Charlie, the night you clawed
your lifeless body down the hall,
found your way through the dark
to your neighbors phone booth,
three men detached your door,
tied your hands to the bedpost,
ripped clothes from your body,
took razors to skin, carved lesbian
across your stomach, painted
the walls queer, let gasoline
flow across your floor, to burn
your forest to the ground
thousands gathered on the steps
of the capital. lit a sleeping town alive.
Refusing to blow out the candle
that was ignited with you. You were
the victim of the worst kind of crime.
We gathered on the meadow for you.
When the news shared your tale
your shaking voice swelled our throats.
we held your hurt in our Adams apple.
But it was you who bought the zip ties
that bound your hands to the bedpost.
Carved faggot across your own chest,
hands lined with gasoline. You wept
when the ambulance took you away
the tears you shed were forged
from dried up streams. The pain
was self-inflicted . Police found
white gloves on your living room floor.
You wanted to be the catalyst for change.
Now, you face up to a year in prison.
But we are still here, sitting
on the steps of the capitol
waiting for a something organic
to bloom gay rights across the Sandhills.
We will still be here, but not for you.
When they hand you their verdict
in the most precious envelope.
A community of people could have used
your story to show how much hate
is harbored in the good life.
You are a selfish martyr;
a counterfeit hate crime.
You can be the catalyst for change
without deconstructing Stonewall
brick by brick, without tearing
the seams of the AIDS quilt.
We have gained so much momentum,
your brakes have backed up cars for miles.
Most already hate us, you are giving
them one more reason. You are drying
the blood that has already been shed.
We need you here beside us,
marching with us, fighting with us,
instead of boxing yourself into gloves
that can never be removed.
We need you here.
We want you here.