We Are Not All Dead
We are not all dead,
the ejected, rejected, the blood infected.
Our self-claimed self-named ghettos
from the Castro to Greenwich Village
in Chicago Denver Kansas City
in Miami Dallas Phoenix L.A.
in Seattle Minneapolis Provincetown
New Town, Boy’s Town, Our town
Our ghettos were then renovated,
annotated by replacements
straight and forgetful.
The boys from the 80s.
White boys stacked in cities,
brothers dancing on the downlow,
farm kids who fled for urban freedom,
cowboys & rancheros deep in the West,
Puerto Rican kids in shadows under bridges
where people marched
with bloodied signs for battered souls.
The boys along boundaries
of north and south
boundaries lined by city and suburb
boundaries just outside acceptance and society.
by parents and grandparents,
some who knew and held us,
some who turned away
left us to die alone.
Our dead piled up, rose up,
proselytized to a government ignoring us.
Our disease unspoken by leaders
who turned their backs, blamed Haiti
as if we all were dying by voodoo.
Haitian crypto-spells burned faggots to the ground.
We bled an invocation
to a culture lost to governmental equivocation.
Our bloodied souls rose
above the death wave
and received it only when
the White of whites Ryan
died early and straightened our disease.
Now over a score later, manic preachers
with psalms of hate, still.
We defy your hatred,
your fear-mongering Christian terrorism.
We are not all dead.
I was a faceless son hiding behind distant conversations.
Constant coming outs were eclipsed by
reunions of lies. Coverups became
a life more real than what I lived,
my creed one of what could have been.
It was not my idea in the first place.
For all of you I spent years
being a person I didn’t know,
followed him with darkened shame
because I could not be some dis eased being
I did not create myself.
Now the sudden mindfuck of time passage
startles me from stillness. I stand mortal,
a half-century lived,
much longer than I imagined possible.
Fear’s wasted time covers my feet.
I call to those gone, pushed from presence,
carpeting the past behind me.
I uncover their scattered history
so they do not disappear unheard
or worse, unremembered.
I pull them out from within,
their pyre everburning,
to a place of falling present.
I create a shrine of salvation in wordsmouth phrases:
myths, legends and lies
all truths and real fictions
from nevermore to alwayswill.
Thoughts, loves and losses from faraway places
and long ago wantingreals
will phoenixrise, become tides of stories
carried on bloodied pieces of soul.
Their souls, my soul, our souls.
Tales for telling, spaces for filling,
minds for storing, pages for sharing.
Repair repent repair repent repair repent.
It was a rape of time where there was no god
only blackness of non-being.
We need the discourses of histories past
steered back out from memory into the here.
We need to be the truth to us now.
We need the adventure of being true
to a sky filled with the dead
who beckonplead their stories
be told and told and retold
into truths of voices praying
histories herstories ourstories
all stories of us ignored.
We are not all dead.
We live in the cum stains of youth
past and future.
We live in the future of gay
not yet born.
We live in those moments of discovered truths
like unnerving hardons
unexpected and all-knowing.
We live in houses plain and glowing
in their ordinaryness.
We live in the now
of plaintive girls longing for queerpanionship
of boys with loves they cannot explain,
of transkids who smackdown on sidestreets
for their discarded friends warring against
a life of slang and indifference.
We live in the lives of men who see
a truth they finally dare to speak.
We live within and under the colors of skin,
Beyond boundaries of money and class
We live in suburbs of stamped out cookie-cutter sameness,
We live in lofts, cabins, farmhouses and condos.
We live in sexting teenagers thumbnail pics.
We live in memories not yet made,
pasts not yet created,
in Christian boys and Catholic girls
in Mormon kids and Jewish teens
playing along to a point.
We live behind burkas, beneath turbans
behind oppression, beneath threats of death
playing along to survive another day.
We are in school rooms learning
in locker rooms wanting, in city buses needing
in churches imagining, in workplaces dreaming,
laughing marching shouting fucking demanding
changing fighting loving debating
mutating creating orgasming
We are not all dead.
Hank Henderson is a writer, curator, propagator, fabulist, seeker and homo about town. He curates the long-running monthly LGBTQ reading series homo-centric (www.homo-centric.com). He has read his work in bookstores & coffeehouses all over L.A. His solo show Greetings From the Fugue State premiered at Highway’s queer performance festival BEHOLD. His work has also been seen as part of the West Hollywood’s One City, One Pride Festival and INSTALL: WeHo. Hank likes kittens, rainbows, walks on the beach, holding hands & has a forever crush on an artist model (and probable street whore) who has been dead for over 400 years.
“We Are Not All Dead” was performed as a spoken word piece as part of InstallWeHo at West Hollywood’s LGBTQ Arts Festival.