Kansas Gothic Intelligentsia



—for Connie, Roberta, Theresa,  
Jan and Kenton

We’ve all been tainted by it—
America Gothic deep inside us

There’s no such thing as the—
FLY OVER STATE aesthetic

It’s deep inside us & it’s not—
gonna budge or go anywhere

Just look at this lovely photo—
such exquisite young naivete

Dearest Connie and Theresa—
lovely Roberta and gone Jan

The intelligentsia, my dears—
such young Emporia literati

Elsie Pine took one look at me—
told me to come back to her

From then on we talked—
tea time there in her home

She was the Grande Dame—
the true Librarian Goddess

Long before the Eisenhower—
William Allen White Library

She gathered her coterie—
young Kansas writers together

I was unique though—
I came to her with credentials

Talented lesbians sensed that—
I was quite capable of knowing

Mildred Kaff and her lover—
Vina Hillerman the Artist

They knew my mother—
Amy Jane was their student

And suddenly I popped up—
totally unexpected by them

The Lesbos goddesses—
sailing by high overhead

Here is our gift to you—
this nelly prairie boy

Help him to be who he’ll be—
it will be difficult for him

We’ve chosen his home—
Athens of the Midwest town

Let him to be the Voice—
of summer cicada evenings

The boy of Peter Pan Park—
the kid who Mary White was

WAW laid the groundwork—
the Park, the Lake, the Muse

And so the Voice came—
all the way from Kensington Park

The wrestling team knew it too—
as we worked out after school

Down by Peter Pan Lake—
there on the mats after school

Arnold Lopez in YMCA showers—
knowing all too well who I was 

Shoving my face against the wall—
a bar of soap stuck up my ass

Knowing me better than—
I could possibly know myself

There in the moody YMCA—
I became who I am

Later Marjorie Sullivan sensed it—
Jaquith and Doxtator knew it too

They knew I was different—
But what could they possibly do?

How could they know—
I still don’t know who I am

What do I know about Kansas—
other than it’s MYSTERIOUS

like Scott Heim says

But then what do I know—
am I gay Kansas poet laureate?

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