In 1977 I lived in New Haven, Connecticut.
There are hundreds of reasons I loved my time in New Haven.
One was Manhattan was an hour away by train.
I took Amtrak to New York at least twice a month to hang out in the Village.
One weekend in the Fall of 1977 I stopped for a drink at Uncle Charlie’s on Greenwich Avenue.
I met a hot guy who invited me home.
He had a studio apartment with a bed, a chair and a nightstand.
On the nightstand was a book of poems by Harold Norse, Carnivorous Saint.
A devouring saint?
I sat on the bed and opened the book.
I’d never seen poetry like this before.
I said good-bye to the hot guy, raced to the bookstore, got Carnivorous Saint, and hopped the train back to New Haven.
I was smitten.
The poetry in Carnivorous Saint was political, sexy and full of humor.
Norse used his poetry to define gay liberation in language that included working class men.
Norse is a working class man who declares that he is not a Man:
I’m Not A Man
I’m not a man, I can’t earn a living, buy new things for my family.
I have acne and a small peter.
I’m not a man. I don’t like football, boxing and cars.
I like to express my feeling. I even like to put an arm
around my friend’s shoulder.
I’m not a man. I won’t play the role assigned to me- the role created
by Madison Avenue, Playboy, Hollywood and Oliver Cromwell,
Television does not dictate my behavior.
I’m not a man. Once when I shot a squirrel I swore that I would
never kill again. I gave up meat. The sight of blood makes me sick.
I like flowers.
I’m not a man. I went to prison resisting the draft. I do not fight
when real men beat me up and call me queer. I dislike violence.
I’m not a man. I have never raped a woman. I don’t hate blacks.
I do not get emotional when the flag is waved. I do not think I should
love America or leave it. I think I should laugh at it.
I’m not a man. I have never had the clap.
I’m not a man. Playboy is not my favorite magazine.
I’m not a man. I cry when I’m unhappy.
I’m not a man. I do not feel superior to women
I’m not a man. I don’t wear a jockstrap.
I’m not a man. I write poetry.
I’m not a man. I meditate on peace and love.
I’m not a man. I don’t want to destroy you
San Francisco, 1972
There is more to my story about Harold Norse but that is for another post.
To learn more about the poet, Harold Norse, click here: