A Goddamn Lady

poetry by Randi M. Romo

A Goddamn Lady

You wore your tragedy like haute couture

a magnificent creation that had all eyes

on you as you pony stomped down life’s

runway, a country boy who hauled ice for

a living, who, come Friday and Saturday

nights transformed into, as you so elegantly

put it, a goddamn lady, resplendent in

rhinestone laden gowns, a burning star

in the midst of the dark, smoky havens

of our homes away from the homes we’d

left or been cast out from, these ninety-proof

lairs of salvation where we forged new

families, hammering out our existence to

disco and showtunes, while you reigned

fiercely with just a touch of trailer trash

a queen, risen from the ashes, of used to be

The cough, it came with the winter, thought

it was a cold until that moment when we knew

that it wasn’t, that terrible day the tests

came back, Pneumocystis pneumonia, and

yes, you were HIV-positive, a script for AZT

and the pity in the nurse’s eyes, as the doctor

advised you to get your affairs in order, long

term survival, most likely not in the cards

the truth of that, echoed in the many names

of those we’d lost already, as the crisis bloomed

into a funerary corsage deemed appropriate

for “those people” who deserved what they got

while the White House, silently ignored

the deaths of queers, junkies and whores

Tears and whiskey filled a lot of the early days

the progression measured in the circumference

of my arms around you, as little by little your

body began to slip away from you, though

you danced until your legs would no longer

hold you, your shoulders unable to bear the

weight of your gowns, your lips no longer able

to mouth the words that you could no longer

remember, your trembling hands unable to hold

a mascara wand, the light in your eyes dimming

as the stage lights went dark, that final moment

when we gave you back to whence you’d come

after it was all done, I got into the car with a bottle

and drove for miles, until I found myself, out in

the middle of nowhere lying upon the hood, looking

up into the night time sky, imagining the stars

Swarovski crystals, adorning your final curtain call

Romo is a 62 yr. old, Latinx, queer woman, writer, artist, a long-time activist and organizer. She is currently a dialysis tech, working and living in Little Rock, AR. Despite having a formal education that only went to the 6th grade, Romo has emerged as an exceptional, narrative, poetic storyteller. Her education disrupted by the harsh consequences of an era that  did its best to erase the truth of her identity. Incarceration in a state mental hospital for two years and a religious based school for another, took a toll on her, that manifested in a decade long campaign to burn herself to the ground. Through it all, she continued to write, honing her own style of poetry that is both memoir and observational. 

 

In 2018, Romo saw her first book, OTHERED, published by the Little Rock based, Sibling Rivalry Press. OTHERED is the first book in Sibling Rivalry's Arkansas Queer Poet Series. It was also named a top-five title of 2018 by the American Library's GLBT Roundtable. Romo has recently finished her second manuscript, Blood & Halos.

Randi M. Romo

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