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Two Poems by Rob Macaisa Colgate

“Anetra Aubade” and “Hardly Creatures”

Poetry | Poetry Tuesday, poetry
March 5, 2024

Anetra Aubade

“It’s A-N-E-T-R-A, six letters and three vowels.
. . . We don’t really have a ballroom community in Vegas.
A lot of my love for the ballroom scene is just from watching videos on YouTube.”

       —Anetra, RuPaul’s Drag Race, season 15

Four AM. Minute studio, a duvet.
Device azures, cornea pierce. Google:
Who am I? Social animal? Exotic facade?

Mature novice. Desire nearby simile people.
Desire houses, mutual belief. Desire reason, please.
But our region remote. Option famine. Meager refuge.

Always inside. Always sedate, behave, career.
Origin enigma. Source myriad degree abroad.
Unable become. Racial errata. Home as isofac.

Forage escape. Forage clique, allies, domain.
Videos Manila. Videos vogues, native tongue.
Pinoys so homosexual. Weirdo libido viable.

O these bodies, feeble, ailing, uneven, impair—and joy,
so also. Purely. Anetra so diva, entire iconic. See her:
see Rob. Steady figure him out: I, bakla, insane, and joy.

Sun. Day awakes. Enough awaits. Choose family online,
dilate trauma radius. Pursue joyous. Pursue values.
Pursue gay and masaya, attain the due ligaya.

Hardly Creatures

“A healed femur”

      —Margaret Mead, anthropologist, on the first evidence of human civilization

The digital tour guide tells us how we are animals
as if we don’t already know, as if sleep is a game
we play, as if hunger is incidental every day at lunch.
We enter a virtual room with an improbable flock

of birds suspended at eye level, a hundred
species flying together. The guide tells us about
a bonded pair of male crows, how when one
lost his lower mandible to a crashed window

the other began to forage for them both, chewing up
seeds and worms and pushing the bolus
down his partner’s throat. In another room
we pivot the camera angle and see a hill country creek

running beneath our feet under thick clear plastic.
We learn how the blind salamander compensates
for its lack of eyesight with advanced sensitivity
to changes in water pressure, sweeping its lonely head

back and forth to detect small aquatic invertebrates—
We creatures have always found a way,
the recording chuckles. We have, I think,
though this should not mean that we must.

We pause the tour for Rosie to rest with her camera off.
I wish the guide would stop calling humans creatures, she says.
We’re hardly creatures, the way we love each other.
I nod, but can’t stop thinking about the crows

that love each other, the salamander that loves itself,
the crows that only know caregiving, the salamander
that only knows survival, every creature forever feeding
whatever mouth is in front of them

either born knowing how to love
or picking it up down the line.

“Anetra Aubade” is an anetra, a form invented by the author, which consists of six tercets composed entirely of words with six letters and three vowels.