Thursday, December 08, 2011

Here's a Little Poem Madeleina Found

So years ago, I had friends in college who came out gay. I loved the female, so I didn't think I was, but I still supported them. And when the New York City Gay Rights marches began, I want to say 1970 or 1971, I was on the sidelines cheering. The first year there were five of us cheering on one of us as he proudly walked up 5th Avenue. Next year there were four of us cheering on the two of us proudly walking up 5th Avenue. Next year there was me, cheering on the 5 of us proudly marching up 5th Avenue.
Did I wonder if I was gay too? Yes. I still do. And if I am, I hope I will have the courage my friends had. But at the same time, I still get a freaking hard on thinking about the women I've loved, from K'O to Diane Z to Gail R to Gail B to Cl to AH, to Chepa to Gasd... to all of them. And I don't get the same reaction thinking about the boys or men in my life. I love them. I love seeing them. I just never had the urge to tongue kiss them. Unless I'm hiding it.
So two nights ago my friend Vic came in unexpectedly. I have not seen him since maybe 2001 in NYC. But he's gold in my book and if he wanted to stay a month that would be cool by me.
I've got a bookcase in the room I was going to put him in that has a shelf that's fallen and the day he was coming--he told me at noon, maybe, that he'd be here by 4, I bought those little plastic things you put in book cases to keep the shelves up. And when I picked Madeleina up I gave her a box of them and told her to fix the book case.
Now this book case holds a lot of the international magazines I've been published in, from Geo to Setta to German Playboy. In all, maybe 100. And the next shelf holds a lot of the tear sheets from the feature stories I've written in the last 10- years. And the other shelf has maybe 50 of my notebooks.
So while Madeleina was trying to fix the shelf that had fallen on one side, one of my spiral notebooks fell off the shelf and opened itself up to a little poem I'd written maybe 40 years ago, while my friends were marching up 5th Avenue.
I didn't know that until today, when she came into the living room just a few minutes ago and said:
Ideal Love
Created Above
Is not Enough
To Keep Us Here
From Going Queer
And I said: Man, that sounds like something I wrote a long time ago. Where did you find that?
"It's my new favorite poem, and you are my new favorite poet. Except that when I look at you I see just you and not a poet..."
"I'm the poet when I was in the moment. I'm the healer now when I'm in the healing moment. The rest of the time I'm just the me you know, fully flawed, absolutely dispensable and pretty worthless."
"Okay," she said. "I can deal with that. So you're generally a bum but then you have these moments..."
"You got it."
"Well, then I won't thank you but I will thank the poet moment in you who came up with
'Ideal Love,
Created above
Is not Enough
To Keep us Here
From Going Queer.'
"That's the cooliest, dad. It's just hard to imagine that you were that cool, even for a moment."
You just smile at that. Because that's your baby seeing a side of you trying to explain something very difficult to people in an era when it took extraordinary courage to take that walk up the middle of 5th Avenue in New York City. I'm not saying it takes less today, but I can tell you my friends thought long and hard about what it was to come out. They lost so much. Job opportunities, friendships, sometimes family members or even whole families. I salute their courage even today.

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