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The Author Is Dead

Juliano Zaffino - The Author Is Dead - Blog

Heteroland Assortment

Juliano Zaffino

 'Like the steady hum of the engine / Hurtling on through Heteroland country'

'Like the steady hum of the engine / Hurtling on through Heteroland country'

What follows is an assortment of six disparate poems from an in-progress series of poems titled 'Adventures In Heteroland'

1. Bloodline
2. Profile
3. Trainride Through Heteroland
4. Proud
5. All My Burdens
6. Life Story

*

Bloodline

The poems have died in my veins,
Sure – but there was a time
They were alive and kicking –
Breathing mostly in my mind
And gasping up on the page –

But the passage is stopped up –
All words meaningless,
My first language atomised,
A cold and nothing wasteland,
The blood turning solid inside me –

I’m obsessed with qualitative difference
In the sickly bloodstream,
The poison blindly inflicted
By water and air in Heteroland –
It replaces every drop of blood –

I want to write love songs
I want to write protest signs
I want to write myself happy,
Writing into oblivion and further.
But all that comes out is this:

Oh, this plaintive wailing;
A quagmire of irresolution;
And one contrived ending
Full of insincere optimism,
The blood will flood again!

*

Profile

“I’m not into faceless beings”, he says,
His face a generic blend of average twinkness,
Denoting nothing of any significance
Except for my own unattractive worthlessness.

This is a vapid place where vapid people go
To do vapid people things, burning up oxygen
With nothing but the slack-jawed drawing of breath.
I want to be vapid too. I want to be vapid like you.

We have learned from the emperors of Heteroland
To value faces and straightness and coded self-hatred
And fetishize all the unqueer nothings that bore us,
The orange wasteland a Guess Who? of our worst images.

*

Trainride Through Heteroland

He is sitting alone in front of you
Minding His business with a book
And the train stops at Wembley
Filling with dead-drunk men
When a particularly large and rude one
Shambling zombie-like
Takes the empty seat beside Him
Suffocating His comfort.

Now with contemptuous glances
Sizing Him up, the pink jumper,
The man mutters something –
Pretending not to hear
He puts His book down absently
Hiding His phone screen,
The desolate wasteland of Grindr,
Cutting His own hands off,
Shoulders bunched together ever closer
Growing ever smaller,
And the goodness of His Saturday
Dwindling now to rage
Like the steady hum of the engine
Hurtling on through Heteroland country –

You are there and you do nothing
Waiting for your stop to come.

*

Proud

You look so good in latex honey
I bet you’re sweaty
I bet it’s kind of freeing
To show off every part of you
Admired by your girlfriend
And her girlfriends
And all the men around you
Who want that tightness
They have no idea they can’t have
You’re the native son of Heteroland
But you look amazing
It’s any excuse to get drunk
You won’t get hate-crimed later
You’re a fucking lad

*

 All My Burdens

I carry a thousand infants
Weights around my neck
They humiliate
And coldly isolate me

There are toddlers
In my nightmares
Wailing their need
I can do nothing, dying

And children wake me
Hands like hooks
Snagging on my heart
They drag me into land

Even today alone
I have carried a pushchair
Up a flight of stairs
Underground, ashamed

I should have no babies
In Heteroland’s rule
All depravity and unlove
This lawless family

Will I ever be free
Escape from under
Burdensome children
How they hate me

*

Life Story

It’s not as interesting as you think
Your life story
It’s been lived before
A hundred times
Every damaged gay inhabitant of Heteroland
It was the premise of five screenplays
Last year alone
Your anguish is a trope
The joke they tell themselves
After fucking

Why would that stop you
The truth is irrelevant
When you are gloriously fucked up
An authentic artifice
Smithed in the fires of rage and abuse
Your sadness is orgasmic
The depths
Accessorising trauma
At parties in small circles online in prayer
It makes you so fucking cool
They all wish they were you

Open / Unmoored

Juliano Zaffino

 'Run aground in search of clarity / The borderless homestead Heteroland'

'Run aground in search of clarity / The borderless homestead Heteroland'

Open

Love is a closed door
And I am an axe-wielding maniac
Who doesn’t even try the handle
I just want to get through
To be in the same room as you
Put your hands over my eyes
And blind me to a world I’ve never loved

The more that I am craving
Is in your desperate, fleeting grasp
Give me everything I want
It is not enough
A life so perfectly formed
Has nothing to do with me
Is lost far out at sea, capsizing

Our married friends could never understand
That there are unions
Unsanctified in Heteroland
That renegade affection is a grenade
In the hand of hate, the pin is in mine

Our married friends have less love to give
They are selfishly surviving
Jealous of others’ finite resources

And even the cynic has more love to give
Spending it liberally, lovingly,
“My cup, she never overfloweth”,
His love is ever growing

*

Unmoored

I’m a homo
I wander the street
I wonder what’s here for me
Between the knife-edge of fear
And toxic masculinity
Dimly lit in the pre-midnight haze
My shoes a clicking signal
hit-me hit-me hit-me
And the beasts swarming
And the horror unfolding
“Relentlessly restless”
Pushing, doors and walls
And freight trains stopping

I’m a homo
I am writing it all down
Because my heirs will need it
This map of the land’s cancers
A depiction of bloodlines
Intersecting darkly with the river
When was the world ever less mine
Than in the dark, in this shirt?
Adrift in memories of men
And the madness that brought me here
Missing an anchor
I make a note, won’t let it go

I’m a homo
I am looking for: “sanctuary”
It’s more important than love
Or right now with a stranger
Hard to find safety in a wasps’ nest
Coated in your own sugary blood
And born to disrupt the climate
I just want to blend
It’s a crime to be so distinct
To stain the whites of their eyes
I look in books, I look online
I look in space, for: “sanctuary”

I’m a homo
Alone

I’m a homo
Roaming

I’m a fucking homo
I am urban flotsam and debris
The city moves me outside farther
Says please, keep moving,
Wants me out of Heteroland
A pollutant to family values
And catastrophic agent
Of society’s epic decay
Sinner unwelcome in heaven
Or my hometown, a target
Moving out of sight quick,
Quick now moving, invisible faggot
With no port to stop me
Cartographic expedition
Run aground in search of clarity
The borderless homestead Heteroland
I am I am I am I am I am

Department for Tourism

Juliano Zaffino

 'I’m just an angry zealot / A heathen in the house of allies / It’s lonely in Heteroland'

'I’m just an angry zealot / A heathen in the house of allies / It’s lonely in Heteroland'

Hey tourist
Why are you watching my struggle
Is this on your access pass
Will you ever stop appropriating
I do not give you my words
I do not give you my colours
Tourist, fucking tourist,
You do not have permission
Not all things are for you
Just carry on breeding
And taking space up freely
And patronising your friends

Ignore me
I’m just an angry zealot
A heathen in the house of allies
It’s lonely in Heteroland
Taking up so much space
And being so little
You’re doing your best
And it doesn’t affect you at all
I can’t be grateful for those
Treats you baked one time
Or that meme you shared
And I have no interest in Queer Eye
Because no one is entitled
To our true superiority

Hey tourist
I think I might just hate you
Even when we eat pizza together
I’ll be there on your wedding day
With bouquets and a machete
Guess what I’ll throw first
And when I babysit your spawn
I’ll whisper hatred in its ear
Tell homo-horror at bedtime
That’s my gay agenda
Colour coded in irony more pink
Than you can sink your teeth into

Listen up
You have arrived at the epicentre
The closet door is Chernobyl
You are immune to radiation
The rest of us dying slow deaths
In a quicksand amphitheatre
Exhibits in a torture museum
And corpses strewn about
Ravaged foreign landscapes
Pornographic agony on a loop
Your circus sideshow endless genocide
Enjoy yourself fucking gawking
Tourist haunting my world,
I am an exile in yours.

A Summer Trilogy (In A Heatwave In 2018 / Soft Furnishings / Summer Ambition)

Juliano Zaffino

 'The summer and I dance / With hands enfolded together / As a monument to possibility.'

'The summer and I dance / With hands enfolded together / As a monument to possibility.'

In A Heatwave In 2018

I’m nostalgic for shivering myself to sleep
Inching ever closer to your thrumming skin.
In these summer months when air threatens
A gulf opens up between us and I never know
When or how we’ll bridge the human distance.
For a time I’ll sleep in some other person’s bed,
On a sofa or the floor, if you can part from me,
If you can bear the ever unforgiving touch
Of my unconsciously glacial back facing you.
There is the you I am writing to and the you
I started writing about and you are not the same.
It’s the middle of July and I’m already thinking
About grey winter mornings and waking up with you.

*

Soft Furnishings

“You owe it to yourself
To be more than just soft furnishings”,
Is a thing I think you say jokingly
– I know it is –
But it is a thing I feel infinitely deeply
When I lie down to sleep, when I wake,
When I am buying food that makes me miserable.

I think of all the times I furnish other people’s lives –
Knotted doormat
Bruised doorhandle
Filthy sink
Sturdy table
Twenty step-ladders
Change-tables for the infancy of malice
A flag locked up in the closet ­–
Satanic shopping list living, seething.
I tell myself I’m a centrepiece
But even the consolation prize is glorified waste.

It is easy to take and it is easier
To be taken from, to be moulded,
And much harder to love another
With yourself in equal measure,
Not to just debase yourself for their gain.
The gift of concrete value
Is a new and holy sustenance
That I will crave perpetually from your lips.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
And I am holding your eye in mine,
The sheen of a playful fake tear
Telling much more than it means to,
Reaching out with recklessness saying
“I have also made myself an accessory”
And in the silence we acknowledge that.
The thing I told you first, I think jokingly
– I know it was not –
Is that I would be a pillow for you,
That I would hold your head up,
That I would tell you all the things
That you could not tell yourself.

And in this moment we are both of us
Softly furnishing the others’ home
With mirrors brimming full of love
And curtains keeping rays off
And the gift of wall-space big enough
For a thousand painted portraits
We will make of each other, beholding.

*

Summer Ambition

I want to achieve a new level
Of purposeful ambiguity
When I write about the summer
It is really a lover
I court and capture in my sleep.

The summer and I dance
With hands enfolded together
As a monument to possibility.

The heat of the summer
Makes me undress at odd times
And leaves me hopeless
With all the things it keeps
Pent up inside of me, the rage,
The promise of hotter tomorrows.

The summer makes me wish
That I was beautiful unreservedly
And friction could melt the excess
Leave me with nothing
But love and sweat and longing
For an endless summer swelter
And a ceasefire on real meanings
Of the words I mean when I speak
That this summer has made me.

Strasbourg

Juliano Zaffino

 'Frenetic with the fever / I shiver in Strasbourg / Dancing still in place'

'Frenetic with the fever / I shiver in Strasbourg / Dancing still in place'

In my mind
I went to Strasbourg months ago
I have been dancing to an overwhelming silence
With an overabundance of corpses,
Mostly women
Made frail with their final choreography
Sweating off the madness
And the sadness that has shaken me,
Shaking off the excess and the burden
So I’m freer to keep on dancing like before
When I was younger,
When the world was much smaller
And I could spin it to my rhythm,
As the music enveloped me
I felt love for the first time, unconditionally,
This is a plague possessing me,
Jealous of stillness and oxygen –

Dancing to Florence, dancing to Patti
Dancing to Kate and Nick and David
Surrounded by oceans and horses
And mountains and warcrimes and questions
Just an instrument, moved to muster
This motion, to master my own feet
Into perfection, into oblivion
I dance on a drumbeat’s edge
I want to be happy, I want to be weightless
In Strasbourg with a young man
Perpetual narcissist
Punching the air on tip-toes
Singing songs about myself –

Dancing to the death I go
Circling ‘round peripheries
Of vision and logic and sense
Frenetic with the fever
I shiver in Strasbourg
Dancing still in place
Like a tundra at nightfall
Frozen and falling
Shards of evanescent brightness
In the fast encroaching dark
Gliding, moved by a breeze
Until resting for a second undisturbed
Breathing and then off again, airborne,
Bound to cascade until the end, melting –

I am lighter
Dancing the weight off
Dancing the plague off
Ever lighter letting go
Spinning in the vain hope
I might take flight out of Strasbourg
Out of earth
And keep on dancing
In the stars
In the blackness
In the after
In my mind
Dancing –