Prolific gay novelist Perry Brass’s books include Trial by Night, King of Angels, and the self-help volume The Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love. This spring, he will be collaborating with my friend John Ollom on a poetry and dance performance entitled “Threads” at the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance. (Stay tuned for ticketing info.) Perry has kindly allowed me to reprint two of his new poems below.
I Will Ask Mike Pence to Kiss Me
I know it. I know it. That face
blank as the moon excites me,
makes me feel all hard
inside. He is such an Eagle Scout,
such a serious contender for
the face of crime control.
He looks so grave, so sober,
like Daddy as an undertaker
that somebody needs to juice him up,
lighten his loafers, make him glow,
make him show a little pulse,
make him show he’s got jism
at his fingertips. So,
I will volunteer my time,
just to get Mike off his pedestal,
that one eons lower than his
the one whitewashed in Indiana, the
one presented to him by the American
Legion, the Kiwanis Club, the Rotarians,
and the K. of C. The one
he’s glued to by Alien tape. OK,
I will unglue him. Undo him
perhaps. Just you wait, Mike.
Just you wait. Kiss me!
You were killed barechested at
at a gas station
in Brooklyn by a kid who didn’t
like tall black men dancing
at night, with the light stark
and cutting around them, making
deadly halos out of the silence
surrounding Beyoncé’s songs, that
blasted through time that stopped,
an anger that had nothing to do
with your dance.
But with you, tall
and beautiful, articulate of body,
wise of eye, soft of mouth, long
fingers, wide shoulders, black chest,
and there you were
with the kid shooting you on his phone,
and you stepped up
into that void of hot summertime
while others watched until you
stuck, bleeding—and your friend
Otis held you and pressed the blood
with his hand until the ambulance
arrived—and we were all crying,
all of us there, all of us seeing,
your friends and ten siblings
and family and rows and rows
of marching people crying.
Only knowing when you died
at Maimonides Hospital that
a real part of us had known
death too, had felt it deep
in the rolling rivers
of your life
with strong hands carrying your body.
For O’Shae Sibley, murdered the night of July 29, 2023. His friend Otis Pena tried to stop the bleeding with his hand.