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Sword and Shield

by Max S. Gordon on September 11, 2011

in 9/11 Ten Year Anniversary,Arts,culture,Max S. Gordon

Post image for Sword and Shield

1.
Picking up my sword and shield,
I put on the uniform of the world.

They say
men should be at war.
We make love in private
and exchange
a handshake by the door,
so no one will see.
This is a story I cannot tell.
There is the name I carry with me.

Like a good soldier
Like a good boy
You buried your joy of the world
inside me
and there I keep it safe.
The others knew a hero,
But only I knew your true loveliness.

He trained you well, your father.
The mask you wore
was fashioned from years of his brutality.
He saw the gentle, eager boy
And tried to destroy the word he couldn’t bring himself to say.

This story should never be told.

Sixteen years I am your friend, lover and then husband
The richness of our life absorbed in the walls of our quiet cage.
I never asked you to expose.
You never asked me to obey.
Men like us
exist in simultaneous worlds;
sharing a holy union,
separate and profound.

And then you were taken from me.
And from among the scattered ashes
I could make no widow’s claim.
Because I wasn’t allowed to say your name.
This story should never be told.
This is a name I will not betray.

So I waited.
And no one came to comfort
And no one came to mourn
Because no one knew our delicate room existed.
But us.

2.
I carry my sword and shield.
I put on the uniform of the world.

And I say to that world
which requires men to love
in clandestine chambers
And to the father who would have smashed his soul
As crumbling metal of that day smashed his body

You never reached his heart.
I had his heart.

And this is a story that will be told.
This is the name I carry with me.
A name I finally say.

Dan. Dan. Dan. Dan. Dan.

“Sword and Shield,” by Max Gordon, is the text for a dance performance entitled, “Armide’s Revenge”, performed by Carlos Fittante, Artistic Director of the BALAM Dance Theater, and premiered at the Cool New York Dance Festival, February 3, 2011.

 

Max Gordon is a writer and activist. He has been published in the anthologies Inside Separate Worlds: Life Stories of Young Blacks, Jews and Latinos (University of Michigan Press, 1991), Go the Way Your Blood Beats: An Anthology of African-American Lesbian and Gay Fiction (Henry Holt, 1996) and Mixed Messages: An Anthology of Literature to Benefit Hospice and Cancer Causes. His work has also appeared on openDemocracy, Democratic Underground and Truthout, in Z Magazine, Gay Times, Sapience, and other progressive on-line and print magazines in the U.S. and internationally.

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