by Tom Young
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about the author: Tom Young died of complications due to AIDS in February, 1989. He was a sporadic editor but constant contributor to the Review, in poetry, line drawings, cartoons and lively participation at those long, hot meetings when we would decide what was going in the next issue. Tom's friendship with James White gave the Review a connection to its namesake. When I type or read this poem I can hear his slightly-east-of-midwest accent and friendly nonchalance again. -gcb
>The Best of THE JAMES WHITE REVIEW
- He's about fourteen, sittin on the bus, the front side seat,
his clear sad eyes hung down on white shoes,
he's grown about ten inches in the last year,
so frail ___ elegant in his jean jacket
25 rock 'n roll buttons jumpin
He's lookin at me ___ then lookin down
movin his head like he's stretchin a kink out of his neck.
We get off the bus together ___ go down the same street
he looks at me again ___ I think I see a smile
he starts talkin to me ___ real eager
"You go to gay bars?"
I say, "Yeah, I do."
I want to talk ___ I want to talk to you ___ I want to talk.
I'm breathin out the fear of 2000 years
how word got twisted to say there's somethin you can't do
and how you think it's just love.
I know you want somebody to feel how pretty your hair it,
and I want to tell you I think your hair's real pretty,
and I want to hold you ___ hope you cry
tell you that it's the pain and that you've got to say it,
tell you that you've got to hang on.
and I hear you say
"what's 'hang on'?"
"hang on to what?"
and I say,
"It's the pain"
and some day you'll call it Rage and it'll be crazy
and you'll put a scarf around your head and scream
with your Sisters in some sleazy sidewalk donut dive;
You'll all be there, see, in the sun,
with the days stretched out in front of you.
And some day you'll wake up in an upstairs room
by a dormer window in the skinny sun;
there will be a man beside you and
his scent will lull you like an ether,
and you'll reach across to his slow breath and
touch the hair above his ears and
you'll arch your shoulders over him
and put your lips down on his head;
Then you'll ease back and sigh ___ stare at the ceiling and
think about Me ___ and how I told you to hang on
and how you thought I was an old fart
that it's easy
for an old fart to tell you to hang on,
and how I told you about the pain and how it's Rage,
cause Anger ain't good enough when you're Gay,
not when you're royalty.
And you can feel a Peace like a waterfall you are
wash you clean in the outlaw love your room blesses,
and the fullness and strength in your limbs
will say that you did hang on,
and your man will wake up and you'll both hang on
and you'll keep on hangin on . . .
HEY YOU ___ little brother . . .
There's nothin too good!