I don’t focus much on poetry these days, but I did have a few pieces published in Vice Magazine back in the mid-90’s. That wasn’t the Vice Magazine of today, but a NYC free gay bar rag that tried to aspire to something more cultural than Next or HX by featuring poetry and art photography.
Tasteful nudes, of course.
There was even a centerfold.
I still have some of them stored somewhere.
But I digress: they published a few of my poems. One day I’ll post them.
This piece was originally written for a class at The Writer’s Studio in the Fall of 2011. I was frustrated with the assignment and with what I had come up with. I thought it was crap and made some disparaging remarks about it before choosing a classmate to read it aloud. And as the words hit the air, I started to realize that it was really moving. And important. And it was really effecting the others in the room. People got a little verklempt. And there was silence when it was over. And then a classmate spoke up and said, “I hate you. If that’s what you come up with when you’re not feeling the assignment. I really hate you.”
The lesson I learned: just as you should never apologize before an audition (regardless of any ailments or trauma in your life), do not discredit your own work before presenting it.
So here it is, posted without further comment…
(I did not take these pics, btw)
Pride Parade, 2011
The parade of pride and fabulousity follows the purple stripe downtown –
guiding the way to gay ground zero: Christopher Street,
where it reaches its zenith, then dissipates into the side streets and alleys.
The air is electric – more than any celebration in recent memory.
The mood victorious as the decision was passed down late last night:
We can get married in New York today.
Mylar streamers and cardboard cutouts adorn the floats – trailers and pickup trucks
glittered up like drag queens for a day – back to work tomorrow, like the rest of us.
An explosion of g-strings and dykes on bikes and topless transgenders
and she was a he and that one I’m not sure – all making their way down 5th Avenue
to the anthemic disco beat of I Was Born This Way.
On toes, I am balanced on a square inch of stoop at Barrow Street –
holding on to the railing, vying for a better view.
Next to me babies in rainbow bibs and bandanas
clap and giggle in the arms of their two mommies.
Police line the barricades with bemused smiles of “tolerance” –
steps away from Stonewall, and the confrontation that started it all-
their opinions now suppressed and stored for a private audience at a later time.
A weary drag queen sits on the curb, shoes in hand, wilting in the summer heat.
From windows and rooftops, cheering crowds toast
with their brunch Bellinis and Bloody Marys.
On a 5th floor perch at the corner of Bleecker, a man with confetti blesses the crowd below.
We walk this parade route, sharing sidewalks with ghosts, both living and dead:
There are no monuments to that lost generation of artists.
The survivors, no longer emaciated – saved by their cocktails.
These muscled torsos on spindly legs walk with the gait of wounded birds.
Their weary eyes and sunken cheeks tell the history more freely than their mouths.
We forget what it was like to be so scared.
Making our way down Christopher, herded like cattle to the street fair on Hudson.
Promotional tents for film and TV; samples of snacks and fruity drinks –
with acceptance comes the term “marketable demographic” as the former pariahs have
deep pockets and money to burn.
Booths for dating services, pet care and enterprising wedding planners – a first!
A Wheel of Fortune carnival game: step right up and win some porn!
Stickers and posters advertise the Real Housewives of No Place Real.
Underwear-clad go-go boys flirt as they pass out condoms and lube.
Young lovers embrace – that overwhelming first love. Out in the open for all to see.
Too young to have known the fear, the loss, the magnitude of the shame.
Celebrating side by side with those old enough to remember
when the bullied and beaten didn’t ask why, and didn’t tell.
They took what was given – they were told they deserved it.
With words and in silence in one hundred different ways.
Now we know better.
And the world is not perfect on this day,
but we are closer now than we have ever been before.