By: Elder Gideon
how mom’d rant
at the evening news more menacing
than Gorbachev’s mark of the beast
or looming mushroom skull fire
were the hordes of bare-chested men
breaching TV screens
to be perverse! she’d spit
wasn't judgment clear?
she never meant to target shoot
my opaque silhouette
blocking TV features
of fallen stars
inhaling his own ashes
I bystood dazed
in the early eighties
a boy disembodied
by his own desires
a basement swollen shut
its only window
vented bullet holes
welcomed back + in the arms of his straight ally = his best friend in
college + who drew him out + by the same word of God + they beat
swords into plowshares + their bond was shared faith + the gospel of
the dispossessed + human dignity above all authority = all in the head
until he brought his boyfriend over + & their hands rested on each other’s
knees during the prayer meeting + among other well meaning allies
– saw & were triggered by the same fear + queer children feel +
when named by the hate of common sense – left his ally exposed
– to choose between the gospel of his dispossessed queer friend
– or other allies of their well meaning prayer meeting
– his ally phoned unsure + his trembling voice spewed with all the rage
+ latent hate + fear disguised by disgust that well-meaning allies really feel
with queers = to ask his queer friend not to show such affection again
= or not return
the problem of gender is deeper than 2 mm of melanin + betrayal brings
together many well meaning men of religion + to at least agree + to the hate
of common sense + that threatens the animal sense of existence
= his ally withdrew + into the safety of the group
I descend from summer’s day breaking
Down the base of the Sierra Nevada.
Off center of the yellow line, I see a pinecone
Upright. No. It fluffs in the blasts of passing cars.
I shoulder my vehicle. Drafts of racing cars
Push hard against the froth. When the road
Is clear, I’m astonished to see this species
Of owl so far away from the Northwest.
His feathers are colors of cinnamon, nutmeg,
Caramel, cream, banded about his wings.
Thin horizontal slits over backlit eyes open
From the dark, copper face with neither panic
Nor shock. The owl’s gaze calmly settles.
I kneel and commune. I speak to him,
You’re not safe here. You must move.
Unmoved, the owl abides. We are still alone
In the middle of this highway. I must act.
I cover my fingers with hood sleeves.
I reach down slowly to his belly. His feet
Might well be crossed in a lotus posture.
I dare to murmur to this raptor, Up up.
Screech steps up. Breathe. Be.
I’m overcome with sudden grace,
The zone of no effort. From kneeling
My legs straighten gently while screech
Sits serene on my finger. We are a verb.
Turning, walking to the shoulder,
Wading through dry, knee-high grass,
To a rotten wooden fence post. I raise him
To perch and lower my arm to my side.
His gold eyes hold my eyes blue.
Then it’s time. My palms join
At my brow and then my heart
Before the Most High looking back
At me. I hold our gaze ongoing
And don’t look back.
Elder Gideon is the author of two poetry collections Gnostic Triptych and Aegis of Waves (Atmosphere Press) and co-author with Tau Malachi of Gnosis of Guadalupe (EPS Press, 2017). His poems have appeared in dozens of journals. He’s an alumnus of the 2021 Community of Writers, directed by Brenda Hillman and showing sculpture this fall with Verge Gallery’s Open Studio Tour in Sacramento. A veteran English teacher-activist and leader of a gnostic tradition, Gideon lives from metaphysical urgency. He is queer. Reach out to him @elder.gideon or email@example.com.