Brief Interval

- 1947-

I knew what I was about
stroking your lovely
neck in the perilously
brief
interval at the intersection of
desire, the real, and feminist
derring-do.

And if the intersection is three
or four points of variance,
divergence, diversion,
aversion, and hapless brief
interval
larger than the grid,
in dread of a walled corner,
a piano stool, a
contraband .38,
and that flip of an
eye eros,
oh, throat

I don’t do well with
expectation. Come up
here if it’s too cool a
story below with your
windows cracked.
Higher is warmer
in this last,
fast
phantasmic
interval.

Related Poems

Dressing Down

   —to Shirley Q. Liquor, Drag Queen in Blackface

When you're gay in Dixie,

you're a clown of a desperate circus.

Sometimes the only way to be like daddy

is to hate like him—

hope your brothers laugh

instead of shoot,

wrap a confederate skirt around your waist.

You traded glamour for nasty tricks—

dethroning your mammy's image for dollars

that will never cover so much debt,

unraveling years she lost

loving you for a living.

Nocturne: Beheaded

for Thapelo Makutle

All throat now      already brighter than the stars.

I could hold you in my song. Sotto voce, tremble

against me: a breeze slips in, cools my blood

to garnet      bed stained with stones, cold and finally

useless            I Orpheo,       I lyre.  Down river, even damned

with hum, there is room for your cry in my mouth       Sweet,

sweet sotto voce, I sang your moan until       the machete

swung      then I kept singing. I eyeless,      I eternal.

The guards hold blades to the sky and cut the dark open.

Do you hear me raining        from the wound? My tongue

is a kingdom       You live there.

My Lover Is a Woman

I.

my lover is a woman
& when i hold her
feel her warmth
     i feel good
     feel safe

then—i never think of
my family’s voices
never hear my sisters say
bulldaggers, queers, funny
     come see us, but don’t
     bring your friends
          it’s ok with us,
          but don’t tell mama
          it’d break her heart
never feel my father
turn in his grave
never hear my mother cry
Lord, what kind of child is this?

 

II.

my lover’s hair is blonde
& when it rubs across my face
it feels soft
     feels like a thousand fingers
     touch my skin & hold me
          and i feel good

then—i never think of the little boy
who spat & called me nigger
never think of the policemen
who kicked my body & said crawl
never think of Black bodies
hanging in trees or filled
with bullet holes
never hear my sisters say
white folks hair stinks
don’t trust any of them
never feel my father
turn in his grave
never hear my mother talk
of her backache after scrubbing floors
never hear her cry
Lord, what kind of child is this?

 

III. 

my lover's eyes are blue
& when she looks at me
i float in a warm lake
     feel my muscles go weak with want
          feel good
          feel safe

then—i never think of the blue
eyes that have glared at me
moved three stools away from me
in a bar
never hear my sisters rage
of syphilitic Black men as
guinea pigs
     rage of sterilized children
          watch them just stop in an
          intersection to scare the old
          white bitch
never feel my father turn
in his grave
never remember my mother
teaching me the yes sirs & ma'ams
to keep me alive
never hear my mother cry
Lord, what kind of child is this?

 

IV.

& when we go to a gay bar
& my people shun me because i crossed
the line
& her people look to see what's
wrong with her
     what defect
     drove her to me

& when we walk the streets
of this city
     forget and touch
     or hold hands
          & the people
          stare, glare, frown, & taunt
               at those queers

i remember
     every word taught me
     every word said to me
     every deed done to me
          & then i hate
i look at my lover
& for an instant
     doubt

then—i hold her hand tighter
     & i can hear my mother cry.
     Lord, what kind of child is this?