Role Models #2
I met him in a hostel in Madrid. He didn’t initially catch my eye — amongst people of all ages and backgrounds I wasn’t too pressed to talk to the fellow San Franciscan. But over multiple days, multiple nights, multiple experiences of watching everyone around me get drunk in the common area, I started to notice more.
The way he tried to woo the two young Italian women with his language skills. The way he danced, a little side to side, the red label scotch he kept away in his dorm room sloshing against the walls of his solo cup. He was older, and used this to justify that he didn’t quite understand how “my generation” used the word queer. He was an old fashioned, traditional gay man, I guess.
I invited him along to an english-language poetry open circle — that’s how I was making friends while traveling. I never considered any of my work “poetry” per se, but I loved reading aloud: the performance of it, the ways in which something vulnerable could be shared and how that could lead to a different kind of connection amongst strangers, some of whom had become friends.
He declined the invite, and later indicated that he was a poet. I came to understand the word had heft to it, for him. Not everyone was a poet. He had trained amongst the greats in San Francisco: he spun for me names of deacons, of movements, names I should have known, supposedly, if I was to study the great art.
I just wanted to share my work. He read me a piece of his, which was fun and complex. I think I’m still chewing on it. I read him something of mine, something I had been proud to share in the various spaces I was exploring. It was vulnerable, raw, and meant something to me. Afterwards, he said “It’s got a lot of I” and then turned the conversation to my sexuality.
I do, in fact, write with the word I a lot.
I didn’t write or read poetry for 6 months, which is sad because I don’t even remember his name.
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