August 3, 2016
LGBTQ Poets Respond to the Pulse Nightclub Shooting
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.
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