Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Looking For My GWASP Past

Upon reading Richard Blanco, President Obama’s Second Inaugural Poet, and listening to the President’s Second Inaugural address, I (once again) do something more than visual art and my art.  The following "prosetry" certainly isn't as good as Blanco's.  Never the less... *

 Gay Dictionary Series: "FAG"(8" x 8") mixed media distressed paint (the painting seemed appropriate to the poem.)

Barack Obama said...

"We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth."

The Prosetry:  Looking For My GWASP Past

It doesn’t mater that I’m quintessential GWASP (Gay White Anglo Saxon Protestant).
It doesn’t mater that my grandmother’s ancestors arrived in Philadelphia in 1683.
It doesn’t mater that the Boston Brahmin relatives don’t know me.
It doesn’t mater that my mother’s father lost everything in the great depression –
It doesn’t mater that my father’s mother was one-time-removed from the House of Orange.
It doesn't matter because (Like a soap opera) Dad’s parents married against parent's wishes and left Holland.
It does mater that I never got to know either of them.


I do have memories of a wondrous childhood with loving parents 
Of whom I too am extremely proud.
A tiny cottage on a crystal clear pond, kerosene lamps, outhouse, 
Water pump at the kitchen sink, fresh caught trout for breakfast, 
Blue berries picked from the rowboat for lunch –
And our (by today’s standards) small 1939 World’s Fair dream house to contrast.

I remember sitting on my crippled grandfather’s lap 
As he carved the new wooden-match-stick gun for my broken toy soldier -
Living with my Dad in a little silver trailer while he 
Fought to bring his only love back from the brink.  
And, seeing my mother for the first time in a year -
I thought she lived in that magical Friends Hospital garden.

I remember gasping for breath, delirious childhood dreams of death, and twice since.
Nothingness, blacker than black and empty with a 
Distant eyeless light and a voice that was not a voice 
I know the exact words that were not words
Sending me back saying 
"There are so many things you must do."
Though these "things" the commonplace
Going and coming, doing and sometimes not doing
The diurnal course of an ordinary life. 

I remember my petit grandmother made physically small by childhood illness
How she filled our house with love and light, a gift
For everything and everyone because of Jesus' new word,
And that morning in 1960 as I rushed from the house, turned back
As Sarah Harriet held out the forgotten homework -
How did I know that our goodbye was the last. 

I remember the sunlight-splashed window image on the kitchen floor 
As I sat in the highchair watching mother make WWII molasses cookies.
And amazed by wooden-spoon-stired deepest orange whirling streaks
Turned pale yellow in that white margarine while I,
No older than two, sat soaped-up in the kitchen-sink-bath 
Looking out the window at the backyard –
The woods, and Norma Jean (a 4 year-old) 
Tethered to the close line on a leash next door.
In contrast, my childhood rich with love, 
“Bambi” and my electric scissors, illness-shattered,
But held together by parents who refused to give up.

So, It doesn’t mater that I am GWASP
Because my mother was adopted by her Brahmin family
From Scotch-Canadian ancestors of equal but other nation historicity.
It doesn’t mater that I am GWASP
Because my fathers’ parents fled class division and immigrated to America.
It doesn’t mater that I am GWASP
Because we all came here from somewhere else.
It doesn’t mater that I am GWASP
Because I am a unique history among many varied histories.
And, because our individual histories make us all strong.
It doesn’t mater that I am GWASP
Because of Seneca Falls, Selma, Stonewall, King, and now Obama.

*  Here is the link  for Richard Blanco's Inaugural poem,  One Today on the White House Website.


Will said...

John, I am SO glad I found your blog back when I did! When I bought my house in Boston an older Boston neighborhood in 1772, the basement was filled with the unwanted items of the previous owners' several decades there. They included a couple of boxes of margarine dye capsules, not wanted but saved for some reason. Your mentioning the dye gave me a sudden clear flash of memory of what that basement looked like when I first saw it!

Kittredge Cherry said...

Wow, you’ve reached a new level of depth with this image and text! This and the pink triangle are my favorites. I’m here visiting your blog as I prepare to post your pink triangle tomorrow for International Holocaust Remembrance Day. I’ll let you know when it is posted.

I have a suggestion for another addition to your Gay Dictionary Series: Sodomite. This would allow you to bring together gay and religious themes. The definition of the “sin of Sodom” has changed over the centuries from inhospitality to heresy to today’s (mis)understanding of it as homosexuality.