gallery of heartthrobs by Michael Russell

Poem title: gallery of heartthrobs Poet name: Michael Russell Poem: Instagram’s algorithm unearths four versions of the same man shirtless in grey joggers their white skins spray tanned a circus of lions caged in the carnival window of my cellphone handheld & deep fried to perfection Ken dolls Barbie’s army of glistening henchmen each their own variation Artisan Ken trims his chest hair into a high-end handwoven carpet Garden-With-Me-Ken comes with a hoe & detachable hose Perma-Flex Ken is the salted caramel of a good gym session homegrown & certified organic Nature Party Ken with his blackout sunglasses & squashed beer cans reminds me of my father young shirtless drunk smiling Siri how many times must i tap my screen before it breaks into a throbbing heart that pumps blood into my father? all that’s left are questions an assumption of ashes dirt bones this picture held under my index finger half naked & begging to be liked End of poem. Credits and bio: Copyright © Michael Russell Contemporary Verse 2 (Vol. 44, Issue No. 3, Winter 2022 - the Daddy Issue) Michael Russell (he/they) is the author of chapbook Grindr Opera (Frog Hollow Press). He’s queer, has BPD, Bipolar Disorder and way too much anxiety. Their work has appeared in Arc Poetry Magazine, Contemporary Verse 2, SICK Magazine among other places. He lives in Toronto and thinks you’re fantabulous. Insta: @michael.russell.poet