July 4

This first poem was actually written by my girlfriend. Following is my account of the same.

You don’t think I’m scared
You write poems about my perfection
About my untouched simplicity
You say you’re scared
Scared of the things that could come between us
Scared of what we may one day become
I’m not scared
Not of you, not of me
Not of the what-ifs that may dissolve our love someday
Not of anything coming between us
But I am
I am scared for us
I’m scared for us everyday
But my fears are different than yours
Mine aren’t of us, but of others
Of alcohol, testosterone, and closed minds
Of dirty looks, insults, and confrontations
Of attacks, broken bones, and broken souls
You are the surest thing I’ve ever known
I don’t fear our demise, the end of an “us”
For I know the strength and conviction of my love
And every day you show me yours
But I do fear the world
I fear the wrong judge being a witness to our love
His conviction of our “sins” and his own need to punish
Small towns breed small minds
Small minds are quick to destroy
It is the thought of that destruction
That is my fear
So I let go of your hand
I scan the crowds, the smell of liquor strong
I wonder if anyone is watching us
I wonder if anyone can just tell
I wonder if anyone is the guy your co-worker punched
And I realize I don’t even notice the fireworks anymore
Or your eyes staring holes into me, confused by the silence
And suddenly I feel the tears pricking my eyes
I wanted a magical night under the fireworks
But I’m too scared to hold your hand
You know something’s wrong
You ask, and stare, and reassert your love
But how can I tell you?
I, with my out and proud stance
With my “screaming gay” shirts
With my arsenal of lgbt poems
The lines burned into my memory
Ready to remind me to be strong
To face the world head-on
To hold your hand in the face of any oppression
“And we were – from the beginning
Living in towns that frowned at our hand-holding
Folding up their stares like hate notes into our pockets
So we could pretend they weren’t there
You said, ‘Fear is only a verb if you let it be.
Don’t you dare let go of my hand.'”
But I did
And I want nothing more than to fall into your embrace
To shield me from all that’s so very wrong in this world
But I can’t
So I stand there
Muttering some excuse about my back
Which does hurt like hell
But not half as bad as my heart
Eventually you grab my hand and pull me through the crowds
I keep my head down, my heart racing in my chest
It’s not long before I drop your hand again
Filing behind you as we pass families in their yards
Hoping they don’t give us a second glance
But before we make it to your car, you veer off the sidewalk
We end up on a small bench, all alone
The fireworks exploding over the small patch of trees in front of us
And you grab my face, and kiss me
A kiss under the fireworks
Just like I wanted
You always did know how to make everything romantic and perfect
And all I can do is hope that my tears mix with my sweat before you realize I’m crying
Because I’m so far gone in my head
That I can’t even fully appreciate
This picture perfect, amazing moment
Of being here, with you
So I spent the night holding you as tightly as I could
Writing these lines in my head
Trying to explain what I couldn’t say aloud
Because I am scared
I’m scared to lose you to someone’s ignorance
To someone’s bigotry
To someone’s hatred
You always ask me, how people can be so hateful
How they could hate us for our love
I do my best, to reassure you
But really? I don’t know
I don’t know why we live in a world where I’m so scared to hold your hand
But we do
And I am
And I can’t even begin to tell you what a failure I feel like.

My account:

People pulse around the statue of an infantryman on a hot July night.
There are concession stands and children’s games, a dunk tank.
You and I stand side by side, swallowing our fear like gulps of air as the heat takes its toll.
This is what freedom feels like.
I hold my heart in my hands, unsure if I dare attach it to my sleeve or hide it in my pocket.
We are lost in a crowd of children and their keepers;
I look to your eyes and whisper a question you can’t understand, won’t understand.
The fireworks shoot through the sky and rain color on the town.
We are lost in a moment not our own, the town throbbing as we stand stock-still.
I know what you know, what we hope they don’t know, as their ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ sustain them.

We are not free of judgment, of hatred, of intolerance, of rude words spit between the teeth of ignorance. We are not free of the danger that seems to be bred, as if one generation can infect the next.

We are not free.
I stare at the fireworks, significance dripping from the burst of blue like tears;
with a solemn heart, I intertwine my fingers with your own and lead you away.
We turn our backs on the celebration of a freedom that isn’t familiar, the music fading…
“Here in small town USA.”

July 4

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