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Wednesday, July 29, 2015


by David Pring-Mill

After nearly seven decades in Wyoming, for much of that time facing heartbreak, discrimination and even physical violence, the cross-dresser has finally decided to leave the Cowboy State. Sissy Goodwin, who was profiled in the Los Angeles Times in 2013 for his insistence, despite an often-macho Western ethic, to lead the life he chooses -- as a man who prefers to dress in women's clothing -- is retiring in May from his job as a college science instructor in Casper. He and his wife, Vickie, are moving to the Portland, Ore., area, where they plan to buy a small farm and raise goats and chickens. —Los Angeles Times, April 4, 2015. Photo: Sissy Goodwin, seen here in 2013, has decided to leave Wyoming for Oregon. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Black air was wrapped ’round in elegant gown.
Consistent blare revealed proclivity.
Darkly dress augmented ignited crown.
Sounds spiraled and dimmed with activity.
Buildings trumpeted their presence at skies.
Stars could not outshine the cemented queen ―
Despite fires bright and wide as babies’ eyes,
none could adorn the head of gaudy sheen.
People strode and strutted in worshipped styles.
A woman skipped and wore a tie-dye shirt.
Colors rambunctiously splashed on textiles.
The woman and a man began to flirt.
Bodies blended into the fair city.
Winds whistled out a whimsical ditty.

In cracked sidewalk, an empty square remained,
filled with fluffed, deprived, and struggling grasses,
in place of the tall tree it once contained.
Tattered papers flew from college classes
as our light pollution masked over stars.
I saw a weeping form, drenched in darkness.
I squinted, for assumption often jars.
The edge of coned light revealed, in starkness,
A curled up cross-dresser, badly beaten,
bruises swelling a face now black and blue.
I cried, “Justice strike each twisted cretin!
I’ll call for help! What have they done to you?”
He said, “They loathe their own hidden weakness,
and attack those few who walk with meekness.”

I offered a hand and helped him to stand.
He said, “Fists will never defeat the soul,
destroy a concept, or bear true command.”
He patted my back and resumed his stroll.
I noticed a church that seemed grandiose.
It summoned an ingrained, quiet respect
fed to me in youth in dogmatic dose.
The old church stood as a sacred object
revered more than other bricks and mortars,
for the innate value of a symbol
may lift buildings from shapes to high quarters.
Apt symbol could aggrandize a thimble!
I yelled, “Why should man strive for salvation,
with evil sewn into all creation?”

I ran, renouncing all bewitchery,
spotted the hurt man’s ensanguined shirt, cried,
“How do you mitigate the misery?”
and watched as he calmly turned and replied,
“Although they were determined to hurt me,
only I can determine that effect;
their scheme crumbles if I do not agree
to receive shame they sought to redirect.”
I said, “Such men should not be in our streets.”
He said, “The span of those men’s lives and deeds
dwindles compared to the breadth of love’s feats.
Love has conquered the earth, and love precedes
and follows us all, and though fear may spread,
there is not an inch that love cannot tread.”

I stood sedated in humility.
He walked away, spiritually unharmed,
but then I felt new incivility,
and thought, “Lord, though your world leaves victims charmed,
are we, the makers of dense light clusters
on shadowed continental designs,
meant to be morality adjusters?
What are the semantics of dreamlike signs?
Are you the artist and we the artwork,
capable of launching revolution?
Am I a self-possessed statue with quirks,
who now must seek formal absolution?
Is every deviation a mistake,
or a miracle to which we awake?”

A bus bustled, with interior lit.
The metal tube emitted grinding puffs.
Night air still had a nip that gently bit.
Fluorescents and neon caught sights like cuffs.
The bulbs blackened, though they tried to expose,
for clarity is sharp in sheer absence.
When fists strike and pummel faces in blows,
the matter of people lacks shape or sense ―
The darkness is real, rife with purity.
Should absence and steel containers compete,
I’d consider star-lit obscurity,
if not deep void, where silence and peace meet.
People shuffled on the bus, sat, and leaned,
and above in trees, the hidden birds preened.

David Pring-Mill is a writer and award-winning filmmaker. His poems have been published in Poetry Quarterly, Boston Literary Magazine, Crack the Spine, Eunoia Review, Page & Spine, Songs of Eretz Poetry Review, and East Coast Literary Review. He is also author of the poetry book Age of the Appliance. @davesaidso