Randall Mann



If there is a word in the lexicon of love,
it will not declare itself.
The nature of words is to fail
men who fall in love with men.

It will not declare itself,
the perfect word. Boyfriend seems ridiculous:
men who fall in love with men
deserve something a bit more formal.

The perfect word? Boyfriend? Ridiculous.
But partner is... businesslike —
we deserve something a bit less formal,
much more in love with love.


This is what he dreams of:
a map of burned land,
a mound of dirt
in the early century’ s winter.

A map of burned land?
A country is razed
in the early century’ s winter.
And God descends.

A country is raised
because of industry.
And God descends,
messengers rush inside

because of industry,
in spite of diplomats.
Messengers rush inside
to haunt the darkened aisles.

In spite of diplomats,
the witnesses know well
to haunt the darkened aisles,
experimentally —

The Mortician in San Francisco

This may sound queer,
but in 1985 I held the delicate hands
of Dan White:
I prepared him for burial; by then, Harvey Milk
was made monument — no, myth — by the years
since he was shot.

I remember when Harvey was shot:
twenty, and I knew I was queer.
Those were the years,
Levi’ s and leather jackets holding hands
on Castro Street, cheering for Harvey Milk —
elected on the same day as Dan White.