The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Poem for Friday


The Love That Dares To Speak Its Name
By James Kirkup


As they took him from the cross
I, the centurion, took him in my arms-
the tough lean body
of a man no longer young,
beardless, breathless,
but well hung.

He was still warm.
While they prepared the tomb
I kept guard over him.
His mother and the Magdalen
had gone to fetch clean linen
to shroud his nakedness.

I was alone with him.
For the last time
I kissed his mouth. My tongue
found his, bitter with death.
I licked his wound-
the blood was harsh.

For the last time
I laid my lips around the tip
of that great cock, the instrument
of our salvation, our eternal joy.
The shaft still throbbed, anointed
with death's final ejaculation.

I knew he'd had it off with other men-
with Herod's guards, with Pontius Pilate,
With John the Baptist, with Paul of Tarsus
with foxy Judas, a great kisser, with
the rest of the Twelve, together and apart.
He loved all men, body, soul and spirit-even me.

So now I took off my uniform, and, naked,
lay together with him in his desolation,
caressing every shadow of his cooling flesh,
hugging him and trying to warm him back to life.
Slowly the fire in his thighs went out,
while I grew hotter with unearthly love.

It was the only way I knew to speak our love's proud name,
to tell him of my long devotion, my desire, my dread-
something we had never talked about. My spear, wet with blood,
his dear, broken body all open wounds,
and in each wound his side, his back,
his mouth-I came and came and came

as if each coming was my last.
And then the miracle possessed us.
I felt him enter into me, and fiercely spend
his spirit's final seed within my hole, my soul,
pulse upon pulse, unto the ends of the earth-
he crucified me with him into kingdom come.

-This is the passionate and blissful crucifixion
same-sex lovers suffer, patiently and gladly.
They inflict these loving injuries of joy and grace
one upon the other, till they die of lust and pain
within the horny paradise of one another's limbs,
with one voice cry to heaven in a last divine release.

Then lie long together, peacefully entwined, with hope
of resurrection, as we did, on that green hill far away.
But before we rose again, they came and took him from me.
They knew what we had done, but felt
no shame or anger. Rather they were glad for us,
and blessed us, as would he, who loved all men.

And after three long, lonely days, like years,
in which I roamed the gardens of my grief
seeking for him, my one friend who had gone from me,
he rose from sleep, at dawn, and showed himself to me before
all others. And took me to him with
the love that now forever dares to speak its name.

--------

Another banned poem, this one from the UK, labeled blasphemy and libel because it's an explicit sexual fantasy about a homosexual Jesus Christ. Don't read it if that concept offends you. (The idea isn't unheard of in US poetry, either; Allen Ginsberg's "Old Love Story" has a less graphic description of Jesus as a lover of men.) The Gay News printed "The Love that Dares To Speak Its Name" in 1976 and was sued for it in 1979 after a complaint by the founder of the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association; the publisher of the Gay News was given a nine-month suspended jail sentence.

I had a pretty uneventful day, the highlight of which was lunch with gblvr at La Madeleine, followed by a trip to Toys R Us at the other end of the shopping center. I was all set to buy a Pirate Elizabeth Swann action figure, but then I saw the Barbie bathroom for $11.99, with the cat sitting on the toilet -- Cinnamon's favorite spot -- glaring into the fish bowl...how I could I resist? (They had another set with an aquarium and a different cat on top trying to reach her paw in, but that one came with a Barbie and a sofa, so I refrained!) I also bought the kids Epic Movie -- the rated version, not the unrated, though I'd appreciate a report on what's in that one -- and we all watched it and howled again. I suppose I should be ashamed of this, heh.

Almost as good, gblvr and I went into World Market and discovered that they have UK Cadbury and Twinings from London as opposed to the weaker US version! No Nestle Mint Aero or Kendal Mint Cake, but you can't have everything and maybe they'll get that at some point. In even more good news, I'm sure everyone knows that pornish_pixies is back, and that Universal is building a Harry Potter theme park. And the headache I had all day due to the 90 degree heat and Code Orange air quality is finally gone...I think sleeping till 9:30 this morning helped, though I have to be up very early again tomorrow as son has a first-thing-in-the-morning orchestra performance and my in-laws are coming!


The interior of the schoolhouse at Gunston Hall. George Mason had eleven children, all of whom were first educated here.


Here's the exterior...a classic little red schoolhouse.


The kitchen buildings are very similar in design; none of the originals survived, so these are recreations based on archaeology and written accounts by Mason's contemporaries.


Our tour guide believes at least one of the buildings was probably a necessary rather than a cookhouse.


These are hydrostatical bubbles, believed to measure the alcohol content of different liquors so one would not accidentally get drunk while abroad or visiting friends. Their measurements were ultimately found to be faulty, but gentlemen of Mason's era considered them valuable commodities.
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And because this kind of good news should always be celebrated: New Hampshire's governor signed same-sex civil unions into law, saying, "It's never too soon to act to prevent discrimination."
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