The static living in these speakers whispers infinity,
But promises nothing,
Just like this northwestern Iowa horizon,
Stretching beyond realities I have only seen in dreams.
Because your gravity,
In its own blind infinity
Has made my wings too weak for flight.
And so I walk these miles between us,
Building distance and walls and electricity between us,
Filling our sporadic phone exchanges
With digital/analogue static,
Red with my rage
And white with the chosen blankness of your canvas,
Because I could never hold a gun like you,
Or track the innocent blood of my prey like you,
And you got lost in the pages of my vision
Because I speak geometry and waterfalls.
Though you tried.
You tried to solve my labyrinth,
But you only learned the ones and zeros
Of a binary that cannot fully describe
How my body loves Paris,
Or the bittersweet hurt of otherness,
Or what to name the lump I get in my throat every time he holds my hand…
And though I speak your binary,
It only pours from my mouth in torrents of noise,
As the blue static of sadness
And the longing to teach you
The Arithmetic that engineers my gears into motion.
These gears that carry me forward like fictional science,
Longing for division,
Until your binary is finally broken by three,
Crashing into your exosphere
And burning up your infinite white atmosphere,
Until there is only static,
The same static of sadness that lived on my tongue,
That now holds yours silent,
Vibrating only the same binary noise
You spoke before.
But you have tasted integers,
And I will teach you to speak three,
Until you can subtract the marginal
And coat your tongue in the rich color of real numbers.
And though the static may still be blue,
Falling through the whispered infinite nothingness
On the airwaves of these Midwestern highways,
I will always, always find my way home.
The static living in these speakers whispers infinity,
What isn’t spoken?
We wait for the bough to break,
The bomb to drop,
And then cry confused when the world stops,
Spinning out of control in a storm of pointed fingers and forked tongues slashing at foreign skin.
What lies within?
What begs to be spoken?
Broken limbs, battered hope,
Bruised hands held out to hold together the seams of lives,
Fading like sand through fingers,
Fallout like broken teeth that never tasted dreams.
Speak out loud.
Sing your soul.
Speak thunder, sparks elemental,
As earth from the ground pours forth to sprout the sound of spring as it falls eternal
From the fountain of an engaged,
Blow hurricane gusts to fan the flames of passion, as it spreads like a wild fire across states, and oceans, and worlds.
Speak passion in the acid face of poison.
Speak to break silence.
Speak to save lives.
Speak clenched fists to battle injustice.
Speak as the words fail to fall from the mouths of foes.
Speak with tongue cocked and loaded to smash the walls of ignorance and intolerance that corrode around us all.
Speak hammers and nails to build bridges as walls fall to dust.
Speak, for the war is ours to win.
Speak to seek humanity in everyone.
Speak love, speak trust, speak unity.
Speak guilt, compassion, forgiveness, friendship, and acceptance.
Speak to bear the ties that bind us, the threads that bond us, and the hands that hold us up under one common sky.
Most of all, speak.
Heartbeat sounds with fists on chest, building in intensity. Performer is wearing an ornate masquerade mask.
They didn’t know. They must know. How don’t they know? Because word travels faster than the speed of light when there’s no topography to fight the flight of rumors ground out the mill, flavor to fill the empty lives of farmfolk who still bask in the shadows of depression days. Six hundred sixty men and women who decay in a two-square-mile mass grave, whose whispers seep secrets like radon from fertile soil, whose radar eyes seek sins from the summits of silos.
This is the grave upon which I danced in anticipation, where I knew the seeds of my undoing were bound to come to germination, hatched from scraps of what the sentinels could scrape from false friends who had sucked my secrets from the sea foam of a vast ocean I was still trying to navigate through the storm.
Funny how easy it was at first to hide, to craft the abridged paperback of a self that was safe, as I fought the fate of a gay man who was trying to escape the shackles of a rural, right wing, God-fearing upbringing. But hiding soon morphed into masquerade as I matured under threat of parental shame.
It all came to be at that family feast where I should have been too young to comprehend, I was only ten, but my adult insides had forced my ears to be anything but virgin as the conversation turned to the death of tradition.
“Did you hear about that one boy from town? They caught him kissing another boy behind the barn at his class reunion!!!”
The general rumble of reproach that rippled round the table grew unstable as it climaxed in a tidal wave crash that hit my father:
“I can say right now that any son who’s gay or doesn’t believe in god will be no son of mine!”
My neuroses beat through my brain like explosives, draining my claim on life as puritanical pitchforks swarmed, razor sharp tines like the springboard knife that plunged me into pools of red, where I floated, paralyzed by that one single memory swimming inside my head…
But before my masquerade could be unmasked, I made my escape to a real world place where gay had become ok, and for the first time I found my feet falling in line with people like me, where I could be the man behind the mask, and where a blond boy with blue eyes asked me to dance, my heartbeat busting through skin like a baby gasping for first breath. (“Blue Eyes” by Cary Brothers plays as actor dances.)
This brand new oxygen, a defensive distraction from the backroad demons that held me in their bastion, gave me the motion and momentum I needed to finally show myself in same light to the man and woman who called me their child as the men and women who called me their own. And if I could soften the blow, maybe in time, with the right support, I could condition my father’s mind to the idea of a son who would marry a man someday, when the mask could finally fall away and we could watch the past fade in flames.
“Just shut up and drive!” The terror rung in my head, as I clung to the uncomfortable comfort I was about to tear to shreds. As adrenaline raged, dialogue dead, Mom and I sped toward Easter Sunday, her armed with a relish tray, and me with the shock of the bomb I needed to drop before the moment passed and we faded into another holiday Cosby episode.
The words clung to my throat like a death row inmate whose number was up. But with one last push, the palpitations cocked and loaded the words to be shot from my tongue, and I slammed on the gas and we sped past…
“What are you doing?
“I have to tell you something…”
“I… I’m…I’m gay.”
“No, you’re not.”
“Yeah, I am.”
“No. You’re not.”
“Yeah, I am.”
“Well, I don’t like that very much.”
“I can’t help it, Mom. I’ve known practically my entire life. I can’t change who I am. I’ve tried.”
“Well, what are people going to think?”
“All of my friends know, even the ones in town. I’m sure some of their parents know. I’m surprised you haven’t heard already, the way word gets ‘round.”
“Well I haven’t. What about your brother? He looks up to you.”
“I told him, and he supports me.”
“What about your father? He’s not going to be very happy. He’ll be disgusted. What about your grandparents? Your grandma’s been through enough disappointment in her life… Just turn the car around.”
Heart heavy as the lead in my throat, I shrunk in silence into the seat where I had sealed my fate, my mind racing to find a way to save myself, but the words clung to the air, heavy as my heart, as my mother’s eyes searched for her son in the stranger sitting in the driver’s seat. A son she couldn’t find.
“When I get out of this car, I’m going to forget this ever happened.”
With the slam of a door, the frowning fault lines on her face flipped upward into a smile so fake she put my mask to shame.
I braced for my heart to fall to shards,
Heartbeats, slow, but building to a normal speed
But it remained in place. Three years later, those graveyard sentinels still cast their gaze wide to seek my secrets, and the air in my childhood home is still hangs heavy with the heft of the burden now borne by my mother, to which my father is still blind. But that door slammed shut awakened me to the momentous strength I held in dispelling that lie. And though the part of me that longed for their acceptance never died, in this place where I have realized my real, unabridged life…
Finally the performer stands up and slowly lets the mask fall to the floor.
I. Am finally. Free.
Dive deep into intellectual spatulate cups,
Two flowers born akin,
The left grown from Genome,
The right from the whim of Time,
As fault lines drive the tectonic shifts of Life,
Shattering porcelain plates through
Meander down electroencephalogram valleys,
Where patience pools in pits of pain,
And passion floats rafts of sin through broken veins
To the shores of the plain of Mars,
Whose breathless calm is undermined by
Waves of the mind, blowing bars
Of artsong down deep rivers longing to once again
Reach the summit of Mount Venus,
Whose lovely peak is a beacon that guides
The line of life to long-lost places,
Tributaries leading to seldom-seen spaces,
Where dreams unfold beyond imagination,
Paying tribute in adoration to the Mount of the Moon,
Who looms large and strong to stand in the face of Fate,
Whose doom threats cannot oppose the
Gravity of the Cosmos,
Whose long threads connect shards
through the fog of Time
and the cavity of Space.
As I waited for the valet,
A wealthy-looking, silver-haired
Woman rolled up in her knock-off Rolls Royce coupe.
And as her children and her children’s children
Streamed from the backseat, reminiscent, surely,
Of the fertile crescent between her sacred Tigris and Euphrates
Thirty years ago when her husband was a dynamo in the sack,
She unfolded her ancient batwings from the confines of her metal cocoon
And with piercing nocturnal precision,
She began to dissect me.
Her eyes first locked with my own,
Piercing into each of the 206 individual bones in my body.
With surgical precision she fused them all into one
With the stare of both trial and sentence.
As her eyes pulled out of my insides,
They caressed slowly, methodically,
Down the length of my arm,
To where my fingers were locked
With those of the man I love,
Holding on for support from the blow we both knew was coming.
And as she nodded, her suspicions confirmed,
Her arm cocked at the ready, she jammed her ham hands
Into her fake Michael Kors bag and accosted us both with…
“You were born in sin!”
“Come into the House of God!”
“You are completely unworthy of the gift this stranger is belligerently shoving in your face!”
“You boys need to read these words and learn something.”
She said, as the disgust oozed from her pores.
She said, as she dropped her thousand-year-old judgment bomb on our love.
She said, as if the contempt raining from her lips would germinate the seeds of our repentance.
But the bomb drop blood rain of bigoted words
Ignited the bottle rocket in my brain,
And in the wake her ignorant tidal wave,
I laughed in her face,
shredded her pamphlet,
And kissed my man in the flutter of God’s ticker tape blizzard.
“Real love is not made of spider silk,”
Tweet subtext to tear them to shreds. TWEET
WITH ALL CAPS TO SEVER HEADS. Tweet
Stone apples dropped to break bones. Tweet
sticks and stones. Tweet
Tide pool ripples in the digital sea. Tweet
Verbal tsunamis to avenge me. Tweet
Binary bile spat from snakeskin smiles.
Enter in silent pulse beating
Flutter pit pat boom
To the flow of sonic gold
Crashing through brick
Walls, crowded halls,
Full of bodily mist,
Half empty drinks fused
To clenched fists where
Breath waits to fill
Lung chasms with
Noble gases, to
Shatter the glass
Ceiling of perception
In the chimera den.
Her spastic bleat
Bass drum machine
Lures them in as she coaxes heads
To spin round on axes,
Floating body on flame,
Like thermals on matches,
Burning with passion
As she sings the soul to
Ashes, ashes, and they all
Fall down to her feet
And praise Mother
Night for her sacrament,
In the convent of the chimera den.
Let her unravel
In the hissing steam
Pounding like gavels from
The cracks in mental stream,
Traps to catch the wandering
Without maps to guide them,
Star-stained eyes poised
To petrify souls in flight
And bring them back
To graveyard shacks,
Shackled and chained,
Where they will sleep sound,
Coiled in the chimera den.