If I Wrote a Poem for Obama on the 4th of July, 2010
It wouldn’t begin with hope or change or yes we can—
it would begin with the slow exhale of a breath
that’s been waiting patiently. Can you hear it moving
through the chest and out an open mouth—
a mouth that once sang Obama praises in front
of a television set on a November night, a mouth
that thought, I must remember this, this is history,
this is what my grandchildren will ask me about?
Of course, I don’t plan on having children, then again
time changes everything. At this moment oil is still
gushing into the Gulf, rushing to the top, gleaming
on the surface. A leak no one seems able to stop.
I’ve spent five years down here. A Midwestern
boy turned a Floridian man. I’m beginning to feel
attached to beaches, to water, to the smell of salt and sand.
Later today, this city of tourism will be filled with stars
and stripes, people buying fireworks, theme parks
launching thousands of dollars into the air,
only to slink back down in sparks of light and ash.
But fireworks are nothing special when you live
in Orlando, only a reminder that everything fades,
everything repeats. Forgive me for sounding bitter
and unpatriotic. I like you Obama. I like your teeth,
your soothing voice, the color of your skin.
I don’t blame you for oil, or for lack of jobs—
it’s a shitty world we’ve inherited. But as a gay man,
I remind you that I still need you, that I’m waiting,
that my patience is fleeing. So forgive me
if I don’t wear red, white, and blue, and if tonight
among the tourists, the straight families, the underpaid
workers, I feel a little like the outsider, the other—
watching a country celebrate something I don’t have: