Blood and Tears: Poems for Matthew Shepard

Overview

Blood and Tears, a Matthew Shepard anthology edited by Scott Gibson is a collection of commemorative, occasional, or topical poems written on the occasion of the tragic death of Matthew Shepard. A percentage of all profits from this book will be donated to anti-violence organizations.
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Overview

Blood and Tears, a Matthew Shepard anthology edited by Scott Gibson is a collection of commemorative, occasional, or topical poems written on the occasion of the tragic death of Matthew Shepard. A percentage of all profits from this book will be donated to anti-violence organizations.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Matthew Shepard, a gentle, petite 21-year-old student at the University of Wyoming, was found tied to a fence outside Laramie on a chilly October morning in 1998, the victim of a brutal gay bashing. His subsequent death enraged gays everywhere and forced millions of other Americans to confront the ugly realities of homophobic hate crimes. For this tribute, Gibson--a student in the Naropa Institute's Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics--has brought together distinguished writers like John Ashbery, Star Black, W.S. Merwin, and Harold Norse. The poets balance elegiac sadness with righteous anger. The best of these poems are beautifully, gravely haunting; the worst come off as saccharine or lachrymose. But despite its high quality and poignancy, this book is more appropriate for those who wish to have a personal remembrance of Matthew Shepard than for most library collections. An optional purchase for large public libraries and popular gay studies collections.--Richard Violette, Special Libs. Cataloging, Inc., Victoria, BC Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781891305153
  • Publisher: Painted Leaf Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/1999
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.45 (d)

Read an Excerpt




Chapter One


Poem for Matthew Shepard
* * *
Jaime Manrique


In the final moments
when the station wagon
pulled away, I shivered
and was thankful to feel something.
Blood glued my eyes.
I thought: the last thing
I want to remember
is not the look of hatred
in their eyes.
I breathed in the smell
of the grass that grew
before winter set in;
I heard the song
of nocturnal birds.
In my mind's eye
I saw shooting stars
the waning harvest moon
the light of dawn.
The wind swept over the plain
yanking the matorral,
a coyote howled—
perhaps a wolf ...
a field mouse scurried
in the dark.
Later, I imagined
the birds lifting off
after the planets, rising
in the silvery skies.
As the warmth of day neared
I didn't dare hope
I'd be rescued.
Then my soul began
its upward ascent
a sigh traveling to
the arms of God
where I'd find
a peace I'd never known on earth.


Taxicabs
* * *
Eileen Myles
Jonathan's
back from
the country
of Tod
and I'm
back too.


You get
out of work
on Irving
Place, I
mean everyone
at dusk
in this
long pause
and then
the green
eye


an old
game board
of lurches
andhowls


I should
be so
secure


while
I'm riding


I am.


We deliver Coors
He's dead.


Matthew
Shepard's
simply
gone


little scarecrow
with his
scarecrow
desire


left us here
to sing
his song.


In the moments before dawn,
Matthew hears a coyote cry
* * *
Michael Lassell


Is that a coyote call?
It must be late.
If I could see, I'd lift my head, but
the blood has frozen my eyes shut.
The sound always frightened me before,
the wild yelp that marries a cry
before its dying fall.
Tonight I find it more
like a song
than a howl.
It won't be long.
I'll never last
our here where
Aaron and Russell beat me
for loving men.
The coyotes know I'm going to die
and when.
They seem to care.
They know that presence is comforting;
you isolate
to make
a kill.
Still,
I, too, made the usual human mistake:
full of anger or sadness, maybe hate,
I slandered them, more for being outcast
than for their reasonable appetite.
I should have loved their bark,
my canine sisters, brothers ... twins.
The snow is so white
except for the red. And the black
tracks
that break
into a run before disappearing
into the dark.
Once again, the predator wins
by might.
I'll never be kissed
or held close to a heartbeat.
True carnivores hunt on two feet
and carry a fang in each fist.
What really kills is not
the difference between you and me,
but the difference between what
a man is and who he is told he ought
to be
by people who profit from
lies.
Lies.
The bludgeon, like the Bible, is only a prop.
Someday they'll be caught
and brought
to justice.
Perhaps I'll be missed.
I want to be.
Is it the alpha female calling
the charges in her pack?—
Afraid the men have done to them
what they have done to me:
roped me to a fence
and left me alone
to die?
Nothing in nature would believe why
even if we had the language to explain our sins
or the will to atone.
I wish I could answer back.
She seems so overwrought,
as if she needs relief.
At least I'm part of something here,
an icy moment before dawn.
Soon the sun will rise and
I can sleep.
I hope they find me alive—
I've already been devoured by those who
feast
on grief,
and my mother, weeping, will want at least
to touch the thing that was her son.
I wish she didn't need to see
what the lies have done.
If only the pain would stop,
I could die in peace.
If only the lies would stop,
we could live there, too.


2 January 1999


NO TEARS FOR QUEERS / NO FAGS IN HEAVEN
* * *
Dean Kostos
The speakers throbbed with red music.
         He will fill your mouth with laughter,
         and your lips with shouts of joy
.
"What do you want? Where can we take you?"
         He did not create a chaos.
They gunned the engine, wind
whipped black as they sped,
         And ask for the ancient paths where
         the good way lies, and walk in it
...
passing corn and wheat and barley fields
to a threshing floor:
fists pummeled his frame, fists hammered
a pistol butt into his skull,
jeers stabbed the icy air,
his face collapsing on their rage.
          O prosper the works of your hands.
Arms roped cruciform to a rail,
legs, spread-eagled, he torqued, fell
limp. While the pupil-dark sky loomed
in witness, the light of his body dimmed.
          And all of us, with unveiled eyes, seeing
          the glory of the Lord
          as though reflected in a mirror
          are being transformed into the same image
...
Breath wheezed through swollen nostrils
and lips, all identity crushed
but his name.
          Protect them, O Lord, in your name....
The title refers to slogans carried outside the church where Matthew
Shepard's funeral service was held.


WASTE NOT
* * *
Joan Larkin


We're using every bit of your death.
We're making a vise of your mouth's clenching and loosening,
an engine of your labored breathing,
a furnace of your wide-open eyes.


We've reduced you to stock, fed you to the crowd,
banked the pearl of your last anger,
stored the honey of your last smile.


Nothing's left in your mirror,
nothing's floating on your high ceiling.
We're combing pockets, turning sleeves,
shaking out bone and ash,
stripping you down to desire.


Your beloved has folded your house into his—
I'm wading the swift river, balancing on stones.


ELEGY FOR ST. MATTHEW SHEPARD
* * *
Harold Norse


    (1976-1998, martyred by criminal bigots blinded by hate)


Matthew, dear brother, sweet kid, a slip of a lad, 5'2", effeminate youth,
  your parents loved you and knew you were gay and were born that way
   like children all over the world in all countries, all times, barely visible
    in a child though predestined in puberty. Jesus never condemned you.
     But the Church hasn't heard the Good News: love is no crime. It's a force
     of attraction beyond choice or will. For this you were killed, lashed
      to a fence like a scarecrow, stripped, savagely beaten and left to die.


Crucified like Jesus who also looked like a scarecrow nailed to a cross, who
  most likely was not blue-eyed and pink-skinned with Breck-shampooed hair,
   who was also perhaps 5'2"—but awesome and wondrously gentle and holy.
    Jesus Christ didn't wear a white collar, preach sermons for hate crimes
     of violence versus the innocent. Perhaps he was always high on the
      mindblowing sacred mushroom in his saintly Essene youth. He did
       not get uptight about sex. He preached charity, decency, love.
A poor Jew born in a manger, a stable on the outskirts of Bethlehem, he taught
  that each life was sacred, more precious than gold; and although he may have
   had dirty feet, long hair, hippie sandals, he made the ultimate sacrifice for
    his merciful teachings that conquered the pagan religion of Rome. O false
    Christians, you do not love Jesus, you love to exploit him, to sell him
     for profit, get rich in his name. "No queers or dykes welcome in church!"
      You laugh and you mock as you murder Jesus, Matthew and Dr. King.
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Table of Contents

Scott Gibson Introduction xi
George Albon A Circle Lighter Than Air 3
John Ashbery At The Inn 5
Susan Baran Gravity 6
V. Barnhart Sonnet: For Matthew 8
Mark Bibbins as true of martyrs 10
Robin Blaser In Remembrance of Matthew Shepard 13
Lee Ann Brown Political Funeral in Black & White, What Can I
Do 14
Reed Bye In Memoriam Matthew Shepard 16
Rafael Campo Recognition 17
Tom Carey How It Is 19
Abigail Child Resistance 20
John Chinworth two poems: snow & french horn 23
Toria Angelyn Clark Allow Yourself To Be Touched 25
Marc Cohen Poem 27
Norma Cole By gray dampy weather 28
Alfred Corn And Then I Saw 30
Rikki Ducornet Anatomy 32
kari edwards Matthew 33
Beatrix Gates Seeking Tenderness 35
Scott Gibson Unchosen Roads 41
Peter Gizzi Caption 43
Robert Glück The Guilt of Hercules 44
John Greyson Clean Spot 45
Lauren Gudath Peter Grimes: Opera 46
Marilyn Hacker Sheltered by womanhood and middle age 48
Rachel Hadas The Fence 51
Griffin Hansbury A More Empty Wyoming or Ad astra, thinking
of Matthew Shepard 53
Paul Heiner Vigilante 56
Gerrit Henry Lament for Matthew Shepard 57
Walter Holland Laramie, Wyoming, 1998 58
Anselm Hollo from rue Wilson Monday 59
Yuri Hospodar Todd, Matthew; Matthew, Todd 60
Kathe Izzo Baby 62
Lisa Jarnot Requiem 63
Patricia Spears Jones My Matthew Shepard Poem 65
Michaela Wolf Kahn (Next) Time 67
Meg Kavanagh Spread Eagle Ghazal 69
Kevin Killian The Phantom of the Opera 70
Dean Kostos No Tears for Queers / No Fags in Heaven 74
Joanne Kyger Matthew Shepard, Election Day 75
Joan Larkin Waste Not 76
Michael Lassell In the moments before dawn, Matthew hears a
coyote cry 77
Tony Leuzzi Sonnets to Matthew Shepard 80
Ali Liebegott from The Beautifully Worthless 81
Jaime Manrique Poem for Matthew Shepard 84
Patrick Martin Where rain comes from 86
Bernadette Mayer This Is Not A Metaphor 88
Josie McKee For Matthew Shepard 89
W.S. Merwin The Fence 90
Laura Moriarty from Nude Memoir 91
Eileen Myles Taxicabs 94
Maggie Nelson For Matthew Shepard 96
Harold Norse Elegy for St. Matthew Shepard 97
Akilah Oliver dear matthew shepard 99
Kristin Prevallet No Safe City 102
Eugene Richie Like a Shell, a Flame 104
Jocelyn Saidenberg & Edmund Berrigan My Winter Coat Before
You Leave 105
Andrew Schelling For Matthew Shepard 106
Paul Schmidt Matthew Shepard 107
Maureen Seaton & Denise Duhamel Missing 109
Eleni Sikelianos Note: On Personal Freedoms 112
Linda Smukler Stations 114
Juliana Spahr blood (blows) 120
David Trinidad Pavane 122
Steve Turtell Queer 123
Jean Valentine Two Poems for Matthew Shepard 124
Anne Waldman In Memory Of His Muse 126
Rosanne Wasserman Holes in the Plot 128
Elizabeth Willis Book of Matthew 129
Carolyne Wright Leaving the Conservatory 130
Emanuel Xavier Oyá/St. Therese 132
About the Poets 135
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