Thursday, October 16, 2014

A poem from Helen Townsend

How We Know Things
by Helen Townsend

It is strange to see the sky dismantled
and lowered toward the ground.
Pieces of fictional sky in the real sky,
each billboard chunk hangs from a cord.
As I imagine a blue topaz dangling
from the thinnest of white gold chains,
that’s when I make eye contact with you
And I wonder
are eyes eyes
Yours like green glass held up to the sun
Perhaps you see a green sea of milk,
a turtle floating there with a universe on its back

is grief grief
Did you howl
in the corner of the orchard
the day you understood divorce
means Daddy is leaving
Like I did in the shower
the day I left my Dad’s
prostate-ridden body in a bed
someone would too quickly clean
for another old man to die in

is wonder wonder
Did you delight in the exquisite
taste of a pumpernickel bagel
the day after your first time with love
and are you convinced
this new space in your body
is big enough to hold many worlds,
to carry truth everybody can see

Bio: Helen Townsend lives in Indianapolis. “One of my favorite things is sitting down to write or revise, and when I look at the clock, hours have gone by. Everyone who writes or makes art or has a great conversation has experienced that. It feels like a glimpse of eternity.”

Friday, October 10, 2014

My Big Fat Gay Marriage Issue, Resolved

by Bryn Douglas Marlow

            The minister signed our marriage certificate with a flourish, then said, “One of you needs to sign here as ‘husband’ and one over here as ‘wife.’” It was 2005. Dave and I were wed in Canada on our ninth anniversary as a couple, soon after Ontario legalized same-sex marriage—so soon that gender-neutral forms were not yet available.
            When we returned to the U.S. our marital status lodged in the Twilight Zone. It’s still there. We believe we’re married. A whole vast country north of us believes we’re married. But what happens in Canada stays in Canada. According to those with saying power, Dave is married to nobody. Guess what that makes me.
            Being nobody wears on a person. Researchers have long documented the negative effects of the stigma of homosexuality on gay people. Recent studies show that residing in a U.S. state that outlaws same-sex marriage has a direct, adverse effect on the mental health of lesbians and gay men.
            It makes me sick to live in Indiana in a marital state of perpetual confusion. Here’s my marital history: Not married, 23 years. Married, 14 years. Not married, seven years. Married, but not according to my state or federal government, nine years. Married and recognized as such by the state, 36 hours. Back to married-but-not-married, two months, followed by 10 days of being married. Then back to yes-but-no, then over to yes-but-not-really, not until the Supreme Court says it’s okay. (Did you follow that?)
            In June a federal judge ruled Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. As gay couples lined up to obtain marriage licenses, Dave and I marveled. We could sip coffee at our own kitchen table as a bona fide married couple. For all of three days. The court ruling was stayed, pending appeal. For us, it was back to life in limbo.
            Our summer vacation offered a breath of fresh air. We spent 10 consecutive days touring several states and two provinces where marriage equality is the law of the land. “This is the longest we’ve been married since we got hitched,” Dave said.
            Toward the end of our trip we visited Niagara Falls, took in the view from the Canadian side, along with a thousand or more other spectators. So much water rushing over the brink made me have to pee. When I returned from the restroom I soon spotted Dave among the crowd. It’s not all that difficult to recognize someone you care about.
            At the same time it’s easy to dismiss those you refuse to see. Experience has taught me this. My three children have severed contact with me over my having come out gay. As has my brother. As have former friends and fellow church members. No place at the table for the likes of me.     
            Where am I welcome? Life keeps me guessing. This past weekend I attended a college class reunion. I almost didn’t show up. I often encounter judgment and rejection from people who knew me before I came out of the closet. I feared more of the same should my classmates learn I am gay. I tested the waters. The first time a fellow alumnus asked about my spouse, I mentioned Dave by name. I was peppered with questions, taken to task for believing homosexuality cannot be changed, and charged with a lack of religious faith. Sheesh. Thereafter I mostly dodged questions about marriage and family. I avoided some conversations altogether. I shut down, hung back, withdrew. I was present but not present—off in limbo land again. This is familiar territory; I check in there frequently to visit my marital status.
            As you know, the federal court of appeals ruled against Indiana’s gay marriage ban. The state has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. But I’ve been thinking: Dave and I could settle the matter now. As our state government is so antsy about keeping marriage between a husband and wife, we should send the folks in Indianapolis a copy of our Canadian marriage license. It’s there in black and white: on March 12, 2005, Dave took me to be his lawfully wedded wife.

Bryn Marlow (gayfeather, writes and raises chickens on a wooded 1930s farmstead in east central Indiana. His writing has appeared in The Sun, Utne Reader, White Crane Journal, Flying Island, The Community Letter and various anthologies.

Monday, October 6, 2014

A poem from Helen Townsend

Dusting Antiques the Day We Buried You
by Helen Townsend

          “Death is the opposite of time.” --Deng Ming-Dao

I wish
instead of laying you in a hole
we could tuck you into this
tall-as-a-man, weight-driven
German-designed clock.

Eight copper alloy layers
like a cake reserved for grand events
the middle tiers hold silver doors and dancers
enter, exit, twirl on the hour, each like a moon
flung around a single, familied earth.

If I knew alchemy
I could haul you from that pine bed
cast you to handheld size, tune you
to metal clockwork, watch you keep
the time as you go on defying it.

Bio: Helen Townsend lives in Indianapolis. “One of my favorite things is sitting down to write or revise, and when I look at the clock, hours have gone by. Everyone who writes or makes art or has a great conversation has experienced that. It feels like a glimpse of eternity.”

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sphinx the Hunter, a tale of discovery

By Robin Lovelace

I have a black cat named Sphinx. Actually, she is Antoine’s cat. But Sphinx still lives here, Antoine does not.  A three year marriage and I loved Antoine, truly loved him, but he didn’t believe me. He said I couldn’t really love him . . . or anybody else for that matter.
I met Antoine when I needed a lawyer to defend me from a hit and run charge. Yes I was guilty. Yes I hit someone and left the scene. Only because I was late for work and I didn’t need an arrest on my record and I sure didn’t need the insurance problems. Later on, we discovered the guy I hit was drunk. He was riding a moped. Swerved out in the street before I could push on the brakes and I had no previous record. The drunken moped driver lived but had to be in a wheelchair. Actually, it worked out pretty good for him. He didn’t die and he was eligible for disability checks so he could sit in his little house and drink up the rest of his little life. I got six months suspended and had to pay a thousand dollar fine.
Last spring, Antoine met someone else. A fat girl that was three years older than him, with frizzy, brown hair. He didn’t tell me about her, ever. No, he said he was working out at the gym when he was gone so much and I found a restaurant receipt in his jacket pocket. After that, I followed him. I never mentioned it, never confronted Antoine, never brought it up to anyone.