Friday, August 10, 2007

This Tall Horseman, My Young Man of Mars

This tall horseman, my young man of Mars,
Scatters the gold dust from his hair, and takes
Me to pieces like a gun. The myth forsakes
Him slowly. Almost mortal, he shows the scars
Where medals of honor, cut-steel stars,
Pin death above the heart. But bends, but breaks
In his hand, my love, whose wrecked machinery makes
Time, the inventor, weep through a world of wars.
Guilt like a rust enamels me. I breed
A poison not this murdering youth may dare
In one drop of blood to battle. No delight
Is possible. Only at parting do we need
Each other; together, we are not there
At all. Love, I farewell you out of sight.

1 comment:

clixchix said...

What a find. The first poem posted, with its 'horseman' motif and tone of longing, really catches at the imagination. The line 'and takes me to pieces like a gun' is achingly beautiful, conjuring feelings any gay man would recognise and respond to.

It can't have been easy being gay at the time the poet was living. The biographical note suggesting that he 'found God and changed his ways' curdles the blood a little. (Well, it curdles mine!) One can only hope that for him it worked.

I was born in 1951 and grew up at a time when there were no positive gay role models. Homosexual activities were illegal. The only veiled representations of homosexual men in film and television were limp-wristed travesties or poisonous swamp queens. Even the ones I suspected were gay but didn't fit into those categories, certainly came across as tortured. (I give you Dirk Bogarde in almost anything!) Little wonder that as a young teenager I began to contemplate whether death would be the better alternative to becoming one of 'those'.

But the world moved on and I grew up. The law changed and gay men became up-front and political, vociferously challenging 'the system'. We re-invented ourselves, turning away from the stereotypes designed by straight people to mock and debilitate us.

However for many who had been born at the tail-end of the 'dark ages', all this was still ahead. Their tragedy was that they came too late to feel themselves part of the revolution. I wonder how much of the beautiful 'gay' poetry penned by men stuggling with their sexuality in difficult and hostile times, might not have emerged at all had they been accepted, understood, integrated or even celebrated. Misery can sometimes be a fantastic forge for creativity. Nevertheless, let's be glad that in enlightened societies, homosexuality alone need not now be the path it once was toward outsider status. There's been far too much loneliness, despair and self flagellation in homosexual histories. But we forget at our peril what life was like for these men. Their poetry can help us understand their struggles in a pre-'gay', anti-homosexual world. After all, it is not yet a world which is that far behind us.

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