Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Upcoming Publication of a Sonnet

The Gay and Lesbian Review in Boston will publish the following sonnet in its upcoming issue where the theme is Aging. In my one-act play Turning, one character asked another character to read this poem, giving as its title, “Reinforcement of Stereotype #112” – that is, the stereotype of the “‘lonely and isolated old gay guy.” I suppose that every human – regardless of whether he or she is burdened with the adjective “homosexual” or “heterosexual” – has this moment, or an extended period, of suddenly feeling old. After the character Rick read the verse, the other character, Murray, reminded him that if you get past that moment, what follows is what Bob Dylan says in the line, “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.” I don't know if the editors of the G&LR will add the “Stereotype #112” line as a subtitle to the title, but I suggested “Turning” as a title:


You are forced into icy corsets of virtue
by the crafty generosities of younger friends;
they grant you the pure and the true –
out of the way of their quick ends.
Best to keep apart then, their old crag,
a fixed and-baked clay face above the puddle,
and keep a fairy’s secret garden; be hag
o’ the wood to them in love’s young muddle.
But, no, we’re tossed in the daily stream,
old laundry, singles in basement apartments,
on Friday nights one pink box of cream
pastry held by a string. Do all in the trolley sense
that this is the end of man-love’s dream?
Winter sunset; melting Napoleon; no pretense.

Of interest to no-one but me, I suppose, was the way the verse was written. One struggles with a form like the sonnet, and sometimes the result is creaky and forced, but, in this case, while listening to Purcell’s opera King Arthur, 45 to 90 minutes, the sonnet came out, phrase by phrase, and I don’t think I changed a word. What I cannot remember is where my mind was in between those emerging phrases; perhaps I just waited in a dream state, like a setting hen waiting for the next egg to emerge!

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