Is it safe to cross?

1 November 2018

At four inner-city traffic lights, councillors in Wellington, New Zealand, have replaced the “green man” figure giving pedestrians right of way with that of popular transgender identity, the late Carmen Rupe, as a tribute.

Over the other side of the road
is a bearded teenager
in a prim plaid dress
just been shopping at Best-for-less.

Cutie-pie with the fuzz
and bulging bag of fast-fashun
wants to cross, waits
for the go-ahead buzz.
No green man’s flashing
a hetero, gamete-loaded gait –
instead, volupt u o usness
teeter-totters at the cross-now,
a neon femme fatale: Carmen,
transgender activist, night-life queen.
Gone, but recently honoured by
city fathers as a traffic signal – not a
stripper’s red light, but green,
on display to say it’s okay to go,
you can make it, you own the road.

But is it really safe to cross?
Bearded teen picks at dress hem,
nervous, looks both ways,
even though it’s one way.
Carmen signals C’mon
with a sway, sway.
But the dead don’t have
car-plebs hurling
the T-word, the It slur,
or faux-soft calls hinting
at faux co-mingling.
It’s brave what Carmen’s signalling
in beehive hair and clingy gown.
But it’s still a jangled town,
just see how all the phobes
jeer when cutie dares
stop right there and pose,
busts out a Carmen pair,
points imaginary stiletto toes.

 


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