Round Table: Galehaut (1985)

This is part of a sequence of five vignettes of Arthurian characters and dilemmas placed into historical contexts, written on commission from Bedtime Stories for the End of the World (link). For the full sequence of poems, click here (link)

For an audio file of my reading of the full sequence click here (link – note, it may autoplay)

For a podcast of myself and Momtaza Mehri discussing our poems click here (link), and for a transcript of the podcast click here (link)

Galehaut – Los Angeles – 1985

And there. In the valley of death – in the
forsaken Sodom of my people – the curse
of our salt-slicked pillars I learned that all
there is – is love – alone. And I, the luckiest
still alive to have felt this now. Drenched,
soaked in the light, him, Lance, his striking
flesh, his bitter face, his inner warmth. I
always knew myself second to none but her,
his blazing desire for Guinevere and me his
reckless poison. And I, young, eager, blooming
in his love. I blossomed from his fierceness –
these great wounds in the richest reds,
roses blotted in blood and buried deep
beneath my skin. I learned what it is to love
my brother, to nurse an endless cough
late at night, to gaze into the anxious eyes of
my friends and be a stranger. In those
yearning moments, my lungs too growing
pneumocystis, my endless pills, my Bactrim
my desire to be alive I learned that I had
only love; and that my brothers were all my
people. There, after sickness swept New York,
Fire Island, men in the fast lane, it came for us,
our saunas, our white picket houses, our sense of
desire. My loves, if this is it for our people then
please, may some man, some time farin the future
holding hands with another like him, like Lance
and I, or all our brothers, see my grassy grave
and say “there went men, like us, and love”,
or is the future barren as the present, deep
and empty, born with grace, and left by death?

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