"[P]oetry makes nothing happen: it survives, / [...] a way of happening, a mouth." -W. H. Auden

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Way They Loved Each Other: A Hate Crime in Asheville

"Blue, Green, and Brown, 1951" by Mark Rothko

I was assaulted at 12:30 am this Thursday in a parking lot at a local grocery store by 4 teenagers for no other reason than that they thought my shorts were too short and that I looked like a "faggot." Swollen face and jaw, black eye, was up all night with nausea and roiling emotions, then threw up at 4:30 am. Went to the ER. 3 fractures in my face.

Below is a poem I wrote about the incident. I don't feel any anger against the perpetrators, only confusion and pity and sadness. I do want them brought to justice and to face the consequences of their hatefulness and violence, but not because I hate them. 

The Way They Loved Each Other

What to be more astonished at:
my calm as the fist made contact
and I saw a flash of white
and the world went silent
as if I had stepped out of it
momentarily, only to be brought back
with a rush of sound and visible objects -- 
the way I asked them to help me
find my glasses, expecting them 
(even as they taunted me,
even though they had just assaulted me)
to feel underneath the violent tribal urge
the obligations of empathy --
the way even as one of them found my glasses
and smashed them again on the ground
I refused to believe that was really
what he wanted to do -- the way
they loved each other 
in the most primitive manner
but loved each other nonetheless
despite feeling the need to punish a "faggot"
who did not dress like them, because
he did not dress like them --
the way tears and nausea overwhelmed me
nightlong much more than had the blow itself --
the way such small suffering can feel
unbearable -- the way no strength is found
for what seems to have no explanation,
a troubled mind more harmful
to the body than fractured bones.


  1. So sorry Luke -- my daughter (Ashley) told me about this, loves you to pieces and I just wanted to say that I'm thinking about you (and your attackers). Certainly don't understand it, but I hope like you that justice is served, but more importantly that you are getting better quickly!

  2. My Thoughts and Prayers are with You... I must say that I admire, for lack of a more fitting word, the way in which you have expressed your truth through poetry. It struck me at the core of who I am and renewed my compassion for those I don't understand. Peace, Light and Love to You...

  3. Hi Luke, I just heard you read your poem on MPR, and I was moved to seek you out and write that I feel your sadness, and hope that your poem helps those in similar situations deal with their pain. Thank you for being vocal, honest and strong.