KIRBY is the author of WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE CALLED? (Anstruther Press, 2020), THIS IS WHERE I GET OFF (Permanent Sleep Press, 2019), SHE’S HAVING A DORIS DAY (knife | fork | book, 2017). Forthcoming POETRY IS QUEER (Palimpsest, Fall 2021) and NOT YOUR BEST no 2 [editor]. She is the publisher, book fairy at knife | fork | book [Toronto] jeffkirby.ca.
from Poetry Is Queer out Fall 2021, Palimpsest Press
It’s just after 7pm the first of the year and I’m thinking how long I want to continue. Play this out.
I’ve put on some serious poundage since this whole mess started [“We all have Cher!” my friend Christopher chimes]. Breathing is laborious. Hell, going anywhere is.
I step onto my balcony. There’s light flurries made magical in the orangey-glow of the lamps along Church. I light the lantern and a pre-roll, as I do most nights. Someone has to keep this corner pretty.
People are out. Walking. To where? Everything’s pretty much closed. Sucks living in a city you can’t enjoy.
I could go for a walk. It’s mild.
I miss peoples faces.
“Stay home. Don’t go outside. Period. A message from your Ontario Government.”
Thank God she’s on the second floor.
Make a tall GnT w/fresh cucumber (salad, possibly dinner)… A gummy? Sure! She’s watching RuPaul tonight.
Go to my room, my current cell of sorts, what to play? Red House Painters. Really doll? Well… Exactly. Deep fucking well. “Mark Kozelek’s pain is our gain.” There’s comfort in the familiar.
And that’s more than I can ever give you.
Suzanne, early on, “I know not to worry about you, cause you enjoy your own company.”
The fact that I’m accustomed to being alone as a homosexual for as long as I can remember. That’s just home base.
This strange thing happened.
That family zoom call with Suzanne Christmas Eve, one day out of the hospital, the one I would have left if not for how much it mattered for my mom to see all four of her children’s faces.
“I did this,” she said.
Not sinking in until days later that she was—is still—someone, that this is who she is, a person who lived to do exactly this, be the mother of four.
We are so alike. The single wish to be seen, recognized as/for who we are.
My sweet friend Dre who made me come full stop face to face at a party, “Kirby, I’m right here, in front of you, see me,” but to see him would mean my desire for him [for Rex for David for Randy for Ron for Alex for Vincent for Chris for] would been seen and I didn’t want that, not that night.
Not my desires exactly, they were in fact quite tame, often welcomed.
No, these are the last remnants of being wrong for being. Here. At all.
That old View-Master.
“I’m not going to protect you from my love.”
Body, remember, not only all the times you have been loved
Not only the beds where you have lain down.
But also those desires which for you
Shone clearly in the eyes,
And trembled in the voice – and some
Chance accident brought them to nothing.
And now, when all that is in the past,
They seem very like those desires
To which you gave yourself – how they shone,
Remember, in the eyes that looked at you;
How they trembled in the voice, for you, body, remember.
[C. P. Cavafy trans Robert Liddell]
Is it time?
Not tonight. A romantic notion. A thought.
“Hey Mom, I heard what you said the other night…”
“Why? What did I say?”
“That you did this.”
“That you had us four kids.”
“O, yes, I loved having you four kids.”
“Happy New Year, mom.”
“You too, loved your call, bye, bye-bye.”
Kirby visits Brockton Writers Series via ephemera series on Wednesday, January 13, 2021 starting at 6:30pm alongside Laure Baudot, Dominik Parisien, and Sonal Champsee. Our guest speaker, Cree-Métis scholar Deanna Reder, will give her talk on, “Supporting Indigenous Authors: from the archives to the Indigenous Voices Awards”.
Special note: As we adapt to current social distancing regulations, we’re happy to announce our event will be hosted by the wonderful ephemera series! They have already done their show online multiple times, so we are thrilled to benefit from their technical expertise, while also increasing collaboration within the literary community and growing connections between organizers, authors, and audience. You can attend the event by watching on the ephemera series YouTube channel. Please log in at 6:30.