August 3, 2016

LGBTQ Poets Respond to the Pulse Nightclub Shooting

Douglas Ray

Ground Rules After Orlando

— after Dead Gaze’s "Tongue Tied" Imagine me, like Sisyphus, happy — you must, really, like Camus said — and sweat-weary, dog-cussing god and Saint Whitney Houston (gone too soon!). Look at the steam rising off perfect chests, diamond-bright this midday summer solstice, ground splitting open with desire or lack or something in-between. These are the swipe-right moments, the undress and say yes because the boulder goes up again tomorrow. I bruised an orchid this morning because I looked too hard. I’m not sorry, darling, for wanting more.

Douglas Ray is author of He Will Laugh, a collection of poems, and editor of The Queer South: LGBTQ Writers on the American South, which was a finalist for Lambda Literary Award. He earned his B.A. in classics and English and M.F.A. in creative writing from The University of Mississippi. Since 2010, he has taught at Indian Springs School in Birmingham, Alabama. He joins the faculty of Western Reserve Academy, a boarding school in Hudson, Ohio, in the fall as an upper school English teacher. "In his extended philosophical essay The Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus lays out his view of Absurdism via the figure from Greek mythology condemned to roll a boulder up a mountain only to see it roll down again. A meaningless, pointless existence — absurd, even, to live. But at the end, Camus tells us (in French), "One must imagine Sisyphus happy." I thought of that line after the shootings at the Pulse in Orlando during Pride month, during Ramadan, during an election year, on a Sunday morning. Everything seems especially absurd. I understand that it is still a choice to leap towards happiness or to something close to it while experiencing the weight of grief. And queer desire, under siege, still seems risky, delicate, and radical."

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