I lost my sensate home just before I turned six.
I came to live in town from way out in the sticks.
They spoke in their accents striking me as contrary.
The friends I had, in those years, were imaginary
Or rather, real to me but perhaps not to you,
Though what these friends told me was entirely true:
“If you would live in balance what you may well run
(Though that male form you have may suggest it’s no fun)
Is energy that’s mixed: both the female and male
Complete your human life. Choose the blend as the need
Presents itself to you with each moment. Don’t heed
The boys who tell you chatting with girls is no good,
For knowing girls will be of help on down the road.
You’ll understand girls best if you sense how they feel.
To do that, know your feminine aspects are real,
So live a life that draws from all sides of the cup.”
This balance I retained all the while I grew up
I gained an understanding of male and female
Much earlier than others. Though none knew me well,
They could yet see this difference between me and them
And thought I was unsure whether I was a him
Or her. So they decided all this on their own
And called me faggot, pussy, all which I’d disown
Since I had not become more attracted to males
Than females, none harked what I said to them then:
My attitude toward girls must have been quite enough
To prove my manhood lacking in all the “right” stuff;
The music I composed was yet more proof that I
Was absolutely gay, clearly not even bi.
I played the bells at church; that was the final test:
Whoever saw me do that must have told the rest.
The more I tried to let them know I wasn’t gay
The more they ridiculed me each in their own way.
The physical abuse I got left me with small
Reminders of that past, like when I took a fall
Because the guy behind me saw that he could trip
Me so I’d hit a riser; it made his sides rip
To see me back at school with my arm in a cast.
My jaw still clicks, because someone had a real blast
When he used it to practice his roundhouse punch one
Afternoon. His brother the bus driver, son
Of wealthy parents, figured he’d let us both off
And stopped for just the purpose I’m here writing of.
I wear a night guard since one calm day at the gym
When a big black guy next to me, just on a whim,
Reached out and felt me up. In return for such charm
I dealt him a sharp blow gauged to do little harm.
He turned and slammed a fist right into my gumline
And knocked some teeth loose. I nearly retched from the fine
Taste of blood in my mouth as I held my teeth clenched
To keep them in. Things might’ve got worse but he flinched
As he was grabbed at once by another black guy
Whose name was Perranoski; I didn’t dare try
To speak a word of thanks with my mouth in that shape.
Though if it weren’t for Noski, I could describe rape
These days perhaps from a first-hand perspective.
My soul may not have suffered too much from invective,
But on the other hand, for my ribs I do stretches,
And you might do them too if your rib ever fetches
A kick from some girl’s shoe on which you have just landed
With thanks, because the stairs atop which you just standed,
(Before some kid behind you gave you a hard shove)
Descend until they meet the chill sidewalk. Such love
I felt for all my classmates back in those fun times,
Let’s hope they’ll get a kick out of reading my rhymes.
Their favorite things were their psychological games,
For instance at the library, where some sweet dames
Who’d just sat by that guy who’d made me break my arm
Came grinding up against me with all of the charm
That girls can muster back in the darkened book stacks
Where I had gone naïvely to ward off attacks.
Though I can see few differences in types of flesh
That’s not an invitation for men to get fresh,
Or women, either, certainly not if their friends
Have Nazi-like intent to bring nerds to bad ends
If in some way those nerds just don’t know how to fit
The world in which they find themselves. One year I hit
Upon someone as much of an oddball as me.
At last a real live friend right there at my school. We
Would meet together the others who thought we were strange.
The fact that there were two of us could rearrange
The old familiar scene from when I was alone.
We faced jerks down together wherever we’d roam.
Too bad he stayed around for no more than a year.
He left the state — can’t say I blame him. But near
The time I went to college we got back in touch.
Turned out he’d be back, for tuition was such
A better deal for him there he’d chosen the place
That I had. We both lived in the campus ratrace.
The next year I found housing at Avery Close.
Then he moved in. We were for the first time housemates.
My notion of a friend is one who never grates
On one’s friend’s nerves without some good cause one relates.
But this guy was the opposite of all of that.
He bugged me day and night with intentions all pat,
Told me how I should drive while admitting I’m safe,
And rearranged my things though he knew it would chafe.
We nearly came to blows once a few months had passed.
Next came a girl to live with us; that didn’t last.
She slept in his room holding a knife she’d named Ben
And spent her days in Naval Reserve duties. Then,
When he’d moved out, she didn’t pay rent so that we,
The guys remaining there, had to move her for free.
I hardly understood what was meant by my friend
Who seemed to want our friendship to come to an end.
Years later, I became much more able to read,
Through meditation practices, what people need
To tell me, though they often won’t tell me in words;
And if I had a way to turn time all backwards
I’d say to him, “Hey dude could it be that you’re gay?
You needn’t worry, I don’t think that’s in the way
Of anything you’d like us to do or to say.
My love for you is friendly; you might as well know
If you took me to bed I indeed could let flow
This female side I have, if that you long to see;
Know it would not fulfill me, not entirely.
Someday I’ll find a woman — and may it be soon.
But still, I promise here by the light of the moon
I can’t reject the needs of a true friend well known
When else the world’s rejection leaves me all alone.
If this makes me a faggot then I can accept
The title, if through this our true friendship I’ve kept.”