a poem for a queer politics

i remember the time i told you i was bisexual because
at 17 i figured that you would take the news that your son
still liked pussy better than, well, the other thing.
i’m a fucking liar.
i told you three days later, ‘mom, i’m a faggot,’ (was that it?)
and we giggled and wondered why i lied.

i remember the day you told me that you would die.
my life slowly fell apart as did your body.
that i would end up in the psych ward staring at pale ceilings
while a man with a gouged eye was carted in, wailing,
nurses clamoring about with their syringes and
antidotes to madness.

i remember when you came home after surgery.
some time after, having no breasts, no ovaries, you asked:
‘am i still a woman?’ (‘am i still pretty’)
‘always’ i sighed.
our bodies rebel in this way or that.
you told me once you often cried. that you were a monster.
but a monster portends of things to come. proudly, a monster’s son.

your cancer taught me judith butler.

i remember when you cut your hair
because chemo had taken everything else so — what the fuck?
i stood there and watched as every follicle exposed themselves like
so many raw nerves and in your eyes, so calm — that southern belle
was betrayed by a vale of tears.

i remember clinching my fists when a guy at some bar said
‘it ain’t a woman without some tits’
and and and and
i shattered a bottle on the floor
and demanded blood because that faggot needed to learn respect.
that even gay men can be vicious bigots.
that i can hate and rage and and and and do i mean well?
oh, in times like these we pick our battles
in hopes of vain victories.

‘honey, being silent changes nothing.’
and so i lashed out at a world with words and a few good deeds
because silence is its own form of cancer.

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