The World's Athletes

A poem


Sitting there long enough, I got a free coffee

& the grouchy homophobic waiter ate the two leftover tacos,

watching on television figure skater couples

who looked like women, whatever that means,

who looked homosexual, whatever I mean by that,

in the country of vodka & bad pop music,

Mandelstam’s shivering, Akhmatova’s prayers,

all the athletes who bruised their shins in Vancouver,

sniffled past tent city & into waterfront condos,

all the homosexual lovers snuggling in the snow.


Even the most committed allies don’t want to miss hockey.


They said you couldn’t kiss us. They said.

Couldn’t feel this. They said.

The numb snow. What aids. What abets.

An advertisement for an alcoholic beverage

featuring one man, one woman.

I have given up my athletic refusals.

Have woken next to a lover in shiny tights.

Four years ago we were reading poetry in tent city.

It was temporary, for us at least, right?

But the tenderness lasts.

“I am different from you.” This was said four years ago.

And later: “How could I have ever thought I was different from you?”

To wake up four years later, walk up to the stage

& let them wrap gold so coldly, so tightly around your neck.