I don’t need poetry anymore.
I folded it up and left it behind on the A train, wedged between seats. I left it hanging outside Central Park, wavering uncertainly in the wind as I rushed underground, in a big hurry to catch my ride.
It wasn’t appropriate anymore to dig through my heart for noise that will let me make music. For screams that can be leashed out to words and tied to meaning. Who will be around to explain that things changes? The world becomes unrecognizable and it drifts.
We are grown now. Unless it is ‘eggs’ to the grocery list, there is no need to scribble anything urgently anywhere anymore. Much less in parks, or the inside of a church or waiting next to the bodega, sniffing the sharpness in the air. There is no poetry in trains anymore.
Time has lost its wisdom. It’s become distracted and hurried. And cluttered in a way that poetry can no longer sweep clean. There’s no order here, no rhymes and clicks that make sense.
Something gets snagged, caught. Not clear what it is yet. A piece that you can only taste, that doesn’t have words yet, not even a story or people. All you remember is feeling afraid and unhappy. It made you wake up and pay attention to the ceiling. I negotiate wisps of my dreams back. It solidifies reluctantly as if it were giving away a secret. There are cracks in my dream, and bits have slipped through, escaped my lazy scrutiny.
Demanding gay rights as a condition of loans, aid, and alliances can all too easily become the West’s civilizing mission of the day — which exacerbates the underlying conflict being worked out across the terrain of sexuality. Narratives of colonialism as white men saving brown women from brown men are all too easily reproduced when the Western media casts, for example, the rape of lesbians in South Africa through the familiar romantic imperial triangle of black victims, black savages, and white saviors — in this case gay rights activists from the West.
Joseph Massad offers a critical account of the incitement to discourse about “homosexuality” in the contemporary Islamic world in particular, suggesting that international gay rights activism in the context of both modern fundamentalism and ruling postcolonial elites in need of convenient “enemies” has, in practice, had devastating effects on Arab or Muslim men who have sex with men. When homosexuality is made to carry the burden of ongoing histories of domination and cultural conflict, the visibility that is the cornerstone of Western gay and lesbian politics can bring extreme vulnerability, even as it offers the prospect of new kinds of legibility, political representation and citizenship. Gay rights activists from the West, therefore, need to be far more aware of the racial and postcolonial politics that intersect with questions of sexuality when they engage in public discourse about the sexual mores and politics of “other” cultures or attempt to make interventions on behalf of “gay” people in the global South.
—- South Africa and the Dream of Love to Come: Queer Sexuality and the Struggle for Freedom by Brenna M. Munro.
Not the most obvious train commute reading, but I read Munro’s work almost entirely on the subway. Dense and intense, it was a gripping, queer-fied retelling of the apartheid story, the South African story, and stories of migration.
Woke up this morning, brimming with troubles. Brewed coffee saved me.
I thought about what the saddest thing in the world could be. If it could be just one thing. Surprisingly, I came upon a coffee-shop at the end of a long, empty highway — dark, ill-lit — an elderly white man smoking and drinking coffee. He is facing devastating loneliness — the kind that cannot be allayed by the mere presence of other people. Attempts are being made to distract, and it is not working.
It waits, with weight as real as touch. Fear.
The kind that plunges deep inside you and watches you.
“Forgetfulness” by Billy Collins
The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,
as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.
Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,
something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.
Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.
It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.
No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.