August 3, 2016

LGBTQ Poets Respond to the Pulse Nightclub Shooting

Dean Atta


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 Calum McSwiggan "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" Jeramey Kraatz "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" Jack O'Brien "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" III. Sanctuary 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. All contents © the author.