When Sally Came For Harry

In the world of passive versus active
Meg Ryan pretending to achieve orgasm
over a sandwich in a deli
is a kick in the ass to the social construct

Sally is telling Harry
in no uncertain terms
that the phallus is phony

much to Billy Crystal’s wonderment
Sally has taken
all of the power
into her lily white hands
and without touching herself
dismantles the social construction
of dominance

she fakes
the satisfaction
she’d present a male lover
to keep his illusions alive
the illusion of his own prowess

if she, and apparently, she does
control her own sexuality, her own orgasm
her own joy and satisfaction
then she has no real need for cock
except to assuage the need
of the man attached to it

all those polite social behaviours
we equate with sexuality
icing on the cake

Meg Ryan moaning over coleslaw
in a New York deli
cutting through every illusion
in Billy Crystal’s head

When Harry Met Sally, Rob Riener, 1998

Joining the Foreign Legion

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

Practicing for my funeral

in Peggy Rajaski’s film
Trevor is dead on the front lawn
a butcher knife in his back, then
equally mort in his Marat tub
Trevor’s clever suicidal theatrics forebode

Trever is all Harold and Maude confused
about gender and death
and where he fits in to his community

in the struggle to navigate
that eddy’s around his young bones
he fights himself away from his own identity
eventually thinking himself a villain
and becoming an enemy in his own skin

his parents attempt to purge his path
with a Dairy Queen Minister
who only muddies Trevor’s water
with deep binary platitudes
and the simultaneous stumbling
of someone in their own purgatory of denial
murkily dressed up as knowledge

outed, shamed and abandoned by all at school
Trevor experiences a loss of innocence
and with no representations that reflect his identity
sees no Diana Ross escape route
until he wakes up
on the other side of desperation
and an aspirin overdose

to discover
a friendly young wise man
Trevor recognizes him
as being from the same tribe

as though his entire childhood
had been spent
on an endless dessert
and an endless search
with no water in sight

salvation as small
as the recognition
of belonging

not every gender battle
is a loss

Trevor, Peggy Rajski, 1994

Found Poem + poetic sidebar

(this dialogue was taken, verbatim from the film Powertool)

suck that cock
suck that cock
suck that big cock

lick my ass
rim my ass
stick your tongue in there

let me fuck your ass
it feels so good
you love it don’t you?

you love it bitch
it feels good
oh yea, oh yea

let me fuck your ass you faggot
let me fuck your ass you jail house faggot
let me fuck your ass

I’m fucking your ass
you love it don’t you bitch?
I’m gonna cum

it was Susan Bordo’s “fully erect penis”
in John Travis’ prison for men

masculinity is not about gender
the man lunching on tube steak
as though it contained
the cure for cancer and a key to freedom
is a passively willing catcher
passive being his position
to the active thrust of his lover
active being his role

both men just players
while a prison cell away
the legendary Jeff Stryker
lowers his gaze
their pleasure but entertainment
for his

as Mr. Stryker
strokes his own object
is captured
by that other gaze

the one
every boy
in town

Powertool: 10th Anniversary, John Travis, 1986

Senjo no Meri Kurisumasu

to some eyes
in some minds
the sight
of David Bowie
and war

to kiss
Ryuichi Sakamato
was no less
than the flash
over Hiroshima
the roar
over Nagasaki

a thousand cranes
Yukio Mishima rethought his past

this small kiss
shifting tides

Merry Christmas, Mr. Laurence, Nagisa Oshima, 1983

Pat Garrett and Lola and Bilidikid

what no one ever seems to talk about
when the Peckinpah gore settles
is that Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
is a good old fashioned love story

Sheriff Garrett loves Billy
so much
he has to kill him
to prove it

and Billy,
sweet as he is
loves Garrett
right back

enough to let him
put a bullet
at the full stop
of his ending
(as the suicidal Mayakovsky
might have said)

the naked Rita Coolidge
and the various
and unclothed Mexican whores
might confuse
the gender issues
for a second

may even alter
the gaze
of the viewer

but Billy,
barefoot and tender
is the object
of Garrett’s

and in another movie,
in Cowboy Berlin
neither Lola or Bilidikid
can perform themselves
beyond the reality
of the gender
they exhibit

they are
as doomed
as gunslingers
cannot adapt

they are
the old world
spun to the edges
weighed down
by a gender politic
they cannot outdraw

but in the fading sunset
there is hope

a man can have emotion
and masculinity
Lola’s optimistic and resourceful friend
“I am a woman with balls”
and the friendly taxi driver
in bemused flirtation

somewhere else
Billy Wilder turns over
in his grave, giggles
remembers Jack Lemon
on the water
with Joe Brown
turns over again
and returns
to the eternally peaceful slumber
we wish on all our heroes

Lola and Bilidikid, Kutlug Ataman, 1998
Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, Sam Peckinpah, 1973

Sexuality is per formative: the Suitcase Handle

For Robert Eads

it does not matter
how you are perceived
it is
how you perceive yourself

we are conditioned
meat sacks
from birth
society, friends,
family and foes
pound us out
drive us
into pre-cut molds
set us
out to dry

Walt Disney and Herr Hitler
both loved the cinema
both shared
visions of conformity
and knew
that in some small way
was in the details
and the dovetails

whereas Annie Sprinkle,
suitcase handle in hand
(I would suggest)
knows that beauty
is in truth
that sexuality
is per formative
a series of illusions

and always
in the eye
of the beholder

I now know
what these film makers know

it is nothing
to become a man
or a woman

to be a good person
you immortal

Linda/Les & Annie – The First Female to Male Transsexual Love Story, Annie Sprinkle, Albert Jacoma & Jonny Armstong, 1989

© Michael Dennis, 2014