Some Faggy Gestures
How to arrange the body.
How to orient the body in relation to others or environment.
How to convey the nature of intentions and attitudes.
How to sissy that walk.
Who will write the history of the limp wrist?
The body is an archive.
The loss of even the slightest gesture is a withering of experience.
Gestures of dominance.
Gestures of bondage.
Remember the open-mouthed arc of his closed-eyes neck with your lips at the trail of his thigh.
Gestures of melancholy or foppery.
The peculiar way one enters the room.
Joe Brainard wrote, “I remember wondering if I looked queer.”
Is it gay to cross your legs at the knees?
A bird feigns an injured wing to lure predators from its nest.
Renaissance court portraits tend to portray powerful men as having swish wrists.
Yes, you look like a homo in that profile picture.
The problem has to do with: a) that gay looking shirt, b) that gay look on your face, c) I can’t tell if the arm around you is male or female but it’s holding its cigarette in a gay-looking way.
What I hide with my language my body utters.
Gestures of invitation, gestures of defiance.
First, set your arm fastidiously akimbo, your palm turned back on the hip and second, keep the other limb’s elbow in close so that its elevated hand sings circles in the air.
The man I love walks like a dancer through the fey centuries, wearing his heart like a crown.
He gestures toward a painting of Napoleon entitled “The Greatest Homosexual.”
He gestures toward a kinetoscope film of a strongman nuzzling his own bicep in the rare grain of silence.
He gestures toward the party in the far room to which you have not yet arrived, to where, at the end of the hall, he will gesture toward a man arrested in 1726 for taking indecent liberties with another man, toward the posture he assumed as he avowed, “I did it because I thought I knew him, and I think there is no crime in making what I please of my own body.”
Theory of the Lyric
You repeatedly look aside. You have a general desire now to make each form more precise. You want to feel that the thing, as you say, has clicked. You wouldn’t get back what you lost, but you might get something else. You want to distort far beyond appearance in order to recapture it. You get carried away. You excuse yourself. You prefer mostly to be alone.
You float behind a parted curtain. You are appalled by overheard conversation. You live between blows, head ringing, or you told the entire story from the start, for the third time at least. You allow a far higher proportion of your work to survive now than you did ten years ago. You are the skin of an emerging letter. You have no sense of proportion. You should propose a toast.
You speak into an imagined tape recorder, provoking the images that hound you. You would be annoyed but discreet. Your memory lapses before that face. You can’t tell now which is bait, which trapped. You know it is arbitrary, that it might happen quite often, or only once. You are conscious of an emotional implication. You look around you. You open your throat to laugh.
1. For some time now I’ve been wanting to write a poem about, or like, Fleetwood Mac’s “Silver Springs.” It would be a poem for you. You might not ever read it. I don’t know if that would matter.
2. Stevie Nicks described “Silver Springs,” written about the end of her relationship with Lindsey Buckingham, as a “real heartbreaker.”
3. All that cloudless fall I listened to “Silver Springs” on repeat in the car but it did not let me know how to leave you.
4. Recorded for Rumours, although ultimately omitted from that album, “Silver Springs” ends with a long fade-out whose barely audible last lines are the refrain, “Time cast a spell on you / but you won’t forget me.”
5. As if to say: Time is my rival.
6. As if to say, to Time: Time, you can subdue all but a lover.
7. As if to say, to the beloved: Beloved, you can trace the reddest line through the whole wide world but when I compare you to this blue your every step will catch and drag in its terrible wake.
8. The gesture is moving but absurd, particularly since “Silver Springs” didn’t appear on Rumours because of time: it was too long and too slow.
9. Two decades later, a second version of “Silver Springs” nonetheless enacts the first’s refusal to be forgotten. This version, recorded live, became a minor hit and won a Grammy. Because it is a live recording it of course doesn’t fade out, but comes instead to a firm close, followed by applause, the politeness of which is alarming after the rude menace of Nicks staring down Buckingham and keening Was I just a fool? Was I just a fool?
10. I pause the video I am streaming on YouTube to study the audience as they stupidly clap, there in 1997 and here on my phone, as if they shouldn’t be hiding their faces, or at least lowering their eyes, as if they have no proper appreciation for shame.
11. Maybe I will send you the link.
12. In fact to be beautiful, shame requires only a stage.
13. In fact if people hate poetry, and mostly they do, people hate poetry because it, like humiliation, pretends but refuses to go away.
14. In fact lately I have been listening to songs, like “Silver Springs,” that fade out, pretending but refusing to go away.
15. In fact the fade-out, or the technique of ending a song with a gradual decrease in volume, became common in the 1950s and reached its peak, it seems, in 1985, when the year’s top ten songs featured not a single cold ending.
16. We share a space with a song, a space the song itself has created, yet at the fade-out it wanders off, a host who has mysteriously abandoned her own party, or the adults downstairs who retreat to some interior whose door edges shut and behind which we can make out the endless, outsized melody but not the words. In there someone starts sobbing, or sharply stops. In there someone is fucking, or getting fucked.
17. This is our sorrow. Once it wasn’t, but now it is. It might not always be, but now it is.
18. My battery is at 3%.
19. I don’t know what I would say about “Silver Springs.” When you were here, I would have said it to you, thinking through the queer, ongoing elsewhere of the first version’s fade-out versus the puncturing now of the second’s liveness. Or how, once cut from Rumours, “Silver Springs” was relegated to the B-side of “Go Your Own Way,” Lindsey Buckingham’s own, more jaunty account of the break-up with Nicks. A-side: You can go your own way. B-side: You will never get away from the sound of the woman that loves you. I might have said, Lindsey Buckingham sounds like chrome while Stevie Nicks sounds like exhaust. I might have said, That morning when I woke my body felt finally historical, there not next to any You.
20. For one blue decade I addressed myself I swear to one person only, and maybe I am still.
21. What does your half of the sky look like? Here everything is weather and far from you.
22. For some time I’ve wanted to write a poem called “Silver Springs,” a real heartbreaker, but this is not that poem. This poem wants just to say things to you.
23. Do you know who you are?
24. And if so, then I do, too.
Chad Bennett is an assistant professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is at work on a study of American poetry and the queer art of gossip. His poems have appeared in Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Fence, Jubilat, Likestarlings, and elsewhere.