American Wedding

By Essex Hemphill 1957–1995 Essex Hemphill
In america,
I place my ring
on your cock
where it belongs.
No horsemen
bearing terror,
no soldiers of doom
will swoop in
and sweep us apart.
They’re too busy
looting the land
to watch us.
They don’t know
we need each other
critically.
They expect us to call in sick,
watch television all night,
die by our own hands.
They don’t know
we are becoming powerful.
Every time we kiss
we confirm the new world coming.

What the rose whispers
before blooming
I vow to you.
I give you my heart,
a safe house.
I give you promises other than
milk, honey, liberty.
I assume you will always
be a free man with a dream.
In america,
place your ring
on my cock
where it belongs.
Long may we live
to free this dream.

Essex Hemphill, “American Wedding” from Ceremonies. Copyright © 1992 by Essex Hemphill. Reprinted by permission of The Frances Goldin Literary Agency.

Source: Ceremonies (Cleis Press, 1992)

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Poet Essex Hemphill 1957–1995

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Living, Marriage & Companionship, Relationships, Love, Social Commentaries, Life Choices, Desire, Realistic & Complicated

 Essex  Hemphill

Biography

A poet and performer known for his political edge, Essex Hemphill openly addressed race, identity, sexuality, HIV/AIDS, and the family in his work, voicing issues central to the African American gay community. His first collections of poems were the self-published chapbooks Earth Life (1985) and Conditions (1986). His first full-length collection, Ceremonies: Prose and Poetry (1992), won the National Library Association’s Gay, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Marriage & Companionship, Relationships, Love, Social Commentaries, Life Choices, Desire, Realistic & Complicated

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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