Maybe the Saddest Thing

“These are wide-ranging Whitmanesque poems—self-aware meditations that rap and jazz their way forward, talk back, backtrack, and scratch so hard they blow out the speakers with their complicated love for a huge cast of icons, from Pam Grier to Flavor Flav, from RuPaul to Dave Chapelle.”

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Selected by

D.A. Powell




Love Letter to RuPaul

You have one of the longest,
thickest, most veined, colossal
set of hands that I have ever seen
and, frankly, they cast a spell on me.
Not that I’m the type of man
who goes around checking out
other men’s hands, but I know
tightly tucked cuticles
when I see them. Even sexier
is the hourglass-shaping choke hold
you can put on a mic.
You could hurl a two-foot monkey
wrench at a mirror
or pull out
and push in a date’s chair
with the flick of a wrist.
I bet you don’t though. Bet you’ve never
carried a man up four flights of stairs,
limp arms flailing every which way.
And if you have, I bet you took care
to cradle his neck. To avoid banisters
and to walk slowly. Because you are fierce
in the way only a 6’7″ black drag queen could be.
In one of my earliest memories, you are wearing
a pink sequined dress, endorsing a hamburger
Good enough far a man. Maybe a woman.
I am a black man who has never worn pink—
not a polo to a country club. Not gators
to a church. And still, that commercial
ravished me. How hard, to be sandwiched
between what and who you are, tickled
by every cruel wind, critic-voyeur
playing rough beneath your skirt. How
raw you must be. To sit before a camera,
legs uncrossed.