heart, night after night.