Lodestar Quarterly

Lodestar Quarterly
Figure reaching for a star Issue 3 • Fall 2002 • Featured Lodestar Writer • Poetry

Death and 42nd Street

Michael Lassell

Today I came back from vacation and
half of 42nd Street was missing.
A part of my history was buried
underneath the rubble, an important,
irretrievable part I planned to need
again (a photo left in a desk drawer
until a rainy day decades from now).

The only shards of me that remain are
the shattered mirrors that lined the stage of
the Show Palace Theater, fractured now (like
my memories), exposed now to light and
scrutiny and looking as absurd as
the wrecking-ball moralists would if they
were caught being honest by accident.

There they sprawl on the brick wall above the
sidewalk, silent witness to countless shows,
the sweat and cum and discount baby oil
of generations of strippers, mirrors
that once reflected my own face as I
slipped a finger into the satin hole
of a sweet black man with glistening curls.

He hunkered down before me, his arrow-
hard dick pointed in my direction, his
eyes full of my need to feel like a man --
and my feeling it. In the sad glare of
day, those slivered mirrors are as little
like they were as my dancer when he shrank
and withered with AIDS and then disappeared.

Under those dusty bricks are so many
eyes, open in pain, in fear... perhaps in
wonder: mine in my teens, those of the men
who met my inexperience with greed
but never spoke, eyes of hustlers, addicts,
johns, eyes like mine needing to feel like a
man, a sex dancer's need to satisfy.

And I did desire him, and I did
desire to be desired, and he
gave himself and I took him and comfort
well worth the dollars. These are the odors,
the memories left behind in the soon
to be sledge-hammered ancient brick wall that's
soaked with hope, tears, my body's fluids.

Yes, some part of me is being torn down
with the walls as this era ends. Two weeks
away in countries that date their buildings
in centuries, now half of Forty-Deuce
is lying in waste and some essential
part of me is buried now in a pile
of dusty brick the color of dried blood.

Michael Lassell

Michael Lassell's first book, Poems for Lost and Un-lost Boys, was the winner of Amelia's first annual book award; his second, Decade Dance, won a 1990 Lambda Literary Award. He is the author of A Flame for the Touch That Matters, Certain Ecstasies: Bedtime Stories, Elton John and Tim Rice's AIDA: Bringing the Broadway Show to Life, and Disney on Broadway, as well as co-editor, with poet Elena Georgiou, of The World in Us: Lesbian and Gay Poetry of the Next Wave, a finalist in the Library Association of America's annual lesbian and gay book awards as well as a Lammy finalist. He is currently articles director for Metropolitan Home.

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