Purple Princess Poetry

GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, requested that people wear purple October 20 to raise awareness of the dangers of anti-gay bullying.  The issue was brought to light last month after the suicide of Tyler Clementi, who killed himself after roommates outed him online.

I have my own issues with suicide — for lack of a more appropriate phrase, it was the “trendy” thing to do in my high school. At least three of my very good friends all attempted suicide as a cry for help. That “Teenage Suicide” song from Pump Up The Volume? Not so much a joke in the early 90s.

But we’re taking today from a different side.

Also in the early 90s–about a year after I graduated high school, so I was still 17–one of my uncles decided to come out of the closet. In my immediate mixed-race family (if you don’t think Greeks and People Of Any Other Descent are mixed-race, you need to watch My Big Fat Greek Wedding again), the homosexuality itself was really no big deal. What I hated most was that he felt he had to lie–both to us and to himself–for so many years. He was suddenly a different person to me–one that I didn’t know at all, but I was willing to make the effort.

I was going through my own emotional quagmire (as young teenagers do when they’re trying not to fail their first semester of college), and so I expressed my-emo-self the best way I knew how at the time: through poetry.

I had a dream about a monk who wrote a beautiful poem about a cloud at sunset. At the beginning of the poem, the cloud was an eagle. By the end of the poem, the cloud had transformed into an angel. I woke up desperate to write the poem…but I worried that–in some way–it would be plagiarism. Ultimately deciding it would be pretty tough to be sued by my own subconscious,  I wrote the poem anyway. (My penance is that the poem in my dream was far more elegant.) It is also inspired by TS Eliot’s The Hollow Men.

I’m not vain enough to try and submit my teenage poetry for professional publication, so here it is for your enjoyment. I dedicated it to my uncle. I’d be interested to know what it means to you.


Tears of the Hollow Men

Blue clouds at sunset
With silver-pink lining
Free as an eagle
On the wind shining
Real as each second
Soft as a dove
Hard as the truth
False as your love
Some woman said all the real men are dying
All I can see are the hollow men crying

Clouds are a-changing
The eagle is now
A heaven-bound angel
Taking a bow
To the powers before him
Which shower him gold
I cannot believe
The stories I’m told
Harsh white light
Showed the red-blooded taint
I cannot listen
To keep you a saint
I cannot hear
How perfection is fake
I cannot stand
The apologies you make
I cannot look
So I look away
What kind of madness
Has made you this way?
Some woman said
All the real men are dying
All I can hear
Are the hollow men crying

I don’t deserve
For you to forgive
Me for my feelings
About how you live
Your life is your own
Independence, be proud
I look up to you for that
As I look to you now
An eagle, an angel
High up in the sky
An eagle, an angel
How high can you fly?
Some woman said
All the real men are dying
All I can feel
Are the tears that I’m crying

–A. Kontis, 1994