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Conversation with a bigot

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She’s got red-tights on and she’s got her nose in a book. It’s pretty a-typical.

The Bigot watches her drink her hot chocolate (with Almond milk, hold the whip cream, nix the vanilla) until she picked up her copy of SMITTEN this is what love looks like / poetry by women for women.

The Bigot made clucking sounds as he reads from the table over, the front cover of the poetry anthology written by 120 lesbian and bi poets and artists and eventually, unable to restrain himself, the bigot came over to her table (uninvited, as bigots usually are).

“Young Lady. Do you realize homosexuality is a crime against humanity?” He proffers in the same calm tone he might have asked; “Do you really like Hot Chocolate on a 80 degree day?”

She might be a little vain and a little shy. She might not like putting her face in the limelight but she’s met enough people like The Bigot to know how to respond. “Says who?” (She wanted to say a great deal of other possible replies, but holds her relatively well mannered tongue).

“Says GOD” said The Bigot.

“Have you spoken to Him lately?”

“I speak to Him every day.” (a self-satisfied grin)

“He makes that much time for you?” (raised eyebrows)

“He does.”

“Well that’s good then. I’m glad you have someone to talk to.”

“He would talk to you too you know. If you weren’t hurting him.”

“I’m hurting God?”

“All Queers hurt God. You go against the natural order of the world. God wants us to procreate and have families, God wants us to be happy. No homosexual is happy.”

“I think 120 poets might disagree with you here.” (points to book, which looks pretty happy next to a half-finished hot chocolate).

“They’re lost souls.”

“Lost from whom?”

“Lost from God. Shut out from God because of their behavior. Their choices.”

God doesn’t talk to them because they’re gay?”

“He wants us to love one another but obey the natural laws. Homosexuality is not a natural law.”

(thinks of stories of gay penguins or cheap shots like ‘oh but it feels so good’ and then decides it’s Just. Not. Worth. It.)

“Well you are entitled to your opinion (thinks; although I’d rather not hear it) Sir”

“You should be ashamed of yourself.” (I guess he’s not getting the reaction he wanted, wonders what reaction he expected?)

“I am not sure you can speak FOR God Sir.”

“That’s right you can’t.” – Young man, green waistcoat, brown eyes, standing to the right of The Bigot.

“This is between myself and the young lady” The Bigot is not pleased at the interloper’s presence.

“Not as long as it’s about hate it isn’t”

“You one of those fag men then? Standing up for bestiality and abomination then?”

“What if I were?”

“Then you Sir, would be a sinner.”

“Says you.”

“Says God.” (he sounds awfully sure)

“I don’t hear Him saying that.”

“He wouldn’t make himself known to you, if you were sinning Son.”

“I’d have thought that’s EXACTLY when he’d make himself known. After all why would He talk to YOU if you have all the answers? Wouldn’t He talk to the Sinner most of all?”

“Do you KNOW your Bible Son?”

“I know THE Bible Sir. I know the Koran too. And the Talmud. I try to stay up-to-date with things of importance. To avoid being a bigot.”

“You calling me a bigot son?”

“I’m saying the chances are it’s not God talking to you Sir, it’s your own fear and hate. I’m saying that if God exists He wouldn’t hate someone for being born unable to love someone of the opposite gender.”

“You’re just making excuses for criminal acts son. God would be disgusted at the lot of you.”

“Including the 120 poets in SMITTEN Sir?” I interrupt (pointing to the book, now next to a 3/4 empty cup of Hot Chocolate, I managed to get a few sips in).

“All of darnation if you intend on spreading that FILTH.”

I think of the words. FILTH. CRIME. HATE. CONDEMNATION. DISGUST. I remember a conversation I had with my grandmother who had unexpectedly converted to Mormonism a few years prior to her death.

“Grandma, I think I like girls.”

“Sure you do sweetheart.”

“No. I mean I really like girls.”

“We all like girls sweetheart.” (we DO?)

“I like girls in the way you like boys.”

A HIDEOUS SILENCE

A BOOK PLACED NEXT TO MY BED THAT EVENING, ENTITLED: Why Homosexuality is a Sin.

NOTHING ELSE EVER SAID.

I think of all the kids who had these and worse experiences. Of the kids who were kicked out of home. Of the kids like me who grew up to lose jobs, lose friends, struggle to fit in. I think of the hate that became okay to spout without any basis and without any defense. I think of the Supreme Court hearing the case right now about Discrimination in the Workplace and whether it should be legal for a person to be fired based upon their ‘sexual preference’. I think how it’s nearly 2020 and we’re STILL asking questions like that. I think of how I made the point to a friend of mine about how if it is wrong to stop people of different races from marrying, the same argument can be made against firing someone because of something they are born with. I remember my friend saying it’s not the same thing. it doesn’t say in the Bible that people of color marrying people of another race is wrong, but it does say homosexuality is wrong. I think of how that’s not exactly true and without being pedantic none of us really know the background of Sodom & Gomorrah but it’s a heck of a lot more complicated than ancient homophobia. I think of how women who menstruate aren’t forced to do so outside of city walls and how everyone eats shell fish but somehow that’s okay. How we pick and choose our hate. How we still as gays, have a long way to go and being only 2/3 percent of the world this will likely always be the case.

The Bigot has moved off. He was talking to the brown eyed man but I had tuned them out. Thinking instead of how maybe 20 years ago I wouldn’t have read a gay book in public I would have been too afraid. How there were still reasons to be afraid but I’d be dammed if I stopped now. Now I’d create the damn books myself if I had to!

The brown eyed man comes back to my table. He smiles a warm smile and says; “I’m sorry about that. I’m really sorry about that. I couldn’t keep quiet when I heard what he was saying to you.”

I smile and thank him quietly. What I really want to say is; Thank you for standing up for me. For all of us. Because so often people don’t. They don’t think it’s necessary. They don’t think it matters. They don’t think it affects us. Or that we feel any less safe than anyone else. Just like a black man walking down the road with a hoodie on. A gay may fear being raped or beaten for kissing someone they love in public. It still happens. IT STILL HAPPENS.

“I used to be a homophobe.” The brown eyed man explains. “I’m sorry but I did.” He sighs. “Until my daughter came out. And then I had to re-think everything. At first I was angry, disappointed, confused. Now I understand much better. I try to speak out for her. I want to be part of the change.”

I give him my copy of SMITTEN and I say; “This is a present for your daughter.”

“That’s terrific! But this is your only copy? You haven’t finished it yet?”

“I’m the editor of this book. I was re-reading it because it brings me so much joy. I’d be honored for your daughter to have a copy.”

I leave. It’s time to get back to work. The trees are beginning to look bare and the wind is picking up. My cup is still 3/4 empty and now it’s cold. But I feel really, really warm inside.

 

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poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Royal Jelly

honeycomb close up detail honey bee

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Our era

The anthropocene

Age of humans

Extinction soars overhead

We sit in chairs facing cocktails

Rising CO2 levels

Habitat destruction

We witness the 6th Extinction

Caused by a single species

Resetting the evolutional clock

And Mormons still ask us to have more children

Abortion a sin, the value of humanity

What’s the price of Extinction?

Are we value or flotsam

Bee or rat? Vector or Hunter?

Tearing down clean air

Adapting to plastic, drowning in toxic denial

We don’t need more of us

Maybe new species afterwards will

Enjoy deep time without

Devouring all the honey

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Uncategorized

Live again

The day I stopped feeling

It wasn’t a tap turned all the way to halt any drip

or wet socks left on radiator until cardboard stiff

through muslin sheet I felt a wistfulness

like poignant ending of a film

or sad story of someone else’s life

but you did not feel part of me anymore

when I touched your hand, it was flesh and blood

not a girl I was connected to

neither stranger, but some

distance stood solid like forging tree limbs

seeking electric charge from rain after storm has passed

I had moved beyond you without

marking the spot, I put down my heartache

this is surely the most human thing about us

our ability to keep going, not fall down and wither

knowing we are finite and fallen

watch a child lose a friend on Friday

gain another come Monday

grief is a litmus test

a sorrow we shrug on and eventually off

I convinced myself of devastation

when Tuesday brings change even as we don’t seek

it comes drawing out like elongated stretch

I never thought

I’d feel nothing

looking into your eyes

but you closed yourself off

In time, I began to look away

Into the distance

where the unknown glistened

like a mirage

of things bidden

by places within us

that say

O please

live again

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life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

She is the only one

Dear World

these days you seem to have structured yourself around

those who hate anyone who is not heterosexual

and all the rest; the pansexual, extensions, reinvention

new words for the same brand of suffering

when I was younger there was only Bi and it was a dirty word among lesbians

(though behind our scowl we may have fancied the more Bi of the group)

it was, you see, just self-preservation

hard enough to compete with one gender, let alone two

can’t stand up and fist fight a man for you

though if it were a war of words … mmmm

I devoted myself to the shedding of labels

they don’t describe a beating heart

but when prejudice comes knocking, you realize how

there is safety in numbers

I joined my lesbian sisters

though they did not welcome me

I did not act the Femme

I did not look the Butch

I liked men too much, wasn’t adequate bra burning feminist enough

though i’d go to the ends of the earth to defend us

for there is a special hell reserved for women who do not defend women

or those who feel it’s a meat market and they’ve got the biggest cleaver

Type A Personality who leave the quieter woman to the side

learning their dismissive strategies from the history of men

oh how cruel we can be to each other in pursuit of

a tiny fraction of nothing important

the person I take to bed doesn’t possess a penis and that’s just how it is

love between women isn’t about sex it’s something

in the grey matter that turns to starlight

when it became known I was gay

the bisexuals came to town

in a little red wagon

by then I’d decided I couldn’t condemn them

for more the merrier isn’t a crime

though I was not of their ilk

I was born in a violet hour and

given second sight to see a woman’s heart

it was unnatural to me to imagine loving a man

such things are part of who we are

as a tree is a tree and a river a river

still they call and ask

would you like to play with me?

when my husband is at work

and I wonder, do some hard-luck girls say yes?

do they ask the lesbians, figuring her vulnerable to

their beauty?

it is true, I don’t see much I like, in our small lesbian community

too many masks, unhealthy stereotypes in place of reality

most of the time I am condemned for not being lesbian ‘enough’

ultimately, labels are ridiculous

we’re all just trying to meet the one (or the two, or the four, or …)

when I met her, I saw instantly

she was my mauve butterfly

waiting for me to land beside her all along

I would not share

I would not replace

she is the only one

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life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Low Flame

Sisters+-+SliderYou damned me with your penchant for

betrayal

only the smooth hollow of a quiet buttoned up body

resting now, untouched chalk and mortar

lain still so long, breath has left

I did not want to wake up

get dressed

pretend to function at the end of tugging string

there was a place in my head that dissolved living

a spindle that gathered all my yarn and knitted something else

not me

back into a shape I did not recognize

she went on without

this clockwork version of myself

whilst I followed the bath water down the drain

hearing your serpentine taunt

what was it you said?

you would feed me?

I don’t need food

I don’t need air

I am existing on memories

of being fearless and before erosion

the wonderlust of the young and close to flame

possessing no sticky cleavage, no rub of thigh

or need to sup

the fealty of those who have not yet

watched their bones dissolve into chalk

this theatre is cold

like love when it is left

on a low flame

catching and diminishing

as most will rest

and one dances

mad arms flung

like sticks of liquorice

beneath restraint

have you ever known what someone was like?

but somewhere along the journey, without any good reason, forgotten

gone on forgetting until all the things they are capable of

are lost and you see them with fresh eyes

just as wrecked and pulled to pieces the next time, they tear your fucking heart out

is that forgiveness God? When you forgive and you don’t forget?

except the very act of forgiving means you do forget

the extremity of pain and its after effects

how can you walk next to someone capable of pinching off

all their emotions as if you were snuff

turning out the light on you

just. like. that.

harm stains the mattress a livid hue

as if I were given a blood transfusion of pain

tell me please

who do I have to hurt to stop?

myself, or all the years

I wasn’t myself?

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life, poetry, prosetry

Glinting yet unswept

jump

you and I

were never meant to age

or get sick

or fall apart like a moth will when you

touch its wings, rub off the magic

you and I

were supposed sway in the assurance

of that hot gaze we both had

it was as if the world were stopped

on its axil and only we two remained

entwined around the other like long grown ivy

from the first moment it was that way

affixed by some kind of telepathy where

even as the storm attempted to separate

we always came back

like magnets repelled and attracted

will find their centering

when I looked up

you were my first thought

in every aspect of life

I lived with you

to imagine this has shattered like a glass

unable to be mended, leaves behind shards of itself

glinting yet unswept

to prick the foot of unsteady walker

a reminder of what is fractured

what cannot be saved

I never thought it possible, to rinse you from my heart

or that I could truly exist without you

hinging my world

but there are some violences

there are some moments too ruined

and my shame in not knowing earlier

how long you had given me up

that undo even the strongest bond

so now, when I feel alone

I do not find myself yearning for you

when I wish to be touched

it is not you I imagine or want

when I cry over us

it is not with a full heart

or even bitterness

but something cold and twisted

that cannot quite remember feeling

it has done the unimaginable

and stopped calling out for you

(One Promise

when you had spent

eight life times and

nine nights

ten turns of moon

one promise

convincing me I was

yours

to want to throw myself

off the bridge we often walked

when your eyes told me

you had given up

was it presumptuous

when you had spent

all my life and half of yours

teaching me love

and its poetry

only to decide when something died

and kill it

headless and bleeding

there in the street

where pointing

people gaped and wondered

who is that girl

climbing the rail?

where is she going?

there she falls)

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poetry

the safety of virgins

I don’t know if Daria Argento is guilty of sleeping with an underage boy

whether it was against his will, statutory rape

or both

but I know it is sad when a #metoo movement spokesperson lets everyone down

though is it the way of fallen heroes in this country, to redeem themselves

there is a hypocracy to thinking

if a man has sex

it can’t be against his will

I know that’s not true

my first boyfriend told me

a girl who sat on a window ledge

made him in her bed

and he felt fallow and diseased

as she at 22 and he 14, rode together

not long afterward

he turned Goth and slit his wrists

the bitchy girls at school taunted him

with cat-calls of ‘you cut the wrong direction fuck head’

and I dated him out of empathy or sympathy

or some kind of thy

because I couldn’t imagine wanting to die and being derided for my failure to succeed

I could feel the welt of scar tissue on his boy wrists

also I know

there is something safe

about virgin men

I liked the comfort of

being the first and not a bed notch

it occurred to me later

I may not have been searching for virgins

but a different gender altogether

though at the time it was a divided world

of normal and dykes, fags and queers

I did not fit into any category

so I played with boys who were untouched and so damn grateful

that’s where I learned what I like

is to be needed

even if the need

is fleeting and superficial

that was better than being

a girl shoved aside for the next

there is something grateful and tender

about boys who lose their virginity

and become men in your arms

I liked how they didn’t carry disease or pre conceptions

I liked how I knew I wouldn’t be their last

free to lend them the tenderness of one night

before pretending with day

nothing had transpired

we seek to be whole and inviolate

we want love and feel alienated

by the emptiness of our role

when love is unsafe we turn

to a time before where

young boys do not scold

(La Fin de Chéri)

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