Friday, July 06, 2007

I saw this on Wompo yesterday. What a fun sestina! (and I usually don't care for sestinas).

Boy Wearing a Dress (by Dan Bellm)

On the way home he asks me, If we cut off our
penises then we'd be girls wouldn't we Dad,
my little boy in cowboy boots and a long black dress
walking home from Castro Street playing
blue fairy and wicked stepsister and lost princess as he
walks, the people and store windows whirling by

as he twirls only figures in fairy stories he knows by
heart, though what he doesn't see yet is that our
neighborhood's a kind of fairyland for real--still, I hope no one heard him
ask me that, and hope my Dad
who is dead hasn't heard, who would never have let me play
boy and girl with this frightening freedom, dressing

up in public or alone in a four-dollar thrift-store dress
we bought because he asked for one. A drunk careening by
asks, Why who are you some kind of superhero, son, and from a display
window video porn stars sweating under harsh light smirk in our
faces--I don't have to tell them who I am now do I dad--
No it's a dress, the guy's friend says, I've seen him

around before, that boy's always in costume, he
must be a little fag. Ken dolls in white satin dresses
and angel wings and hairless Barbies done up as leather Dads
are climbing a Christmas tree inside the card shop by
the pizza store, some queen's fantasy scenario of what our
mothers and fathers should have let us play

back where we come from, but my little boy likes to play
the girl part of stories for reasons of his own, he
likes their speeches and their dresses and shoes, we tell ourselves
it's harmless, wanting to wear a dress,
harmless as my nervous laughter to passersby
and what do I apologize to them for, Dad--

When I was a child I wanted to wear my Dad's
work shirts, I liked the smell of his Army uniform, I didn't play
girl games, don't look at me. My little boy is getting distracted by
the dildoes at the sex shop I try to hustle him past. Soon enough he'll
learn to leave his dress at home, will hear somewhere that a boy in a dress
cannot be beautiful. Once inside our

house he undresses by the mirror to be naked under the dress,
and lifts it up to display what most of us keep inside our
pants, and he asks me, a little afraid for the answer, Am I beautiful, Dad--



James Hall said...

What a great poem.

A. D. said...


Charles said...

Have you read him before? I've read a couple of his books and they're definitely worth the time.

Peter said...

C: I do not know his work. I'll have to check it out.