Poem by Anon
Illustration by Polly Bradford-Corris
My fingers push my hair across
Climbing to the swap
An introvert, a listener
You notice me at once.
I’m fined for some unusual acts,
And yet the crowd sees not
For years of it, in parties, toilets
Or empty homes and flats:
Yet all I can show for it
Is that odd glance.
The swap is done, we pair ourselves
To likely, flirty mates.
But I’m still in the in-between
As I don’t hunt in public.
Then it begins, the secret signals
I smile along with them.
We brush our shoulders, arms and fix
That lasting eye-contact.
By morning kissing, I leave theirs,
Seeing some mates at lectures.
We’d danced and drunk then headed home
But feast is worse than hunt.
If there exists a world of papers,
Facebook, politics, celebs
Reacting to our secret hunts
They’d give an odd glance.
‘How can an introvert come out?’
Misses the bloody point.
Life is not self-publication:
Shining that world’s gaze into parts of yourself
others lack so they can prod or respect.
Self-fulfilment needs only one person’s hope
love, however volatile, needs only two.
three’s a crowd.
the world’s a deafening, appropriating rabble.
Fearing that world
I stripped myself of empathy
For them those public queers
The tokened, labelled, cast-aside
The out or outed heroes.
I felt no movement, momentum
Or pride for mass campaigns
My only goal was dignity
‘I represent myself.’
‘Congratulations, marching crowds
You bask in definition
For sake of warming up the shade
Anonymity is razed.
‘In the ashes of the shelter
Consider now what’s lost
The versatile chance to be
Anyone to all.
‘I’d rather name it hub than closet
We welcome people in.
Rather than stepping out and calling
We share ourselves in private.
‘Pandora’s grief is locked away
In a shelter of friends.
With secret backstage craft and sleight
I live and laugh and love.’
I took each one – by the hand
We wandered to my closet
A dozen first times with different ones and
College my bordello.
Yet you I guided further in
Deep, past orientation
The more you think they will fit there
To your heart’s dreams guide them
The closer they come to your heart
The worse the exit wound
I’m still here, tidying up
Tissues, memories, marching
Introverts tell themselves:
Conceal the things that bring you pleasure
For they are who you are
Dare not exhibit those things you love
Or people will define you.
The odd glance gazes right back within
And snap, the smile says,
But love is not a ‘snap’ moment
For love builds without breaking
The way out
We could have left then, hand in hand
Stood with the public gays.
But shady sex satisfied you
When I at last was ready
to step out.
I told my friends in preparation
Fuck! I told my dog,
We shared enough I could have posted:
This is the one I love.
Not for their gender
Not for the sex
But for this love
That dares to speak its name
That this could prove to all queer teens
Patience! It is true
There truly is, and grows in darkness
A love compatible.
I won’t, I can’t come out until
That epiphany of hope
For we love people, not their genders
And that’s what guides our march.