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What could we do?

Today’s prompt is to write a “reply poem.”

I’ve had this inexplicable love for Mark Doty’s poem “Tiara” for the past 5 years or so. Mark Doty was the first gay man to reject my lesbian ass, metaphorically, of course, by rejecting me from his poetry class. His rejection led me to embarking on a 7-semester journey of poetic discovery. I even wrote about him last summer.

Anyways, as I said earlier, for the past 5 years, “Tiara” has stood out to me as a powerful peace. I first heard of Mark Doty when I heard him read this poem at the Dodge Poetry Festival in 2008, and it was the first time I could connect the words “queer” and “writer” together.

So, watch this video of Mark performing “Tiara.” My poem really has hardly anything to do with his.


“What Could We Do”

“…what could he do,
what could any of us ever do
but ask for it?”

It is incredibly moving
to realize the power
of words left unspoken.

When words are left unsaid–
or, perhaps,
unsaid to their subject–

what power is stripped away
from both the speaker
and the current topic?

To think the subject is unaware
of the mere commonality
of being a conversation piece

is, plainly put, stupid,
but they continue to beat on
against the rhythm of their own stupidity.

When callous words are spoken–
perhaps out of fear, or misunderstanding–
the power of the words are stripped.

Inquire, desire, dive into the truth,
whether it be through a questioning
or through small talk,

and fulfill your needs
to know the truth
without being cruel,

for the cruelest of moments
in the most innocent passings.

Speak your truth.
Defy the heartless.
Rise above the rest,

and stay at ease with an open heart.
What can any of us ever do
but ask for that?