August 3, 2016

LGBTQ Poets Respond to the Pulse Nightclub Shooting

torrin a. greathouse

On the Midnight Sky, Fireworks Calling to Us Like a Mother in the Distance

53 dead / queer bodies spread across the night club floor / a host of heartbeats with bullet wounds / guilty of nothing / but surviving / that long // & they say that this wouldn't have happened / if they had been strapping / like a young kid in the hood's never been shot for strapping / never died because they had a gun / or it looked like a gun / in his hand / or he had hands at all // like the winter after Trayvon died / mothers didn't stop buying their sons black hoodies / like we ain't all learning to be afraid of the dark / behind our eyelids // & the summer after that / Tim & i stood / backs to brick walls / faces to the hot black silk / of an 80 degree California night / scarlet sunrise beginning / to drip from the horizon // talking about funerals / & how growing up black / or queer / you watch your mother beginning to bury you / over the evening news / & maybe then i didn't understand / how easy he could look at the back of his hand / & mistake it for the night sky // but now, i want to call him / tell him i am afraid to dance / [& not like we / ain't always been / but not like that] // tell him that i think i understand / disappearing / into the night / or a crowd / anything that will take us // tell him / ain't it funny / how we dance with our hands up / like we can reach god / [like we still believe / he's up there] / like we ain't guilty of anything / but survival / like we got hands at all // i wanna say / how you breathe / on the 4th of July? / when it sounds like the sky is screaming / for us to return to it / when fireworks sound / like gunshots / like mothers' voices / like child, please come home // i wanna say / remember when we weren't afraid? / when we didn't feel like / paper targets? / didn't watch the news / start counting bullets / & graves / wondering when the body count's gonna be high enough / [or if it ever will] // i want to say all of this / message him / near midnight / like we can only speak / of this / when the sky has made itself into a grave // i want to tell him / that i feel myself becoming an exit wound / before they even pull the trigger //

torrin a. greathouse is a transfeminine nonbinary, cripple-punk, queer-do from Southern California, and a Co-Founder of Black Napkin Press. Their work has been published or is upcoming in Rust + Moth, TQ Review, The Feminist Wire, & Caliban Online. They have never been so afraid to be alive in America.

Glass: A Journal of Poetry is published weekly by Glass Poetry Press. All contents © the author.