I Just Learned About Gay Panic

By: Connor Nielsen
This was very much a wish I made, I think. I learned about this legal defense, that it was still applicable in several states, and I was just tired. I didn’t have the strength to be angry, though I wanted to be. I think of it as a prayer, or a spell. For me, it felt necessary. -Author

The gay panic defense is a legal strategy in which a defendant claims they acted in a state of violent, temporary insanity, committing assault or murder, because of unwanted same-sex sexual advances

 

Hesitant to release my heels, the earth
calls to me. Holds my feet one moment
too long. I once dreamt of being rooted
so firmly that I could not be moved,
could not be shaken.

 

 

Many times I fantasized dancing  until my feet bled
into damp earth   and where the fresh crimson scattered   virulent
or otherwise   soil was made fertile   lifebloom   petals bramble
thorns weeds   because who am I to place value
on anything that aches to live?

 

 

I can’t sit, can’t lay my back to the ground. These woods
have grown quick, the trees warped and twisted
without a moon to guide them. Gnarled fingers
branch towards me, beckoning. I know, now, that to follow
means I won’t find my way back.

 

 

Father   gift me with rage   let me be
what Wrath was named for   make me new
in the image of tempest   of maelstrom   of
elements wrapped around one another
until they are a gown   a body   a host
of destruction and intent

 

Because I am not angry. I am tired.

 

 

Connor Nielsen

Connor Nielsen was born in Warren, Ohio, on a late night in June in 1994, which makes him a Cancer. He doesn’t know if that’s important, but likes to think it is. His poetry has appeared previously in Write On, Downtown and Gingerbread House. He currently lives in San Marcos, Texas, and holds an MFA in poetry from Texas State University.

Featured image by: Anthony Roberts; @arcreates

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