January 12, 2015

Doug Paul Case

LOVE LETTER TO ARGENTA PERÓN

Lady, I don’t know

shit about small-town,
low-budget drag culture—

rainbow frills superglued

over your hips, tucked
into matte black spandex—

but when you jumped

onto that table, belting
“King Jesus”

like you meant it,

like the world—
every electric one

of us—meant to deliver

ourselves to the Lord
Almighty Himself,

but—what?—forgot

and somehow ended up
here—the only gay bar

in Bloomington, Indiana—

I quaked.
I hollered as everyone

was, as everyone

who’d never known
the courage of a man

in a dress wants

to know that, yes—
finally—here, like everywhere,

is a place to lift your head

to prayer’s elation,
to the everlasting grace

three Long Islands and a man

simply cannot provide.
Mama, when my lungs gave

out—finally—

after your bow, all
I wanted was for you

to hold me

tighter than a priest
ever has, tighter

than the boy who left me

for the bartender
at the place across town

with the cyborg taxidermy

deer heads. All
I wanted was to know

my own breath

again, to know it
can grow stable—organically

or by whatever light

you’ve seen—
to know how.

from Rattle #45, Fall 2014
Tribute to Poets of Faith

[download audio]

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Doug Paul Case: “Faith for me often operates as a series of surprises, of moments you weren’t expecting to be reminded of God’s existence and love. One of those moments came a few months ago during a drag performance, which inspired this poem.” (website)