Letter from the Divine Whatever to the Newly Out
(from cutting and pasting the words to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”)
By Jane Cassady
I’m on the way.
You were born ready to orient yourself,
and no other way.
Track decades like starfields.
I love this record and I love you.
Be ready to transubstantiate.
Go far, outcast or enveloped, usually both.
Who you are is a religion.
When I was stars,
I didn’t have to put lipstick on
or look in the mirror, now I’m everything.
We’re all born supersensitive to the light.
It’s rolled across space like blankets.
No one mistakes
beautiful for regret,
descent for prudence,
teased for broke.
Ooo, there’s you, a fresh meteor,
streaking straight across the insecure sky.
the universe is young.
In 1992, Almost Immediately, It Got Better
By Jane Cassady
1. At the moment
that I decided to be bisexual
I was seventeen
and a few steps from the Photography Class door.
If I like women, I’m free.
I won’t have to have this clawing,
desperate suffocating grasping
It’s all over. (It was a nice thought.)
I resolved, right there in my
houndstooth polyester minidress
and Payless combat boots,
I would like women,
and I would be free.
2. I wish I were still this brave
about art and/or kissing:
I don’t know where I got the idea
for the photo shoot,
but there we all were
in the well-lit cinderblock basement
of my dad’s divorce-townhouse.
Four women, one bald bass-player dude
for some reason,
Like almost every girl today,
I had my first girl kiss
for the camera and tripod.
I wore a Courtney Love babydoll dress
like an abstract painting.
She was a hippie chick named Barbie.
She pulled off her shirt
to reveal a white undershirt
with lacy straps.
Same old story,
it was soft and warm,
her hair was blonde and wavy
and she tasted like clove cigarettes,
or maybe that was me.
Maybe I shouldn’t have developed the film
in Independent Study class;
Mrs. Johnson sent the negatives and proofs to the principal
and that’s what the parents saw
as they were called in one by one.
Jessica told her dad,
who was the high school guidance counselor,
that I’d pressured her into it. (Pretty sure I didn’t)
Barbie had her boyfriend call
and pretend to be her dad.
My mom said Oh, it’s like Madonna’s book.
(It wasn’t, Mom, but thanks.)
My dad said something about the lighting.
The negatives were confiscated
until the end of the year.
The cutest, tallest skater boy
made a protest flyer
with a broken-chains clip art
and circulated it for us against censorship.
I think I’d never been happier.
So when the stupid blows fell,
of course they did,
I felt like I was on the side of something righteous.
I felt like I was on the side of art.
Jane Cassady writes pop-culture horoscopes for the Philadelphia City Paper’s Arts and Culture blog, Critical Mass, and also for The Legendary. She writes a blog about happiness, love and pop-culture called The Serotonin Factory. She is the Slam Mistress of the Philadelphia Poetry Slam. Her poems have appeared in The November 3rd Club, The Comstock Review, Valley of the Contemporary Poets, and other journals.