August 3, 2016

LGBTQ Poets Respond to the Pulse Nightclub Shooting

Rachel Schmieder-Gropen

when America's queer pulse stopped beating

it was only because the beat of the music took on too many of its other meanings. it was shocked back to life as soon as the news broke, we broke, we have always known to carry defibrillators on our backs, we have always known. America's queer pulse is beating straight blood now and maybe that will make its body safer. I'm wondering if my mother's scared for me and if that's why she hasn't said anything. I'm thinking about mothers who learned their children were queer when they learned they were dead, or almost, I'm thinking about their bodies, their mouths. do they feel like triggers? the day after the attack I stayed silent at the hair salon when my hairdresser said, "got a boyfriend?" and felt like I'd been shot or maybe like I was the shooter. I think about the people for whom that isn't a metaphor, think about their fathers refusing to bury them in their favorite clothes. burying them. cremating names their partners don't recognize. listen: can you hear a whole world of us, saying their names out loud? listen: America's queer pulse is still playing music. after I heard the news, my first ferocious impulse was to kiss my girlfriend in public, and then: to dance in the streets with my hands above my head. call it hope, call it Hallelujah. call it reaching out to God.

Rachel Schmieder-Gropen is a junior at Mount Holyoke College, where she is double majoring in English and French. She received the 2016 Gertrude Claytor Award from the Academy of American Poets and has been nominated for the Aliki Perroti and Seth Frank Most Promising Young Poet Award. She plans to publish a full-length collection entitled Pouring the Salt in late 2016.

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