Circa 1976: Parental Persecutions, And How You Glided Through Them

Your parents hated your long, blue-dued hair,
deeming it unpatriotic and subversive;
they shamed your dislike of shoes
as unmasculine and dangerous to your healthy;
they sneered at your mesh-tee shirts
that disclosed a pitiful lack of
athletic conditioning;
they criticized your denim bell-bottoms
as disrespectful of traditional dress codes;
and the stripey socks you wore in the cooler
mornings and evenings (warm afternoons
almost always barefoot) they called sissyfied;
and no one mentioned your love of poetry---
which, in their opinions (by their peers, shared)
for drunks, drug addicts, communists, and "homos."

 

You wondered at times why they did not physically
remove, or restrain you from, these objects they despised;
but these gave them something to complain about
with friends and relatives of their own generation,
on Saturday nights over chips, beer, and pinochle;
and to receive expressions of commiseration,
which made them feel a little better about the
difficulties of parenting in this strange time of ours.
When you figured this out, their opinions no longer
mattered much more than repetitious recitations
of an impotently verbal rage,
in which disatisfaction provided them
an almost heroic sense of satisfaction.

 

 

When a neighbor---at the top of the slope of your
dead-end residential, suburban street;
captain of your school's varsity swim and track teams
(winter and spring sports; he did not care for football)---
befriended you, your parents misinterpreted the friendship,
applauding and encouraging this fortunate turn of events.
They did not suspect how beautiful you felt
whenever he gazed (not just looked) at you that way.
They hoped that conversations with him would societize you;
but the communications conveyed by four lips and two tongues
were very often wordless, punctuated by soft sighs and loud moans.
They would have been shocked to have known about
the first experience of naked intimacy,
he removed his clothes first, then yours---slowly, piece by piece---
reserving your grass-stained stripey socks for last;
and these he removed with his teeth,
his head, and the powerful muscles in his neck.

 

Starward

 

Author's Notes/Comments: 

The use of the term "homos" is a direct quotation from my parents, and a good many of their peers, which I often heard during my adolescence.  My mother often used this as a term to denigrate anyone she disliked, including my best friend and several poets I admired.  (At my first mention of John Milton, after Otober 13, 1975, her question, as reply, was, "Do you know if he was a homo?")

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