Waking up 48 hours ago to see and read the words "50 Dead in Orlando Gay Nightclub,' my whole being blew out like a flame. I just stared at my wife across the dining room table, who then began sobbing hysterically. I walked over and held her tight, trying to bring comfort to her shaking body, but I was still a flame blewn out, still a ghost with eyes and mouth, who barely knew its name. Then after sitting back down the words of the poet Wallace Stevens came to me, "Men die daily for lack of what is found there."
He was talking about POETRY, being the real news, the way we have access to LIFE below the surface, where ones passion for life or hatred of life is translated in a way back to the mind from that poor little muscle of the heart. What if Omar, the killer, had read or written poetry instead of buying guns to act out his rage? Would there have been 50 people right now, who still had a PULSE beating in their wrists, who could still laugh and dance away the darkness, and read a poem in their lover's arms. Then minuts later I am walking out through the sunroom of our house where there are big beautiful planters of flowers, all radiating color, all bathing in the light, and I stopped, as tears ran down my face,
THEY WILL NEVER SEE FLOWERS AGAIN, and what can I do, what can I say, how can I NEVER FORGET!!
To honor them, in all of their GLORIOUS GOODNESS AND BEAUTY, I offer this poem I wrote years ago, in tribute to another tribe of the dead, taken from us by AIDS, and published in Rattle Magazine.
WE ARE ALL FIRE ISLAND BOYS, WE ARE ALL ORLANDO,,,,,
The Fire Island Boys
Warhol wasn’t the only one
who loved those Fire Island boys;
marble statues cloaked in sand,
whipped by pleasure’s summers storms.
Caution fainted on a thousand zippers,
a thousand eyes and tongues. There
was no such thing as a stranger’s bed.
Every mattress played the same song;
Love as if loving makes you immortal,
carving a valley of light through the shame;
the crippling years of closet-shaped posture,
breaking the spirit’s spine.
Those were the days of aquatic ecstasy:
steam baths swirling with deep sea divers
trading their handfuls of pearls, risking
their lives in the dangerous caves of
some other man who had to be entered
to prove how good, how beautiful he was,
even if only for an hour. If I could weep
as loud as they laughed and rage as hard
as they loved, maybe the young wouldn’t die
so fast; alone, on the edge of a viral abyss
wailing at the red autumn moon; God waking up
to the sound of his sons, washing the sand from their eyes.