T.S. Eliot’s epic five-part poem, “The Waste Land,” has long been regarded as one of the most important and influential poems of the 20th century. And now one modern day poet is using the framework of Eliot’s abstract commentary on the decline of western society for his own social commentary on modern day gay culture.
As his first post on TNG2, the follow-up site to his work on The New Gay, Zack Rosen’s “White Gayland, Pt. 1: Envy Of The Dead” (Eliot’s part one is called “Burial Of The Dead”) perfectly blends ironic detachment, humor, and sincerity in passages like:
“They gave me a crown 33 years ago;
they crowned me Mr. Leather.”
—Yet when we returned to the front of the leather bar,
your stomach full and your mustache spiked, I could not
kiss you, and I bailed, you were neither
salvation nor friendship, and I’d felt nothing,
looking between your cheeks, the darkness,
Große und leer das rektum.
…I will show you something different from either
your cock in the morning rising up to greet you
or your cock at 4 am leaking down towards your feet;
I will show you fear in a doctor’s brow.
And while Eliot laments, “April is the cruellest month, breeding / Lilacs out of the dead land…” Rosen notes, “June is the loudest month, breeders / Blushed like red glans…” The whole poem is available at TNG2 and part two is reportedly coming soon. Hopefully Rosen will follow that up with “The Hook-Up Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”