8/25/11: Crush

This is simply a tribute to gay poets, the guy-ones. I’ll have to do a tribute to lesbian poets too, now that I think about it, there is a large plate of deliciousness there. It’s just that the past few years, these men have been blowing my mind. I probably shouldn’t put them in a pot together, perhaps ignoring how unique each one is, but on the other hand, their very incursion as gay men into contemporary poetry is a victory for all of us side-liners with our “otherness”; but even more than that, the transgressive nature of these poems by these particular gay men, does hold a substantive and integrated world-view, however differing in style they may be.

Of course there is a history of gay poets whose homoeroticism could hardly be considered hidden: Whitman and Auden and Lorca, to name a tiny few. More contemporaneously, there are, of course, Mark Doty, and Reginald Shepard, and Carl Phillips, and DA Powell. This is not an inclusive list, by any means.

But two poets that I’ve read most recently are on my mind. Right now, I am swooning over Crush, by Richard Silken. These poems are tight with emotion and violence and yet terribly tender and amazingly honest.

There are so many things I’m not allowed to tell you.
                     I touch myself, I dream.
Wearing your clothes or standing in the shower for over an hour, pretending
                    that this skin is your skin, these hands your hands,
                                     these soapy flanks.

I can’t praise this volume enough, nor could Louise Glück, who selected it and wrote the introduction.

But I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention Jee Leong Koh’s work which also has the mark of terrible honesty.

When we unbutton
our skin, our whole
body slips through,

and leaves behind
more fleshy skin
for unbuttoning,

and skinnier body
for slipping through
the shrinking hole.

The rounded life.
An onion. A mouth.

I’ll stop here to catch my breath.

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