Poem 185 ± December 6, 2015

Miguel M. Morales

you were my first gay friends
you men wearing black leather jackets
and your activist drag.

you taught this timid brown boy
to yell, to scream, to rage
at our killers who invoked
morality and cited nonexistent
policies conjured on the spot
to keep us from exposing them as

you showed me how
our voices could stop traffic, how
our voices could upend the system, how
our voices could save lives.

you taught me how
to find this voice
this voice.

you taught me about my queer body
even as yours were under attack.
Mark Cheney, you bald-headed,
bad-assed, muther-fucker.
you filled a vial with your positive blood,
smashed it against the
city council chamber doors
to protest AIDS budget cuts.
they quickly arrested you because
your blood was a deadly weapon.

after my first arrest,
you took a button
off your jacket that read:
and pinned it to my shirt.

I wish you were here
to teach me how
to be old.
How to wear my
gray and my wrinkles
with the same pride
as you wore your black shirt
with the pink triangle


Miguel Morales1Miguel M. Morales’s work appears in Duende, Pilgrimage Magazine and Raspa Magazine, as well as in the anthologies Hibernation and Other Poems by Bear Bards (Bear Bones Books, 2014), edited by Ron J. Suresha; From Macho to Mariposa: New Gay Latino Fiction (Tincture, 2011), edited by Charles Rice-Gonzalez and Charles VazquezCuentos del Centro: Stories from the Latino Heartland (Scapegoat Press, 2009), edited by Latino Writers Collective; and Primera Página: Poetry from the Latino Heartland (Scapegoat Press, 2008), edited by Latino Writers Collective. His reviews have appeared in Lambda Literary Review and Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review. Miguel is a Lambda Literary Fellow, a member of the Macondo Workshop at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in San Antonio, and a VONA/Voices alumnus. As a journalist, Miguel earned numerous honors including the Society of Professional Journalists’ First Amendment Award. He lives in Olathe, Kansas, where he is a Library Information Specialist at Johnson County Community College and serves as the president of the Latino Writers Collective.

This poem is not previously published.