Revenge of the Beat Poet

Torn between deliberation revolution conciliation retribution
Walking streets of animosity and doubt figure it out
Shout throw your head back and howl like Ginsberg at a
Blood-red moon foreshadowing freedom dissolved in acid
Rain of desperation disfranchisement lusty greed greedy lust
Dust to miserable dust in your eyes your face everyplace
But here, now there everywhere but where we are.

Caught beneath thumbs and screws screwed by youth
Abandoned by age dipped in stone ossified in banker’s ink
Think as you sink into bogs swamps derelict haunts of ghosts
Starved of identity shrouded in mystery conferred by infertility
Of mind the gap a trap for the incautious incapable of second sight
Or first for that matter batter up drink the cup emptied by life
And thrown in our faces how many races end in death?
What’s left but Mammon and dust-covered rust?

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For the longest time I made fun of the “cool cat” beat mentality, until I read Ginsberg’s “Howl” and realized I had misconstrued the lot of them. Sitting on the living room floor, reading his seminal work aloud at the top of my voice, swaying to the (yes) beat of his anger and frustration, and that of an entire generation of young Americans–it was an experience I will not soon forget. It occurred to me that as a nation (and as a world) we need to howl once again, together, in unison, loud enough to shake the heavens and wake the gods. This is my tribute to that feeling…

Coming Out

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I have decided that it’s time for me to come out of the closet. I have been living in denial, dissimulation, and doubt for far too long, and I’m done. It’s time to be honest, with myself and with you. It’s time to embrace who I am and where I’m going, instead of letting others define me for me. It’s time I stood up and stated openly my real identity, without shame, without compromise, without guilt, without fear. It’s time for me to lay my cards on the table and be myself.

I am straight. Mom, Dad, I’m sorry, but I just can’t fight it any longer. I’m straight. All those years in the theater notwithstanding, I am straight. I apologize sincerely to all those I may shock with this revelation, but I have to stand up for who I am. I am a heterosexual. I love women. Well, woman, anyway. My wife. I tried to overcome this attraction, I tried to swallow the urge to marry a person of the opposite sex, but in the end, I had to be who I am. I am a straight, straight man.

There! I said it! It’s done.

And it’s ridiculous.

The idea that anyone should have to “confess” their sexual orientation to the world, as if asking permission to be who they are, is always ridiculous, no matter who the person, no matter what that orientation. If you found my version even slightly superfluous, possibly a bit redundant even, then the same should apply across the board, to all people, everywhere. We are who we are, and the only way that becomes perverted is when we’re forced (or force others) to pretend that we’re not. As Gay Activists Alliance leader Marty Robinson wrote in 1971, “the closet is built in fear, not shame.” And we shove people into it every day.

But (for those of you who panicked when you read the first paragraph of this post), here’s my real “confession”: I love gay men. I also love lesbians, bisexuals, and the transgendered. I am both amused and horrified by those who suggest that I have a choice in the matter. (Or, for that matter, that they do.) I love the fact that I have never met a homosexual who has tried to persuade me that I won’t be truly happy until I become one, too. I have a dear friend who, with his partner (his husband, actually, although they’re not legally entitled to use the term where they live), is preparing to adopt a child, and I love the fact that a man faced with such social revulsion is still capable of giving that much love. I love that they love, and I love that they love in spite of all the people trying to tell them that love is good…except for theirs.

So I’m out, I’m proud, and I refuse to be forced back in.

“Love the sinner, hate the sin,” you tell me. Don’t worry. I do. It’s just not the “sin” you’re thinking of…

The Insane Ramblings of a Disturbed Mind

There is an insect in my brain,
A beetle
Tunneling deep,
Never sleeping, always
Creeping, keeping careful to its path
Toward the core of my existence.
This monster
Brings an itch that won’t bear scratching.
I feel there’s something hatching in my
Skull, into the void and into the null, the pull
Of distraction, not a fraction but the
Whole of my attention. Have I mentioned the
Itch? Son of a bitch! This
Itch won’t go away! And the insect
Keeps on crawling, mauling
My subconscious with the spectre of its progress.
The cold, staccatto beat of its spiny,
Spindly feet echoes through the caverns of my
Sentience. But
It is not the sound I dread; it is the
Silence
In my head that promises oblivion, that
Threatens with vermilion eyes, that
Whispers of decay in words I cannot say,
Will not repeat. What is death but sweet retreat from
This creature’s perseverance?
And on it plods. Oh, God!
This
Itch…

Lost

Oh, to be lost in the rose-capped mountains,
Wandering a grove of fir, dark, thickly-set, and
Wet with the dewfall of Nature’s passion. To fashion
A cabin of lilac and fern, as fuel naught but
Petals and blossoms on fire, set by desire of warmth
And protection. Perfection comes in gusts and cool breezes
Through stands dogwood white; dappled sunlight plays
The days away against emerald backdrop; sapphire glimpsed briefly in
Soft-swaying treetop dancing a hornpipe of
Muted elation, a self-celebration of all that is
Real, that is vital. An impromptu revival is held,
The forest on its knees in mottled cathedral of trees. Quiet!
If you please.

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Bucket List

If your goal in life is neither
To touch or be touched, you’ve a good chance at
Being successful.
How stressful!

If you seek to become number one
In all things, with last words and
And all that…
What a feat.
Take a seat!

The farther you go,
The closer you stay to
Wasting away without saying
A word of good use. I may be obtuse;
You may find me distasteful–
But I’d rather be shunned than think myself
Wasteful of what I’ve been given, a mind, a
Thought-world to live in. Better to die
Having lived than to
Live without dying.

I am trying.

Exposed

I face the world alone
In a crowded space, my face but
Many of more than one. The hour’s begun and
Ended, upended by the one following after,
Laughter chased by passing years, failing fears replaced
By frozen tears, locked in time as words in rhyme.

I join the world unborn, unlived,
Undead, inbred through kissing cousins–
Joy and sorrow–
One today and, on the morrow,
Another. Brother to all, son of none but
Only one, inside my head, seed of thought,
Root of all that ought to be and
Is not.

I stand to sit on shoulders of giants,
Defiant.

Marathoner’s Prayer

When death becomes a commonplace,
An all too familiar face leering at us from our
Television screens, news reports, magazines; when
Evil wails our national anthem with sinister grin and
Wild abandon–

What hope remains? Do we turn to God, some far-off
Being, supposed to care, all-knowing, all-seeing, who
Must have known and might have acted? Should this not have attracted
His attention? Was he not aware? Does he care? Is
He there?

We share our doubts, to be counted out and set
Aside, left to cry as the world has always cried: into its
Sleeve. Leave the
Answers to the holy ones: evil belongs; the end has come. So watch and pray. And
At the end of the day
Nothing changes…

I beg you: look me in the eye and
Understand. We live and die together, whether or not
We know it. My life is yours, yours is mine, and in that bond we define
The divine, not external, internal. We face the infernal as one tissue, one body,
However shoddy it may feel. This is Real–
The ordeal, the struggle to become. We are dead; we are living; the space
Between forgiving and forgetting is the moment we inhabit. So grab it and
Refuse to let it go. In the insistence, in the instant of
Recognition
Lies redemption, resolution,

Absolution.

Healing from the reeling sorrow, from the pain,
Ingrained–
But
We
Remain.

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Why?

Wherefore art I Romeo’s
Understudy? If love consists of whispers
Between patio and balcony; if a kiss is a
Strange sort of alchemy that turns lips into
Song; if attraction will not succumb to redaction for long, then

Where did I go wrong?

The face in the mirror is mine but
Not my own. Yours is there, too; I’m no longer sure
Who’s me and what’s you. Love may be
True, but it’s falsehood as well. Oh, Hell.

We fell, and now we cannot
Come back from whatever pack of lies
They have fed us. Love is a myth, a
Tale that is read us when we are children,
And then we are left to wander the wilderness,
Stuck in the doubt of belief that’s gone by, and wondering
Why?

To fly, to walk in the air–
It’s hard to accept that the world up there
Is real. To feel is to hurt, to hurt is to feel; what’s the deal
With this burden I carry? A weight on my shoulders, heavier as
Older: I no longer know what it means
To care. To be fair, I’m no longer convinced of much at all.
Blame it on the fall into
Whatever it’s called. Love, or something, I think.
So they tell me. But what is the meaning when success is
To try to fly without trying? When living is dying
A little each day?

It won’t go away, this thought I’m not thinking.
I feel like

I’m sinking…

Who?

Who decides the shape of
What’s inside of me? The cogs and wheels,
Nuts, bolts, and spinning
Yarn of my identity–They or
Me? Or We? Am I
Happy or am I sad? Am I
Glad, or is that bad? Unclad and
Unashamed; who’s to say whether
Praise or blame adorn my name? My fame resides
In infamy: this life is rife with
Inconsistency that sets me free and holds me fast. And
At last, the me you see is only a dream that seems
Real but is fake, full but
Empty. Hollow space that wears a face with
Nothing but shadows behind, you’ll find. A
Mere facade searching for god in common things and
Tales of kings. A pair of wings with
Nowhere to fly.