Pulse and Shattering

I am an old dyke. I’ve been out and proud since 1977 – a long time. When I came out, it wasn’t like it is now, even in NYC, where I lived. The bars were where we went to be ourselves. There was no other space. In the bars, we could breathe (through the omnipresent thick haze of cigarette smoke); we could be ourselves – let down our proverbial hair. And we could dance. All night. Even those of us who were terrible, inhibited dancers could dance. That we did – til 4 am most weekends. Then we went out to the Empire Diner, had an early breakfast, and went home to bed.

It’s gotten so much better since those days. There’s been a definite path forward for us, even though many have been attacked, and many have died. I almost believed that our worst days were behind us. I know, intellectually, that they are. But in my heart, my shattered heart, it feels like all the struggles of my generation and those before me have been for naught. Since Sunday morning, I have been broken.

This is personal. It’s different – not more awful than the other mass murders committed with the weapons of mass destruction that were designed for the military – because I’m an old dyke, and I don’t want my people murdered.

When I don’t know what to do, I write. Over the past couple of days, I wrote this poem (although, truth be told, it came to me early Monday morning, virtually intact):


June – the month of Pride

Saturday night at the club

Pulsating with energy, celebration,

undulating bodies move as one,

bodies grinding, awash

with sweat and sex

safe to be all they are, letting down

guards, letting out love

freely, openly, joyfully.

Music pounds into souls, the energy

of the dance floor programmed

by the pulse of its inhabitants.


Without skipping a beat, a different

rhythm erupts…BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM!

over and over and over and over

a relentless barrage of bullets

randomly sprayed toward the mass

of celebrants. Dancers dive

for cover; lucky ones

scatter/run/crawl away (or hide

for hours under the unlucky

dead bodies splayed about them).

Bullets pierce bodies, extinguishing

49 young lives, souls who a moment before

had not a care in the world but to exude

love and pride, pride and joy, joy and hope.

For the future.


There is no sense in mass murder

hatred and pain so deep that only death

will assuage the fear…of the other.

Heal the hate

Refuse the rage

Renew the right – to live

Out and proud

Filled with promise for the future

Moving forward to dance

once more, la vida loca

pulsing through our souls.



About armsakimbobook

I'm a mother, a lawyer, a feminist, a writer, a potter, and an inveterate and unapologetic New Yorker. My book, Arms Akimbo: A Journey of Healing, tells of my journey of healing over a number of years, learning to live a full life after I was molested by my father at a very young age. I live in Maynard, MA, with my wife and and our two moose-cats, Samson and Hercules. My daughter used to live with me part-time, but she's all grown up now and in her junior year of college, which I can't quite fathom, since she was born about five minutes ago...
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