“Get Your Hands Off My Brother”
by Nicole Blackman
Get your hands off my brother
I don’t care if his name is Stephen or Daniel
or James or Billy or even if I don’t know his name at all.
They are all my brothers and you have no right
no right at all, to attack any one of them.
What is it about love that makes you so scared and angry?
You fear what you don’t understand
but how could a gay man earn such a beating?
You think you are mighty because
you are 18, ineloquent and full of rage
standing over a man with blood pouring from his nose.
Where in the world did you get the idea
that murdering a man will make your life any better?
These men are all my brothers because
they were the ones who came
to pick me up from a phone booth
after I got thrown out of a car.
They rubbed my shoulders in taxis when I was tired
and bought me a drink when I didn’t have the money.
They went with me to Audrey Hepburn films
and taught me the meaning of words like ‘fierce’ and ‘worthy.’
They made me understand that life should be about
things that are wonderful, things that are beautiful.
These are the men with whom I have the most in common
and they taught me more than Cosmo ever did.
They drank cup after cup of tea with me
when I was unraveling and reeling from being dumped for no reason.
They taught me that love is love
and who should be the one to judge?
We used to say that if I was a gay man
or they were straight
that we would be lovers.
But in many ways,
they have been more loving to me
than the men I loved.
When my courage failed
they showed me the power
of a good Billie Holiday tune.
They told me to do what I believed in,
that a glass of wine can fix almost anything,
that the music you listen to
is the soundtrack to your life,
that $1.25 and a sense of style
will take you anywhere in this city.
They said Everyone is a star
and everyone shines
it just may be that yours
is a little different than mine.
They taught me that everyone wants
someone to come home to,
someone to look after,
that everyone adores a tender touch,
that everyone needs someone to hold them
and say shh when they cry,
that everyone likes to talk and laugh
and cook and watch TV and kiss.
They taught me that being a loving person
means sometimes getting your heart broken.
Whether by violence or virus
I’ve lost some of my guardian angels.
Patrick was killed in Boston
and I never had the chance to say thank you.
Lee died in New York
and I never had the chance to say goodbye.
Peter didn’t want me to see him sick
so I didn’t know until after he’d gone.
I hated him for that.
I loved him for that.
I made them promise they’d be at my wedding
and they made me promise that there would be
balloons at their funerals.
And I did because they taught me
how important promises are.
But it’s not his time now
and I will not let you take him from me,
so get your hands off my brother.
(You have no right, no right in the world,
to drive through the city
breaking the wings off angels.)
He may be face down on the pavement but I’m not
and I will fight you to save his life
because every day
in so many ways
he saved mine.
Your Catfish Friend
by Richard Brautigan
If I were to live my life
in catfish forms
in scaffolds of skin and whiskers
at the bottom of a pond
and you were to come by
when the moon was shining
down into my dark home
and stand there at the edge
of my affection
and think, “It’s beautiful
here by this pond. I wish
somebody loved me,”
I’d love you and be your catfish
friend and drive such lonely
thoughts from your mind
and suddenly you would be
and ask yourself, “I wonder
if there are any catfish
in this pond? It seems like
a perfect place for them.”
Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams
I chopped down the house that you had been saving to live in next summer.
I am sorry, but it was morning, and I had nothing to do
and its wooden beams were so inviting.
We laughed at the hollyhocks together
and then I sprayed them with lye.
Forgive me. I simply do not know what I am doing.
I gave away the money that you had been saving to live on for the
next ten years.
The man who asked for it was shabby
and the firm March wind on the porch was so juicy and cold.
Last evening we went dancing and I broke your leg.
Forgive me. I was clumsy and
I wanted you here in the wards, where I am the doctor!
— Kenneth Koch
“Sorry, But It Was Beautiful”
This is just to say
sorry I took your money
and burned it.
But it looked
like the world falling apart
when it crackled and burned.
So I think it was worth it.
you can’t see the world fall apart every day.
It’s Time To Train Yourself
by Richard Brautigan
It’s time to train yourself
to sleep alone again
and it’s so fucking hard.
Long Distance II
Though my mother was already two years dead
Dad kept her slippers warming by the gas,
put hot water bottles her side of the bed
and still went to renew her transport pass.
You couldn’t just drop in. You had to phone.
He’d put you off an hour to give him time
to clear away her things and look alone
as though his still raw love were such a crime.
He couldn’t risk my blight of disbelief
though sure that very soon he’d hear her key
scrape in the rusted lock and end his grief.
He knew she’d just popped out to get the tea.
I believe life ends with death, and that is all.
You haven’t both gone shopping; just the same,
in my new black leather phone book there’s your name
and the disconnected number I still call.
This Is Just To Say - Erica-Lynn Gambino
I have just
asked you to
get out of my
For William Carlos Williams.
William Carlos Williams, “Danse Russe”
If I when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,—
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
“I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!”
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
again the yellow drawn shades,—
Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?
How to kill a living thing
- Eibhlín Nic Eochaidh
Criticize it to its face
Say how it kills the light
Traps all the rubbish
Bores you with its green
Harden your heart
Cut it down close
To the root as possible
For a week or a month
Return with an axe
Split it with one blow
Insert a stone
To keep the wound wide open
“Lies I’ve Told My 3 Year Old Recently”
Trees talk to each other at night.
All fish are named either Lorna or Jack.
Before your eyeballs fall out from watching too much TV, they get very loose.
Tiny bears live in drain pipes.
If you are very very quiet you can hear the clouds rub against the sky.
The moon and the sun had a fight a long time ago.
Everyone knows at least one secret language.
When nobody is looking, I can fly.
We are all held together by invisible threads.
Books get lonely too.
Sadness can be eaten.
I will always be there.