August 3, 2016
LGBTQ Poets Respond to the Pulse Nightclub Shooting
Pulse: the setting on a blender at the bar
Pulse: the steady beat of Latin music
I woke up to a text from my lioness
saying our PRIDE had been damaged
just twenty-four hours after we talked
about displaying affection and the need
to feel safe above the need to feel loved
Pulse: the monument in Orlando to the power of love
My lioness said it could have been her
dancing less than two hours away
at a club in a city called GaYBOR
Pulse: the last thing the EMT checks before closing our eyes
I cannot continue to be silent.
There are always tears. Separate
little streams filled with our latest deep
regret, latest outrage. We use these waters, charged
with particles of unfulfilled emotion, to erode
the cracks between us even more deeply and to become
By water on all sides.
The children of Sandy Hook Elementary School
studied them in their geography classes.
The students at Umpqua Community College
told them that life changes on isolated
islands. That predators cause
insular dwarfism and that's why there have been
nine hundred ninety-eight shootings in the last three years and seven months
with promises of Thoughts and Prayers from the survivors. We forced
ourselves to reduce the size of the impact of these predators. On an island,
smaller size is an advantage.
Pulse: the pounding sensation of my heart in my throat
I feel myself bleeding against the splinters
on my closet door, left over from where I tried
to claw my way out. And I think of my siblings
outed by gunshots. Of their families who might
have accepted them if they only knew
how little time they had left to celebrate.
Pulse: the shockwave agitating the waters we've grown so fond of
This weekend, we learned we do not have to fear
the water between us. The sailors at Washington Navy Yard
said vis per mare. This weekend, we reached out our arms and held
each other’s hands. We pulled our islands back together and helped
each other step onto a continent of solidarity.
We broke the silence.
Pulse: the sound of life beating inside a plastic bag — from half of us
This weekend we learned that we are not yet done.
That the closet is a revolving door we have to push
our way through as we come out, go in, get stuck.
Pulse: the thump in my chest as anxiety sweeps through my veins
My lioness said we are straight until proven "strayed,"
that she would give anything to stray forever farther
with me. I said I didn't know why it was so hard to say
three little words, but that until "I am gay" no longer
means "it gets worse," it is hard to believe that it could
Pulse: the understanding that each heartbeat is confirmation that it will be better
"In the midst of tragedy, I often turn to poetry as my voice. Somehow, piecing words together helps me begin to understand the senseless acts of tragedy we are so accustomed to.
When I heard about the attack at Pulse, I lost my words for a few days. I felt unable to comment, not just because it was yet another instance of watching our elected officials go through the motions of advocating for change while fearing for their political lives, but because it was an attack on my community. I felt ashamed; publicly, this was not my community. And yet I bled with these people, I cried with them, and I — for the first time — belonged with them.
That was where I found my voice. In the exposed crack of a revolving closet door that had gotten stuck as it tried to push me back inside."
Glass: A Journal of Poetry is published weekly by Glass Poetry Press.
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