Oyster Boy Review 04  
  Spring 1996
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» Levee 67


All the Outcasts from Fourth Grade

Denise Duhamel

It was Boston, 1982, when AIDS was still gay cancer,
a whisper, a scare that no one except a very few took seriously.
We went to the Metro and Spit and danced with the fags,
the only people who really knew how to dress.
We had bows in our hair and big spikes
on our bracelets. We loved lipstick and gin fizzes
and it was hard to tell who was a boy and who was a girl
because women dressed like Boy George
and men wore mascara and cut their hair
and dyed it yellow like Annie Lenox.
Sure, there was Regan, but he'd be out
in another two years. How couldn't he be
when there were bars like this everywhere?
You were visiting from rural Iowa
and you couldn't believe it. You said,

Here are all the outcasts from fourth grade,
the kids who were teased and beaten up,
the freaks and the misfits, we have our
own clubs now and well, good for us!

It lasted for about five minutes,
that glee, that abandon, until the popular kids
found out-the prissy girls, the bullies with all the clout,
and they started to hunt us down
and throw us into the dirtiest rivers
and write ugly graffiti about our desires.
Soon we were in the school yard again—
fat, in our spectacles, hoping we could just get to the bus
without being spit at, without being whacked.