Sappho for Everybody

A fundamental part of being queer is being erased, I explain at
            the outset of my talk this basic premise requiring 5.7 
            seconds to sink into the minds of my delegation 

At the nightmare board meeting that has derailed my dreams, I’m
            dashing in cobalt suit, white pocket square, a humble 
            multi-tasker before a great glass boardroom, clicker in hand,
            shoulder pads to the wind, I let it rip, my modest proposal: 

                                     STRAIGHT GAY CULTURE
            Savior stories of access and entitlement everyone can love  

It’s already here! I warble, juggling my wagers in perfect sync,
            Big nonsense proclamations followed by primal screams
            always get them to their feet,  

I have in my possession the latest in a genre I call gauche rive
            gauche: a new straight fantasy novel about dead white 
            lesbians written under lockdown while sunbathing in the south of

My board members get it—guaranteed mainstream reviews!—but
            they’re genuinely charmed by the true star of the author
            photo, the poetess’s tiny background husband in swim trunks
            near the sea,  

Letters of support stream in from the usual best-sellers, To whom it may
            concern: Our transphobic books feature exciting transgender
            protagonists, more huzzahs from the board,  

Ever tearful, never fearful, I grab my trophy and confess, I myself was
            obliged to attend the transgender studies panel organized by
            cis studies, so I ask, Does tour always mean tourism? 

Rhetorical flourish before I walk them through the numbers, A
            figure in Kevlar rolls in the coffee cart, which is how I know
            I’m screwed, 

                                     Everyone gets shoved in a van at some point





            As the world turns                  gays lie awake 
                      gagging on fake episodes                   the only time we cry 

Nervously I apply                     a stick and tint 
            because I’m fabulous and I’m about to meet my maker! 

Between argonauts and incels            I leopard crawl her whereabouts
            Windex squeaks on a secret 
                                                swaddled in her No Razzismo tote bag 

Unmistakable alarm, is it not?             So I twist 
                      as in meme                                          and freeze 

“You are ideal and failure, sentiment and lure,” says my maker,
            a distant relative of Pierre Louÿs, whose ghost stands just
            beyond her on the shore, gripping his sun bleached conch over his
            head, scrawled upon it:                       bed death is a lie 

200 years later the bottle floats back, rolls of film inside sloshed in
            gin, bitter outtakes from tar, from rent, from what I realize is
            theirs and always has been 


This is after after after 

            The fundament of our relations is soft 

They creep over us like mist 

            But in the future          when distance fails

                       gays awake softer still

Copyright © 2023 by Maxe Crandall. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 5, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.