Dance with The One That Brought You

Posted On May 2nd, 2012

Here’s a new poem I wrote about the night I danced with a straight man in a gay bar. It’s called “Dance With the One That Brought You, or,
My Night in a Gay Cowboy Bar in Dallas Texas.”

for Jason Carney

A redneck working on an MFA,
two gay Texans, a blonde in a miniskirt
and cowboy boots, and poet from New York City
all walk into a gay cowboy bar in Dallas.
This is not a joke.

It is the week before Christmas and the dance floor
is filled with cowboys dancing a Texas two step
and holding each other lovely and close, here
where the threat of being beaten to death
has been banished to the long drive home,
or at least the parking lot outside.
This is not a joke.

This is something I was told I had to see
because we don’t have anything like it in New York City.
It is the week before Christmas, and there is one old
jolly white-bearded cowboy in his mid seventies
dressed up to look like just like Santa Claus.
If Santa Claus ever went to a gay cowboy bar in Dallas, Texas.
Or New York City for that matter.

Neither of the gay Texans will dance with Jason,
the redneck, and I know this because I watch him
get shot down twice, both of them laughing
and holding each others’ hands a little harder
as if to say, “We will not take part in what, for you,
will no doubt be in time just a funny story.”
This is not a joke.

And of course, to waltz the floor in a gay cowboy bar
with a woman, even if she is blonde, wears a hat
like a rodeo, and rocks red lipstick like a bloody mouth—
especially for all of this—would be disrespectful.
A redneck knows this. So Jason doesn’t ask.

And it must be because I am not gay that Jason doesn’t ask
me to dance, which, under the circumstances,
seems not to be a good enough reason.
So it is I who asks him. And we take each other
in our arms and dance, as best we can,
the only two straight guys in the bar.
Or so it seems to us, which is why we laugh
while we dance, our friends at the table wishing
that between them someone had a camera.

This was long ago. And I can hear in the memory
of that laughter now other minor strains of fear,
and shame, and privilege—this is not a joke—
but the major tones are merely joy, and love.
And that’s how I remember the night Jason and I
danced in a gay cowboy bar in Dallas, Texas.

The moment of the haircut!

Posted On May 2nd, 2012


Although I asked Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz to cut off about 12″ of hair, I now wish I had donated a few more inches. After all, I went to the barber the next day and got it shaped. Why not give that hair to the American Cancer Society. In fact, why didn’t I shave my head?!