Calling All Epic Seers
Louie Crew

—No closet lyricists need apply—
Most gay male poets
     In earlier generations
     Were trapped
     In essentially private visions,
Singing a song of self.
A nurse wanders among the lilacs
     And the wounded,
His tramcar conductor disguised
     As the whore of new orleans.
A wharf quean hides
     His sailor tricks
In symbols of bridge and bird
     Until he drowns.
A latin lyricist
     Laments a boy friend’s
Hot death at five o’clock
     In the afternoon.
A transatlantic hybrid intellect
     Defines the old masters’ rightness
About the randomness of grief
     Even as he hides his sex
Behind proper pronouns,
     Except in bad limericks
Which he reserves for a few friends.
In a twilight kingdom,
     Where rats’ feet skim broken glass,
We learn the madness,
     To repress our feelings,
And reduce our might acts,
     Good and bad,
To “do I dare to eat a peach?”
     We dress our depression
In high church,
     And sport english tweed
Even when we visit texas in summer,
     With its own fading star.
Some of us howl when discovered,
     Uncovered, in flagrante delicto,
Snatch snatches while we chant “om”
     To protest napalm, mayor daley,
And vietnam.
Others sing of genitalia,
     Miles and miles of it,
As if going public
     Means going pubic.
They fumigate their imaginations.
     They concentrate on bodies alone,
And leave persons for the dawn.
Most isolate sex.
     Only three at most share a cell.
The damned do not cluster,
     Never crowd.
Few sing of our sisters—
     Raped, battered, abandoned, neglected,
Denied custody, excoriated—
     Victims to the same heel.
Our singers have composed
     Few common songs
Even for brothers
     Who walk silently
Or chant drab prose
     In our street parades.
Our singers hide
     In the back of the bus.
Most gay male poets
     In all generations
Have been trapped
     In essentially private visions.

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