for sean

byDeepAsleep©

this poem is about a faggot.

you can see it in the way that
he arranges himself
under the spotlights -
even empty hands hold signs
if you're looking with
the right kind of eyes.

he carries his sexuality
between his elbows and his shoulders,
arms cocked back like self-
consciousness would look
on a straight boy. with his
hands folded across his stomach
he is just uncertain enough
to be mistaken for feminine.
his long hair curls
just so
in front of his ears and he is
just tragic enough to get inside my head
just pretty enough (like Jim Carroll on
a wet new york night)
& he falls apart with such grace,
wants "you are pretty" to rhyme with
"i love you" so bad that i think,
"i could never let the pieces
of me rocket for the bottom,
never make such accidental,
hip-shot beauty look so easy."

he bums a cigarette from me,
on the walk to his ride, complaining that
it's a menthol, but smoking it, anyway
and i want to tell him,
stop him with my fingertips on his knuckles
as he reaches for my lighter, say
"i am not a gay boy, telling you you're pretty,
but i am a boy
and you are beautiful.
keep my three dollars,
i don't want your chapbook,
i'll remember the poetry of your shoulders forever.
none of you was afraid up there,
not like i am now."

but we didn't talk much beyond me telling you
how wonderfully you performed -
speaking as gently as i know how,
with my focus locked on your nose,
because your eyes scared me, too -
so i never told you,
"i've been called a fag more times than i
can count, mostly for not being afraid
to say anything
to anyone
and i wear my self
across my back, not in the crooks of my elbows,
or at least i think i do -
and maybe that's enough; to grin a little
at the pointless names that people call out
with tongues like rags in their mouths,
dripping worse than mundane poison, worse than
acid, spraying their ideas about what's what
and where it's at like any of us would
let the cold paint of bitter bullshit mark up
the signs we carry
though, they make us feel dirty
and that is worse, sometimes,
than killing us." but
if harsh and angry tongues can't color you
differently, then my stupid mouth won't matter,
either - and i'd just be one more boy saying the same things, anyway, so i was too scared to say,

"i am not a gay boy -
but one fag to another -
i'll love you better because i will never
use three words to get inside your pants, i'll
just say it because it's real and
i am not afraid."

but i was,
and i am,
& i'm sorry.

Courtesy of Reluctance Press, copyright 2006

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