My First Ten Plague Years: 1990
What is ever truly without a breath of foreshadow?
What do we not seek even as we flee?
No innocent victims here.
I know the consequences.
Here’s my head on the chopping block—
I come buckets over that axe head, executioner’s blade.
I want this virus, taint, stain, mark,
scarlet letter, pink triangle.
I want my membership card, the waiting to be over,
proof to show the world—Yes I am.
To wear that badge of honor like a radioactive tag in my blood,
invitation, proposal, corsage.
To bleed my membership in the tribe,
marked, branded, identified, accepted,
a known associate, believed.
This is not a phase, not about shy, awkward, a late bloomer.
This is down on my knees, I pray to the god of sodomites.
This infection is triumphant,
like dying for my country, the shema on my lips—
Hear, Oh Israel, I suck dick, I get fucked!
Michael Broder is the author of This Life Now (A Midsummer Night’s Press, 2014), a finalist for the 2015 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Assaracus, BLOOM, Columbia Poetry Review, Court Green, Painted Bride Quarterly, and other journals. He lives in Brooklyn with his husband, the poet Jason Schneiderman, and a backyard colony of feral cats.
This poem originally appeared in This New Breed: Gents, Bad Boys and Barbarians 2 (Windstorm Creative, 2004), edited by Rudy Kikel.