August 3, 2016
LGBTQ Poets Respond to the Pulse Nightclub Shooting
I. Hazardous Material
As we reach the mutual climax of our love making
they burst in wearing haz mat suits
and set fire to the bed sheets
We run naked and barefoot into the streets
A crowd gathers behind us
coming out of their glass houses to throw stones
We keep running, hand in hand
a white-knuckle grip
one pulling the other up
or along when he buckles or stops
to examine a fresh cut to the sole of his foot
The crowd is slowed
carefully avoiding the assault
course of blood we leave on the pavement
from our torn feet
We run for a year, without looking back
We do not sleep, eat or drink
and despite our nakedness, we do not think of making love
We will never know what kept us alive that year
some miracle we suppose, like the one that happens next
We both begin to glow
Our veins sing like a chorus of angels
“Hallelujah we are clean
Hallelujah we are clean”
Our wounded feet heel themselves before our eyes
We give our miracle blood as an offering
as thanks to a society that forced us to see the light
II. Tweets after Orlando
"You tell us that you don't mind what we do
as long as we do it behind closed doors
and then you kick down those closed doors
and open fire"
"If you can't wrap your head around
a bar or club as a sanctuary
you've probably never been afraid
to hold someone's hand in public"
"Waiting time for a gay man
to donate blood: 1 year of no sexual contact
Waiting time for a psychopath
to purchase an assault rifle: 3 days"
Banning blood donation from gay men
goes hand in hand with the thinking
that would lead someone to massacre us
That we are unclean, our lifestyle undesirable
that our private lives are a public problem
to be looked down upon, to be ashamed of
When only those who hate us want our blood
and we live in fear of expressing our love
and our sanctuaries don't feel safe anymore
We must march in the street, meet in public places
perform on stages, raise our voices louder still
It takes more than a gun to make someone kill.
Dean Atta has been described by The Huffington Post as "one of the leading lights in London's poetry scene" and by Apples and Snakes as "unafraid to tackle topics other poets turn a blind eye to".
His debut collection, I Am Nobody's Nigger, published by the Westbourne Press, was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize.
He was named as one of the most influential LGBT people in the UK by The Independent on Sunday Pink List and featured in Out News Global Pride Power List.
He has performed across the UK at festivals such as Brighton Fringe, Cheltenham Book Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Hay Festival, Latitude Festival, Secret Garden Party, and internationally at Biennale of Young Artists from Europe and the Mediterranean (Italy), CrossKultur (Germany), Ordspark (Sweden) and Word N Sound (South Africa).
He is a member of Keats House Poets and Malika's Poetry Kitchen, as well as an Associate Artist with Mouthy Poets and New Writing South.
He has been commissioned to write poems for BBC Radio 4, BBC World Service, Dazed & Confused, Keats House Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain and Tate Modern.
He is currently working on his second poetry collection The Black Flamingo.
Glass: A Journal of Poetry is published weekly by Glass Poetry Press.
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