the long place

poetry by Adrian Belmes

the long place

you’re watching them,

performing sign language on a motorcycle at a stoplight in a town you used to live in,

outside a place you thought had closed but isn’t,

feeling alone because people date here and you just walked in to order

ice cream that once made you feel good but not now, perhaps not anymore,


repeating, “the bottom of the bender

the bottom of the bender

the bottom of


you found guidance in a netflix special the night before you came;

you don’t remember what it’s like not to be sad.

for once, you recognize you’re grieving


friends who text friends when you’re crying about leaving

still other friends who will someday leave too

certain of direction but unwilling to move,

thinking of a song you first heard a friend you don’t see anymore sing

and you cry every time that you’ve heard it since;

the you at the end is the you that’s the happier you.


they’re saving a seat at the table for you.

they’re saving a seat at the table.


they’re putting their palms out.

they’re leaving two fingers curled, splaying the rest.

they’re putting their foreheads together, helmet to helmet.

you are still watching, the light is still red.


when it changes, they move.

you’re not crying, you’re not going to cry.

the ice cream has melted.

you’re choosing not to drink.


Adrian Belmes

Adrian Belmes is a trans, gay, Jewish Ukrainian poet and book artist residing currently in San Diego. He is a senior editor for Fiction International, editor in chief of Badlung Press, and vice president of State Zine Collective. He has been previously published in SOFT CARTEL, Philosophical Idiot, X-R-A-Y, and elsewhere. You can find him at or @adrian_belmes