Denise Levertov writes, in 1965, on John Wieners’ poems: “The things various confessional poets describe have happened to him too – drug addiction, the pain & loneliness of homosexual love, the mental breakdown …” This is 50 years ago – I’ve never read John Wieners so I can’t vouch for his content but I trust Levertov is correct. His poetry is out-of-print so I ‘borrowed’ some of his poems from the Poetry Foundation website.


 chilly loneliness 1

I’m not a ‘confessional poet’ even though I often write about my life, my childhood and sexuality. I don’t think of it as confessing – confession, to me, involves revealing the hidden sins, shames. I may have regrets but no shame about my past and nothing worth hiding.

I read this review of hers & think how much & how little things have changed. What she says saddens me – in 1965 it seemed homosexual love could only exist in an atmosphere of pain & loneliness – queers in novels had to suffer or they weren’t considered realistic.


chilly loneliness 2

There’s also a sense that without sufficient, credible pain & suffering, writing lacks the emotional depth to be taken seriously – even Wieners says in The Acts of Youth ‘But the formula all great art is made of pain and suffering.’ Which lets me off the hook, whew, as I haven’t suffered enough, nor seek to, to create great art. It’s enough to create art period.


chilly loneliness 3

I also know that sexuality has nothing to with ‘drug addiction, the pain & loneliness of …. love.’



I have no memories to repress

sure I have moments I’d like to forget

like the time he ended things with an email

saying he was no longer in the mood

I can’t forget that

I don’t want need to repress it

it’s one of those things that happen in life

I want it never to have happened

or to have been the one to send that message

it’s not that my past

is bereft of events

or that I’m in denial

I was spared

simple as that

the only abuse I experienced

was from a culture

of scapegoating

you know

lets pick on the fag

so we don’t have to deal with our own shit

so that we don’t have to think

through the nature of sexuality

because we’re the normal hetero majority

the abuse that comes

when it assumed

bullying is the way

to teach boys to become men

by defending themselves

that’s not a memory I’ve repressed

not that I can still see their faces

but I can hear those words

feel those shoves in high-school corridors

I have no memories to repress

but that doesn’t make

my life any less value

any less authentic

than that of those who have to unpack

those harrow moments of their lives

don’t dimiss me

because I haven’t suffered enough

to earn your respect

besides I’m too busy

being unrepressed


Loyalist Workshop is the real deal


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