Reclaiming a Word

by Abner Dormiendo

You have been writing words on my skin since I showed it to you. You have been folding my limbs like dog-ears on a newspaper’s corner. That’s the problem with writers: you think the world can be saved with poetry. You cannot even come up with a word synonymous to the mole on the crossword of my body. Thirty-eight down, my ticklish spot. Seventeen-across, a wound from a cycling accident. You are running out of words but I forgive you. It’s not your fault the bigots are climbing upstream in the vessels of New York to protest love. Next election, I am running for mayor, and my first decree is to legalize acceptance. I am making you my husband and we will make love on the office table. Second decree: Synonyms will be our currency. I will pay kindness with gentleness. Pay me in sadness and I will give you my childhood. Third decree will be something about flowers. No flowers shall mean grief. Every anthurium will mean “I love you.” Every snapdragon will mean “I love you regardless of who you are.” Every hydrangea will be about forgiveness. This is the closest thing I can come to rewriting a dictionary. Thirteenth decree: homosexuality is not synonymous to sin, abberation, or abnormality. Gay will mean happy again. Queer will mean interesting, not strange or odd. If you pay by homosexuality, you will be given love. Twentieth decree: every citizen is obliged to plant hydrangeas in front of their enemies’ houses. That includes the guy who told us we’re going to hell for holding hands. That includes his entire congregation who picketed that soldier’s funeral because he loved another man. We saw that on the television after you wrote “tolerance” on the column of my spine. Seven-down. There are other words for loving your kind, but nineteen-across my ribcage is exile. Eleven-across my chest is condemnation. We are running out of synonyms for understanding, and we are far from solving the problem. Twenty-five-down my left leg is blank. We are gay but we are far from happiness.


For Janroe, who said she wanted a poem with “gay” and “flowers” in it.