Pulse Puerto Rican Parade

For Orlando by Gracen Lynch

It’s not hard to stand in the dark.

We have learned to see one another

faces, bodies, movement

the flow of sexuality and connection

that so fluidly passes from one man to another

one woman to another

one person to another,

often in silence

and in secret

as if we were building a kind of love

not intended to be noticed by others,

by fathers, by mother, by gods.


I feel the day hunting me,

trying to find me and my friends

where we are,

dancing in the dark,

dancing as I have my whole life once I learned

there was love in the shadows

that shadows are not only for monsters

and that the dreams in me

– delicate, colorful, fragile in a way,

dreams that know so well

how a butterfly emerging

from the long journey of losing itself,

and cannot receive help from anyone,

until it is ready –

those dreams of mine

refused help, instinctively,

because they knew that love from the outside

is so often a gun

whose bullets only know how to say  

that there should be no butterflies in this world.


My dreams took a long time

to be aware of themselves,

aware of the secret place inside

where love comes from,

flowing into my life

just like the mystery

of blood filling wings, changing

what was soft and new and opaque

into something hard and experienced and clear.


Perhaps God put us here

to learn our dance from the inside,

looking to others, so shyly at first,

not wanting to be seen watching.


On the floor, in the dark,

pulsing together, as one people

our bodies full of joy and power and rage and fucking and sadness,

speaking to each other in that hidden way we know –

a way that 50 years later is finding

its own wisdom, its own intelligence, its own faith –

our hearts in every moment of our lives

are working

to weave the blanket of our pain and our culture,

now arriving at the end of its sleep

where it has hung so still and innocent

in the crisp air of becoming.

We are emerging as a people,

transformed as surely as any other miracle

by energies far beyond

that we are only now coming to fully know.


Always there has been a voice in me

that grew from the realization that I had only the night

to be safe with.

As a boy, I heard the Levitical Bell,

that terrible note that I can never unhear,

naming me, Abomination.

That culture of cruelty

has raised ten-year-olds into adults

who exchange their lepidopteral entitlement

of long-handled nets and ball-pointed stick pins,

for bullets,

and media,

and a worship starving for its own shadows.


The day is hungry like a rabid dog

thirsty for darkness and fearing the darkness. .

The entitlement grew up with them,

like the lessons of the old boy scouts

now carried into adulthood, only

this merit badge was about

the perfection of the skill of

walking right into a bar

and shooting the darkness in the back.


Remember what we used to call people

back in the pioneer days

who shot others in the back?


I listen to the house music,

pulsing with the rest.

Part of the rhythm I feel in my own life,

now that I am older,

is the aim of the barrel at me,

a hatred I can feel more than see.


But part of the strength of the butterfly

is to emerge in full view of the gun of the day,

and to leap off into the dark empty

and be carried by winds,

somehow able to survive

on a grim kind of mercy,

or die with courage and bewilderment every time

the day must express itself,

take its measure of the world once again

at a safe distance

by squeezing the trigger.


Our people are older now. 50 years strong.

We dance, not because we have to,

not because there is any danger of the night disappearing,

and not because whatever it is in us

that is dreaming its way into the world

will leave. No.

We carry that dream, that sometimes yet-inarticulate love,

into the world.

Again and again, eternity bears my siblings

into this pocket of time and, again and again,

humanity reaches in absently

and pulls out the lucky penny of our gifts and our talents,

surprised, and wondering

where that came from.


Because people still don’t know what money is.

How could they when they don’t know the value of anything

or anyone else?

They would have to learn what it means  

to be born into the pocket of the world

among the clouds of dark lint and forgotten candy.

Of course, most things in pockets are thrown away

or placed somewhere else,

by someone else,

to do something else

FOR them. Every entitlement has to find a home

or else it wanders the streets with a gun,

mad as hall.


The steady hand drives the colored pin

into that beautiful wing

because beauty

a beauty so blinding it scares some,

is so much better pinned down

and dead, and where the curious can keep an eye on it.

Dead things are so much easier

to keep an eye on, right? I get it.


But all the forgotten things,

all the pennies,

all the lost sweetness our parents,

churches, and neighbors,

that people have forgotten about

in the forest of growing up,

all the discarded bits of this world,

they find their way here

onto the dance floor,

and we make room for them.


Eventually they catch the beat,

our wordless smiling bodies teaching each other,

and strengthening one another.


We know the day will come for us again,

perhaps again and again,

like a promise made by a terrible God, because

that is what the day always does.


It lives to kill the night.


In our time, the day has come with guns

because in our time,  

light is lost in a dream

that thinks it will find its way home

only by breaking the night.


But here together,

moving as one,

as who we are, emerging and beautiful, I can say,

that we are not broken,

and we are not lost.


We are together.

We are the night.

We are eternal, and,

by God,

we are dancing.


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