It was the 80s and gay girls at our high school got the hell beat out of them by Marcy Rae Henry

It was the 80s and gay girls at our high school got the hell beat out of them

Too much truthtelling in poetry. It ain’t lyrical.
Stick with your own kind. Smoldering
and unwashed and looking for the nearest spigot.

That’s more like life.
But the thing is, there was a drama teacher.
Asymmetrical haircut. Glasses on a long chain of beads.
And a love scene: You have to kiss whoever I pair you with.

She looked at me and added, Even if you have a boyfriend.
Wasn’t the first time she looked. Or threatened to fail me.
And in her Birkenstocks and floral scarves, she failed me
alright, as only our kind can do.

The day of my kiss the boyfriend and I ditched to do our own
scene. Truant officers in those days. And everything happened
before I understood the success of arranged marriages.

Back in class, We’ve raised the stakes, she said meaning just her.
Now you have to kiss a girl in order to pass.
People love stakes when it doesn’t concern them.

That is to say, the class was in on it. A peahen trying to be a peacock
stood up. There are times when I’d ask god WTF if I could find him.
But then, just No, no, no. I can’t.

They were in the center of the room, iridescent as soap bubbles.
I was red and looking for the nearest spigot. It wasn’t even
the beginning of full circle. Just years of what did she see in me?


Marcy Rae Henry is a multidisciplinary artist, una Latina/x/e and an advocate/member of the LGBTQ community. Her writing has received a Chicago Community Arts Assistance Grant, an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize nomination and first prize in Suburbia’s 2021 Novel Excerpt Contest. DoubleCross Press is publishing her chapbook We Are Primary Colors. M.R. Henry is an associate editor for RHINO.