I don’t want to fall in love with you

I don’t want to fall in love with you – Ed Madden


Last night at the writers’ banquet, a poet
told a story about a white woman


who asked him if he thought being a basketball
player made him poetic. He smiled at the word


poetic and talked about the practices of blackness,
suggested white people might write about


the practices of whiteness, because whiteness
and blackness like Southern-ness are the result


of practices, of what we do and how
we treat one another. When Bert and I left,


Monifa and Jenn joked that we were headed
out to see my tribe. We stopped by


the ceili, late, hosted by the AOH
at the local Legion hall. It was packed.


I had two free tickets from a student
in my Irish lit class. When we got there,


a band was playing a high-octane drum
and guitar driven cover of “Wicked Game.”


There were some older people bouncing along,
several men in kilts, including one


in a medieval leather number that looked
more cosplay than Celt. A tiny girl ran by


with her green dancing dress wrapped up
in the dry-cleaners bag, the dancing girls


done, the evening turned over to the band.
There was lots of green, an Irish flag


tucked in the back pocket of a woman’s jeans,
she was juking her head to the music and


wearing a glittered green hat. No one
at the ticket desk—we were late—


so we stood, two gay men, leaning
at the open door. My folks were Irish


and Scots-Irish Protestants who surely would have
disapproved of the music and the booze almost


as much as they disapproved of the man
beside me. The room was very white. We stood there


long enough for my student to see that we
had dropped by. He urged us to get some soup,


have some fun. The band lashed into a cover
of “I’m Shipping Up to Boston,” a willowy boy


in a kilt played the penny whistle in the middle
of drum and machine- gunning guitars. We ducked


out the door, the music following us out
into the dark parking lot, and home.