I Do Not Want to Die

July 13, 2018

I do not want to die where I was born

today it is taking all of my strength

to keep my weeping, swollen

eyelids open now and again pressing them

with cold spoons and my own cold

fingers I only wish telephones still were slow

and had beautiful rings

and curling cords. Where I was born

is the sour seat of the shameful empire

and too hot in the summer


My eyes are not so sweet as the little

cherries in the jar nor as pink

nor as velvety

and I do not want to die in the seat

of the empire although my mother lives

there I want to die among queers angry and blissful

among my true family rioting rioting

in a rose garden

in the arms of the beloved




they, them, theirs

College of Arts & Sciences

Class of 2017, English, Area Program in Poetry Writing


Basil (Gillian) Lee writes about language and life as a queer person in the scary, lovely world. They are also a printmaker, musician, and book artist. They read a lot of Ted Berrigan, Mina Loy, Aram Saroyan, Sappho, and Nikki Giovanni, and are currently focused on the relationship between underground contemporary poetry and the library.


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