Roz Kaveney (rozk) wrote,
Roz Kaveney

My last post of 2009

I am off in a second to have dinner, and then go for a sound check, and then read my new poem at Bird Club. For the sake of the few people who may read this before going, I am putting the new poem behind cut tags; Bird commissioned me to write something about the link between being an sf fan and being part of the broad queer community, a subject I might never otherwise have written about.



I was eight
You were twelve
She was sixteen
It was a comic
Or a paperback
A film
Or something she saw on TV.
Things changed
In a flicker of time
A moment of strange
I knew at eight
You knew at twelve
She knew at sixteen.
Nothing was the same.

In the newsagent
Green men with many arms
Riding red plains
Blondes in green and black
Sequinned leotards
The drag that queens and superheroes share
Both could be me
If I just dared enough
Windows on a future of escape.
And paperbacks
Women staring their love
Rockets ablaze with light
However much I cried
Each night
They were hope
Seen through windows
I could press against.

Half the queers I know
Half and some more
Spent time
At what was in those racks
Liquorice, or chewing gum,
Or sherbet
Just to stand
In a queue
Near those racks
Near those covers
Near those dreams.


We descend
Through skies that are blue in different ways
Skies that are green with yellow clouds
With different stars
Strange zodiacs of light
Whose fortunes are unknown
Two moons, three rings, or endless black.

We climb
of our landing craft,
stumble on rocks
that are the same
under the foot
as every rock
tripped on before
and yet
the light of a red sun
blue moonlight
the glint of stone
is not the same
it shines like lover's eyes
across a bed
or cigarettes
across a bar or room.

Shiny and new
New people, green or red,
with tentacles
Or with too many feet.
So fucking glamorous for being there
in this new place
you'd never cut them slack
meet them out on the street

You're new to them
Their glamour
Is the glamour
they see in you
shiny and new.

And then the tests are done
it all checks out OK
you crack your helmet
take a lungful and
don't die
don't choke
don't swell up and go red
or green.

A smell
of spice and dust
orchids, brown sauce, steamed beets
cumin, charred pepper skin, and socks

A hit

in the nostrils and the brain
ten years from now
you'll breathe in
in sudden delight
and it will be just the same
no matter where you are
and you will say
that air's just like the air on Beta Five
or in that first bar
when you were young.


All mutants are queer
Knowing what you think
Knowing your hate
Watching your dreams
We walk among you,
Some unseen
Like anyone
Wanting to be real.
Some unseen
Light bounces off them
Passes through them,
Or glitters
When they throw it
Throw a rage
Broken light
Like knives
Like shapes
your death.

Beware of us
Your village mobs
Your torches, pitchforks, guns
So naff
We have the secret power
Of style
Of laughter

Queer mutant armies
Strolling through quiet streets
Some of us only come out at night
On summer evenings
We recruit
We know our own and they find us
Dance to our beat
Your mutant children
You may think to find
And kill.
But not if we can find them first
Or they find us
In half-lit mutant bars
Light enough
For us to see them
Dark enough
That you don’t know us
You don’t know them
Never will.


Came to our world
In steel and silver
Ships of death.
Resistance is useless
They said
And why would we resist?
They are our brothers
They said
If we could only know
How much they love
How they will nurture us
Change our ways
We will understand
And welcome
When we know.

They smile and steal
The ground beneath our feet
To forge their steel
To build new ships
Find other worlds
To steal.
They burn our crops
The ash is valuable
Take our dead
Our sacred mummy dead
Burn them or grind them
Smoke them or snort them
High on what’s left of souls.
Steal our children’s tongues
School them out of our songs
The paths we know.

They are scared of our smiles
Kill us from being scared.
We understand
When they explain.
And smile a while more.

One day
One night
In the shadow
We will show our knives
We will show our claws
Our teeth
In other smiles.
Our other shapes
We will sing our dreams
Sing them to death
Sing them away.
Dance in the night
Dance of blood
And dance of broken bone
A dance of sharpness
And our other shapes.

For now
We smile back at their smiles
Let them watch us dance
A dance of smiles
A dance of being robbed
Welcome to our world.


A bad time machine
That lets you go back
And walk around your life
And see the dead
your dead
And never change a thing
a single thing.

Not because
the time police will get you
if you do
they know
if you move a phone
six inches
so a dying friend
gets to call out
for help
In twenty thousand years
galaxies collide that would have missed.
There are no police
And fuck the galaxies
If I could save my friend.

But because
You would have saved them if you could
And that means every time they would have died
and that means work
hard work
running around
doing the math
Working out all the ways
they might have died if not the way they did.
Each time
you pull them
back from under cars
you have to watch
them fall under the bus
and pull them back from that
the booze, the cigarettes, the drugs
bad men, mad women
and the dark street
and their own regrets.

It means
Not having your life
it means
you don't have time to save the ones you did
the time you stuck your finger down a throat
and got the pills out
the time you yelled at nurses late at night
and so her baby did not die
have to go back and save those lives as well,
two places at once
and never cross the streams.

the bad time machine
that says it was your fault
because everything is
because you’re wrong
stupid and wrong
and selfish
the bad machine
that lies
and lies
and hates you
hates yourself

Use memory instead
go back
and look
time after time
at all your dead
and watch them young
as you get old
and see them change
and change.
They never move
You do
Relative speeds
And no regrets
Regret will never save
Regret will always kill
kill memory.
It's such a bad machine.


We grew up with so many fears
fears were the decor of my younger life
Cuba and Kennedy and polio
that crippled friends
and my own fears
that if my parents knew
my teachers knew
that I would be disowned, despised and mocked
worthless and stupid
left on the street
eye-liner running
and found, and killed
like roadside trash.

And then the other fears.

Blinded by solar flares,
brains eaten out
by zombies with their scooping paws
our blood sucked out
by Martian tentacles
our big toes chewed
by ratkings large as wolves
cockroaches large as rats
forced to speak and think
until our brains
are puree even zombies would reject,
Doubleplus ungood
Shipped off to the mines
the mines on Beta Epsilon
to choke in dust
our robot masters cannot bear
delicate robot masters.

Snorting drugs
that leave us talking to the dolls
or sipping comet wine
the Chancellor had poisoned
or changed to marmosets
chittering warnings to our younger selves
our mutant limbs
suddenly stretching giving us away
staring in madness at the gaps
between the stars, the worlds, the everythings
that we should never look on
or inhale.

When you have dreamed
your death so many times
your likely deaths
are almost homely.
been there before and coped that time
And that's the other thing
we get to dream escape
and cope with doom
if doom should come
not the distinguished thing
just one death dream that happens to be true
Drifting away through pain to galaxies

And that's the first poem in which I have begun to address Abigail's decline and death, I suppose. Just as this was the year of the Desire poems, I suspect that 2010 will be the year of the Death Suite, a project to which I am drawn but freaked by.
Tags: poetry sf abigail lgbt trans
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