suppose you wanted to join
the French Foreign Legion
just like in the movies
all of your life
you’ve desired to be a man
without a past
looked forward
to being without a future

so reveling in the present
you sign up
only to find yourself
in a Brechtian world
scripted by the poetic ghost of Genet
and inhabited by the penis-towers
of Rainer Fasbinder’s imagination

you are shocked
this world (the film you inhabit)
is not as you know it
the patriarchal representations of your safe world
have evaporated

in its place – a new horizon
and in this erotic spectacle of masculinity
male bodies become, as Foucault said,
“polymorphous palaces of pleasure”

you have always depended
on the straight world
for representations of masculinity
tried to justify yourself
by reenacting them
reinforcing the things
you have always believed to be true
never realizing
that masculinity is learned behavior

you remember the heroic stoicism
of the Legionnaires from the 1966 film Beau Gueste
and could never imagine Doug McClure
kissing a man for any reason

but in this brave new world
the creatures in it
are outside the binary
you have used to balance
your brain

in this cinema
every conversation
questions gender
until biology
is just a class
you had back in high school

at the end of Claire Denis’ fine film Beau Travail
when Denis Lavant
says his sad goodbye with a bullet
you can hear Fass
binder cry
on some distant quiet dune
Brad Davis too

all those men marching
that silent army
by the gaze of all
but a few

Beau Gueste, Douglas Heyes, 1966
Beau Travail, Claire Denis, 2000
Querelle, Rainer N. Fassbinder, 1982

Michael Dennis