A Poem for Pulse

A Poem for Pulse
by Jameson Fitzpatrick

Last night, I went to a gay bar

with a man I love a little.

After dinner, we had a drink.

We sat in the far-back of the big backyard

and he asked, What will we do when this place closes?

I don’t think it’s going anywhere any time soon, I said,

though the crowd was slow for a Saturday,

and he said—Yes, but one day. Where will we go?

He walked me the half-block home

and kissed me goodnight on my stoop—

properly: not too quick, close enough

our stomachs pressed together

in a second sort of kiss.

I live next to a bar that’s not a gay bar

—we just call those bars, I guess—

and because it is popular

and because I live on a busy street,

there are always people who aren’t queer people

on the sidewalk on weekend nights.

We just call those people, I guess.

They were there last night.

As I kissed this man I was aware of them watching

and of myself wondering whether or not they were just

people. But I didn’t let myself feel scared, I kissed him

exactly as I wanted to, as I would have without an audience,

because I decided many years ago to refuse this fear—

an act of resistance. I left

the idea of hate out on the stoop and went inside,

to sleep, early and drunk and happy.

While I slept, a man went to a gay club

with two guns and killed fifty people. At least.

Today in an interview, his father said he had been disturbed

by the sight of two men kissing recently.

What a strange power to be cursed with,

for the proof of our desire to move men to violence.

What’s a single kiss? I’ve had kisses

no one has ever known about, so many

kisses without consequence—

but there is a place you can’t outrun,

whoever you are.

There will be a time when.

It might be a bullet, suddenly.

The sound of it. Many.

One man, two guns, fifty dead—

Two men kissing. Last night

is what I can’t get away from, imagining it, them,

the people there to dance and laugh and drink,

who didn’t believe they’d die, who couldn’t have.

How else can you have a good time?

How else can you live?

There must have been two men kissing

for the first time last night, and for the last,

and two women, too, and two people who were neither.

Brown people mostly, which cannot be a coincidence in this country

which is a racist country, which is gun country.

Today I’m thinking of the Bernie Boston photograph

Flower Power, of the Vietnam protestor placing carnations

in the rifles of the National Guard,

and wishing for a gesture as queer and simple.

The protester in the photo was gay, you know,

he went by Hibiscus and died of AIDS,

which I am also thinking about today because

(the government’s response to) AIDS was a hate crime.

Reagan was a terrorist.

Now we have a president who loves Us,

the big and imperfectly lettered Us, and here we are

getting kissed on stoops, getting married some of Us,

some of Us getting killed.

We must love one another whether or not we die.

Love can’t block a bullet

but it can’t be destroyed by one either,

and love is, for the most part, what makes Us Us—

in Orlando and in Brooklyn and in Kabul.

We will be everywhere, always;

there’s nowhere else for Us, or you, to go.

Anywhere you run in this world, love will be there to greet you.

Around any corner, there might be two men. Kissing.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

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