A Queer Elegy

1 November 2018

straight now, your John’s a man of his word
your ex-girlfriend’s on hormones
goes by Shaun, binds their breasts; wasn’t a stretch

the bipolar came out of the blue at 32
heroin had bound like glue, swaddled shared shame
but, what’s in a name?

(at 18 Tony was an Auckland punk
died Joanne in a Brixton haircutters chair at 28 in ‘88. AIDS)
 

swimming outside flags, the blood tide nearly drowned us too
the pullback rush, the relentless undertow.
we’re Facebook friends now. we post elegies, share
photos of our lost on birthdays and death days

(bikers on K Road gang-raped Dean, 17, for looking like a girl
suicide at 39 finally freed him from the rapists’ rack)
 

in the thick of it, with the blinding bind of lovers and haters
pricking us like voodoo dolls, our lived experience lacked narrative
was pandemonium in a dungeon of distorted mirrors
making off, making out with the zeitgeist

(Zed, a gordian knot of pain and desire, sped east at 21
AIDS sucked the flesh off his sassy bones, ash at 45
his sisters insist it was cancer & cherish his quirky ways)
 

remember? we magicked up poems and pipe dreams to wrap
around our isolation like warm black cloaks.

Johnno, Shaun, you and me – we are old now
stitching new rainbow quilts from rescued remnants
train wrecks with track marks, glad of the luck
that pins us to the present, while pining for friends passed

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