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explanation for a bad attitude

(for Matthew Shepard, 1976-1998)

by Danielle Montgomery

i think of you slumped against
that wyoming fence bloody
matted blond hair sticking out like straw
clothes ripped shoes stolen
face puffed and swollen
brain filling with fluid
as people drive by
thinking you're a scarecrow

next morning
after a biker cuts you down
the boys who beat you
burned you
sliced your skin
whine
we didn't mean to
kill
the fag but he was
flirting with us

as your parents sit by your hospital bed
watch the green light go flat
hear your heart thump to its last halt
some frat boys add a scarecrow
to their homecoming float
get a good laugh
from the stuffed faggot strung up on a flatbed truck

at night
even castro queers
can barely keep from pissing our pants
at the sound of every car door slam
because in our guts we know
those nice boys from next door
wait on our corners too
swinging baseball bats singing
come out come out wherever you are


Danielle Montgomery is an MFA student at Mills College and a member of the Poetry For The People extended family.

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