I hold my head up, barely-
with parades in it, it’s heavy.
I look at the world and know
that they’re all looking at me.
I have to be or there wouldn’t
be such a beautiful fucking parade,
At least today they’re looking.
They can’t really ignore the music
and the sweat, and the skin and the feathers.
Some bring their kids,
I automatically make way for strollers.
I notice lots of dogs, some very fancy.
I get tangled, briefly, in a sparkly leash
when a bulldog in a tutu
takes a turn for a terrier.
There are beautiful, beautiful people.
Beauty, I know, a distraction from pain.
Smile, it’s your day!
They smile, on cue-
they really want to mean it.
There are old people- at least fortysomething.
It’s funny, they smile anyway.
Some stand back,
not really there, but they have to be.
And some, I know, are quietly holding
a heavy excuse to beat me with
(they practice on themselves, like I did).
But not today,
Is blue the sky, or the other way round?
Today, it doesn’t matter.
My eyes are clear
my back is straight,
my neck getting stronger
with every passing feathery float.
– D Gregory Smith
So here’s a poem for gay pride month 🙂
( just fyi, I’m straight)
What Lot’s Wife Would Have Said (If She Wasn’t A Pillar of Salt)
Do you remember when we met
in Gomorrah? When you were still beardless,
and I would oil my hair in the lamp light before seeing
you, when we were young, and blushed with youth
like bruised fruit. Did we care then
what our neighbors did
in the dark?
When our first daughter was born
on the River Jordan, when our second
cracked her pink head from my body
like a promise, did we worry
what our friends might be
doing with their tongues?
What new crevices they found
to lick love into or strange flesh
to push pleasure from, when we
called them Sodomites then,
all we meant by it
When the angels told us to run
from the city, I went with you,
but even the angels knew
that women always look back.
Let me describe for you, Lot,
what your city looked like burning
since you never turned around to see it.
Sulfur ran its sticky fingers over the skin
of our countrymen. It smelled like burning hair
and rancid eggs. I watched as our friends pulled
chunks of brimstone from their faces. Is any form
of loving this indecent?
Cover your eyes tight,
husband, until you see stars, convince
yourself you are looking at Heaven.
Because any man weak enough to hide his eyes while his neighbors
are punished for the way they love deserves a vengeful god.
I would say these things to you now, Lot,
but an ocean has dried itself on my tongue.
So instead I will stand here, while my body blows itself
grain by grain back over the Land of Canaan.
I will stand here
and I will watch you
– Karen Finneyfrock
Regret nothing. Not the cruel novels you read
to the end just to find out who killed the cook.
Not the insipid movies that made you cry in the dark,
in spite of your intelligence, your sophistication.
Not the lover you left quivering in a hotel parking lot,
the one you beat to the punchline, the door, or the one
who left you in your red dress and shoes, the ones
that crimped your toes, don’t regret those.
Not the nights you called god names and cursed
your mother, sunk like a dog in the livingroom couch,
chewing your nails and crushed by loneliness.
You were meant to inhale those smoky nights
over a bottle of flat beer, to sweep stuck onion rings
across the dirty restaurant floor, to wear the frayed
coat with its loose buttons, its pockets full of struck matches.
You’ve walked those streets a thousand times and still
you end up here. Regret none of it, not one
of the wasted days you wanted to know nothing,
when the lights from the carnival rides
were the only stars you believed in, loving them
for their uselessness, not wanting to be saved.
You’ve traveled this far on the back of every mistake,
ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house
after the TV set has been pitched out the upstairs
window. Harmless as a broken ax. Emptied
of expectation. Relax. Don’t bother remembering
any of it. Let’s stop here, under the lit sign
on the corner, and watch all the people walk by.
– Dorianne Laux
so I missed a day real life is hard.
This poem perfectly captures the belief that there is nothing but the present, there’s no point crying over the past and worrying about the future. All we have is this moment and we should be grateful for it.
Tell me about the dream where we pull the bodies out of the lake
and dress them in warm clothes again.
How it was late, and no one could sleep, the horses running
until they forget that they are horses.
It’s not like a tree where the roots have to end somewhere,
it’s more like a song on a policeman’s radio,
how we rolled up the carpet so we could dance, and the days
were bright red, and every time we kissed there was another apple
to slice into pieces.
Look at the light through the windowpane. That means it’s noon, that means
Tell me how all this, and love too, will ruin us.
These, our bodies, possessed by light.
Tell me we’ll never get used to it.
Unfortunately I couldn’t get the amazing format of the poem 😦
Richard Siken is one of my favorite poets for the harsh beauty of his poems, the way their energy feels like sitting in a car going full-speed off a cliff.
Every poem has this feeling of impending doom and this desperate apocalyptic need, a certain recklessness and chaos. Simply put, his poems break my heart.
Tell me, the poet says, the lie I need to feel safe, and tell me in your own voice, so I believe you. One more tale to stay alive.
-Crush, Foreword by Louise Gluck
I can imagine hating you, hating the tilt of your eyebrows the curve of your smile. I can imagine hating the sharpness of your teeth like knives, like flint. I could hate you for being insecure, for being scared and for cowering in the dark while I fought the shadows for you. For you, while you were lost in yourself like a ghost. You are the same and I could hate you for it. I could hate you the way the rescued can hate their saviours, the way a creator hates his creations. I could hate you with a passion so fierce it would seem like love. I could tear you apart and tell you I love you while I do it. You would taste blood on my lips as I kissed you and you would ask Why? Why? and I'd reply Because. Because love can be fire and claws and hunger, Because it can be a forest fire and a hurricane all rolled into one, Because it can destroy you and build you back up from the ashes again and again and again. In the end, love is a lot like hate. So yes, I could hate you and yet...