living by day

for the rally at lee park concerning stonewall


the community that we had sanctioned for ourselves
tucked away within maddening crowds
where there was noise around us
where we would remain unrecognized
to be stuff of legend
residing under rocks and tall buildings
fearsome and not quite human
tall tales as late as forty years ago
simplified and explained away
ignored and perhaps forgotten
even to the queer

we had arrived from distant places
hamlets nestled within hills
developments along the outskirts of our wicked city
where hums of paradise drowned away such imperfections
we would seek salvation in chaos
to be moments of honest biography
adjusting to myth and living by day
fearsome and not quite human
ghost stories falling just short of today
drowned out by silence and patience
forgiven our life in noise
even to us

within quiet corners we had bided our time
awaiting packages that do not arrive
relatives that do not write
promises that do not keep
at the end of local alleyways
we had toasted the inevitable dawn
under which the whole world casts a shadow
we had celebrated resemblances of progress
peering outward to the curbside
littered with the broken jaws of ancestors
and the swallowed tongues of past dissent
wrapped in yellow newspaper

peering outward to the parks aflutter beneath midnight hours
shamefully embracing strangers much like ourselves
prisoners to the shade of trees and shrubbery
performing awkward intimacies in the midst of indifferent stars
we saw ourselves as obscured by clouds
buried in smoke
blinded out by obnoxious, hideous limelights
frozen by generations worth of cool evening
elected as the children of unwellness
crowned as the kings and queens of illness
we had chosen then to disregard the bones of the generous
to crawl into the light and the newfound heat of the afternoon

and at that time a bat had swung and broke a faggot's tooth
and a screaming dyke was dragged by her hair
to a house and then kicked out
a policeman shoved a drag queen
and was shocked when the bitch pushed back
and promises were made while we had slept into the next cool evening
and as we stand in this insufferable heat
we are the only of our kind that honestly sweat
within this light we are all that reflects upon cowards at home
we rinse, we repeat
we suffer our cleanliness once and for all

because if you haven't peered in
then how could you have proudly broken your nose
and if you haven't hit back
then how are they supposed to see the same blood
and if you aren't a human being
then how are they supposed to hand you your rights
and if they don't have a soul
then how are they supposed to follow their hearts

dress it so that it can be public
bandage it so that it can return to skin
expose it so that it can prove the common painfulness of life
and let our shadows fall upon an earth we see as home
on this day