First Kiss by Joseph Anthony

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy


some of us had it before algebra
or after history class.
beneath the bleachers, hidden
from the jocks having football practice.

or in the locker room after football practice
after our teammates had gone home.

some of us had it with girls that would
later hate us
and ruin our lives to make themselves feel better.

we had it with boys that would break our hearts
or that we would go on to love forever.
with faces that have grown fuzzy
and ones that we will never forget.

we had them with friends that were
light-years ahead of their time,
that did it to help us when no one else would.
or because they were curious
or because they fucking felt like it and had
nothing better to do.

we had it in the park surrounded by ducks
in the back of a car, our faces lit by white streetlamps
that flickered when our lips touched.

each one of us remembers that
~ hesitation ~

before we leaned in, knowing that this was what we had always wanted
since before we could remember.
wondering if it would change what we thought we knew
about ourselves.

we were surprised by the way his stubble felt on our cheeks
and how soft his lips were.
surprised by the way the world didn’t end afterward
and how for the first time,

              we felt alive.


Photo of Joseph Anthony

Photo of Joseph Anthony

Joseph Anthony attended Rutgers University where he graduated in May of 2012 with a double major in English & Psychology. His first book, An Uneaten Breakfast: Collected Stories and Poems, was published by Diamond Mill Press in January of 2012. His first novel, The Alphabet of Dating, was published in August, 2015. Anthony is currently working on a gay-themed poetry collection, forthcoming in the summer of 2016, and a book of short stories forthcoming in the fall of 2016. He lives in New Jersey where he works with first and second grade autistic students.

Additional Publication Credits:

  • "here's to you," "love is not oil," "fight for you," "magic pill," "outlaws," and "we were born" (poems) Eleventh Transmission, forthcoming, winter 2017
  • "Echoes of Rubble" (story), Five 2 One, November, 2016.
  • "I Really Wish You Weren't" (story), Scarlet Leaf Review, September, 2016
  • “Oliver” (story), Samsara Literary Magazine, summer 2016
  • “epiphany” (poem), The Corner Club Press, June, 2016
  • “big gay lottery” (poem), Lavender Review issue 13, June, 2016
  • "republicans and democrats" (poem) Winner of the Rock the Chair Challeng, Yellow Chair Review, April 2016.
  • “Phantom” (poem), Danse Macabre, April 2015
  • “May They Smile” (poem), Objet d’Art, April 2011

Contact Joseph Anthony here or visiting his website.