It's summery, and the geese are honking in the park. I am in a park. It's summery and I'm outdoors in the morning, and I swear this time, mom, I'm not even close to homeless.
The geese are honking, not at me, but at each other. Mating and flying and hissing and swimming and eating the plant life in this unswimmable water. These black capped, white chin-strapped loud beaks breaking the silence of a Tuesday morning bagel.
They will not get the bagel.
I remember being three or four, sitting on the pondfront in front of my cousins' house in Atasmansit, with various members of my mother's side of the family. There was a family of geese that owned their quarter of Lawrence Pond. We called the alpha female, Big Hiss, because she was big. And hissy. I remember feeding her bits of bagel, and turning to my Aunt Maggie, a laughful Canadian woman with fluffy black hair and a ten mile smile. "Canadian geese are funny." I said.
She crossed her arms. "They aren't Canadian geese, Adam, they're Canada Geese."
Now I understand why they honk and hiss so much. These beautiful vegetarians named for a country that refuses to claim them. The nation that births them, but does not allow them to call their birthplace home.
I get it.
When the article in the paper announced my upcoming show, I was disheartened to see that they'd labeled me a Gay Poet. Sure, I've been sleeping predominantly with men for the last decade or so, but more often I've been sleeping alone, and nobody labels me an Asexual Poet.
I'm not sure why the Gay distinction makes me any angrier than the poetry distinction. After all, I've been writing more prose than poetry these days. I suppose I'm more forgiving of the poet because I'm doing the show to perform poetry. I'm not going there to recruit gays, pick up guys, or pass along any agenda associated with who I sleep with. Will I be reading some poems about men I've slept with? Probably. But I'll also be reading some surrealist shit, and some a bunch of persona poems. I'd probably be just as angry if I'd been listed as a Surrealist Poet or a Persona Poet, because, while they're things I do write about, I rarely fill a set with them.
Still, the whole being a Gay Poet thing annoys me. Not just because I don't often identify with the Stereotype Gay Poets. Those who only write about being Gay. Those who go out of their way to be self-parody or walking political campaigns. When I think of my favorite poets who are gay, I don't think of them as gay poets. Who gives an unfuck who Daphne Gottleib sleeps with? Justin Chin? What part of Morris Stegosaurus's "Clockwork" is enhanced by the fact that he's a gay babyfur? And what does giving the occasional blowjob have to do with Buddy Wakefield's "Pretend"?
I'm getting ranty. And Rant Poet isn't a title anyone should be reaching for, so I'll just fold this little article up into my poetry scrapbook, pick up the copy of Blues For All The Changes, that I hope will get me to remember what it was about Nikki Giovanni that made me love her work, and start reading again. I'll try and relax while the joggers and dog walkers dance around me to the beat of the geese, who skim the water in front of me, honking "Fuck Canada" over and over again in their beautifully raspy voices.