My high school senior English teacher at King High School in Kingsville, Texas, was Mrs. Edith Head (but not THAT Edith Head — Google her). Mrs. Head taught me an appreciation for poetry — William Wordsworth, e.e. cummings, William Butler Yeats, Emily Dickinson, John Donne, Walt Whitman…. those are the ones I remember off the top of my head.
I started writing poetry and even had one of my poems published in the high school poetry book. I have not been able to find the poem, but I remember its name: J.K.L. RAM.
From 1973 to 1993 I dabbled in poetry, but it’s all lost to history. However, today, as I was cleaning out some old boxes, I found the last poem I wrote. It’s titled “A Weekend Away” and was composed on October 3, 1993, by Russel R. Kirk, my name at the time.
I had arrived in San Diego on April 27, 1993. By October, I was convinced that suicide was not the answer and that I could live happily as an openly gay man right here in San Diego. It’s now 18 years later.
The poem describes the events of the weekend of October 1-3, 1993 — driving from San Diego to Los Angeles to go to Gay Night at Knott’s Berry Farm, visit West Hollywood (a gay mecca), and Gay Day at Magic Mountain. I drove my 1989 heavily customized (Texas style) Mustang GT and took two new San Diego friends with me. We would meet others in Los Angeles. I guess you could say that, at the age of 38, I “came out with a vengeance.”
With traffic tickets, stolen license plates, towing fines, parking fines, and gas — threw gas in there just for fun — the weekend cost me about $1,600.
The poem is quite long — Hey! It does cover the whole weekend! — but here it is.
The following poem has some bad words
that would not be approved of by
my wise old grandmother,
as well as some soft graphic visualizations.
Hey, I had been out only six months and I was still rebelling!
A Weekend Away
Russel R. Kirk
October 3, 1993
Friday the first of October, I say
A day off from work, to just get away.
The Mustang is ready—used quite a few tools.
It’s north to L.A.—a town full of fools.
Hopped in the car with my baggage and books,
Three stops in Hillcrest—a couple of looks.
With Chuck and with David, with me there’ll be three,
All in my car on the road by the sea.
David’s in back, I’m reading gay rags,
And doing some planning, arranging my bags.
I in the front seat, not driving, you see,
Chuck drives the car, though temporary.
A stop at Capri near the Oceanside Pier
A gay bar—gay rags, maybe gay beer.
We needed The Edge for locations of bars—
West Hollywood, Saturday, out near the stars.
Onwards toward Santa— northward, you fool—
San Onofre State Beach, where the water’s so cool.
A five and a one to get into the park,
The road is so crooked, you could miss your mark.
Trail Number Six is why we are here.
The trails are all numbered; six is not clear.
We found that ol’ trail leading down to the cliff.
We walked and we walked—one foot getting stiff.
We’re looking for gays, in the nude would be fine.
I think it would help if they’d put up a sign.
A ways down the beach, we saw our first nude
And then a few more, one being lewd.
I wanted to shout, “Yes, we are here.”
Those men with tan bodies, I long to be near.
Strolling along in the heat and the sand,
One with a chair—I’d give him a hand!
We went past the fence where the women were sparse;
A gay and nude beach, Onofre’s no farce.
Marines overhead in their low-flying choppers
Spying the guys to see all the whoppers.
Over an hour of walking along,
Turned to go back. But wait, something’s wrong!
I did it for all, my first at Ono—
Off with my clothes, next time the show.
Unbeliever you are. Well, yes, I have proof:
David’s pictures of me; I’m just so aloof.
Believe it or not, I was naked that day
On the sands of Camp Pendleton, out by the bay.
Back along shore to Beach Trail Number Six,
Nudity, sun, and sand—quite a mix.
Put on my clothes to prevent any stares,
Have hidden it all, put away all my wares.
Onofre State Beach, could have stayed all the day.
Knott’s Berry Farm calls, though, we’ll be on our way.
It’s time we must eat for too long on the sand.
Come, young Marines, and lend me a hand.
Our waiter was gay for he just “looked” that way.
The cute, young Marines—Oh! Please let me stay.
Just hours away is Gay Night at the Farm.
We’ll do what we want for all night, no alarm.
I’m driving along in the new carpool lane.
The taffic is faster. We’ll get there quite sane.
“Carpool Lane Ends,” says the sign up above.
Moved back into traffic, disdain and no love.
Traffic slows down—I go back to the left,
Over the yellow, so smoothly, so deft.
I think you can guess the end of this tale:
The cop up ahead gives me some hell.
She waved me along; that’s what I saw.
She gave me a ticket; I’d broken the law.
Arrived at the hotel, room two, one, and one.
Gay Night at the Farm, gonna have us some fun.
Stanton and Beach, the Travelodge way,
Just blocks from the Farm; all must be gay.
We went on the rides, ate and drank our fair share.
I looked and I looked. Who cares if I stare?
From seven p.m. until one the next day.
We stared and we stared. “He’s cute!” one would say.
And “He’s cute!” “You’re cute!” “They’re cute, too!”
And “He’s cute!” Yes, but just “cute” won’t do.
They’re all so cute. We must find a way
To tell who is cute without being so gay.
We all had or favorites, blonde hair and dark,
Just how to tell one that the other’s a shark.
Adjectives flowing off of our tongues,
The breath they requied expended our lungs.
Adorably cute and then hearththrob cute,
So may men, I considered them loot.
Fucking cute and the too young cute,
More and more men—that one’s a beaut!
So many words took too much away
From our night at the Farm with so many, so gay.
We found us a way to describe those we saw:
He’s AC, HC, FC,…—it’s law.
The night’s at an end although morning next day.
It’s over too soon. More time’s what I say.
Back at the hotel, sleep is at hand.
Oh, for some more guys out on the sand.
Up at midmorning for shower and shave,
The key is turned in by one of us—Dave.
Off to the towers called UCLA
Gays playing volleyball—not by the bay.
They’re inside the Men’s Gym; that’s what I read.
No—perhaps finished; gone to plant seed.
It just can’t be over, too early this day.
Where else could they be—across the way?
Men playing volleyball over at Pauley,
They’re AC and HC and some too FC.
Four hours of gay volleyball not enough;
Number nine, number six, number two—such stuff!
And look, fifty-seven, he’s coming our way.
Oh, thank you, Lord, for a wonderful day!
Don’t take me away; I’ll not go with you.
Off to the museum—the tombs of Peru.
Antique vases and silver and gold,
The tombs could not speak, but everything told.
Footless bodies with children and dogs
Buried in tombs with decorative logs.
The silver collection was really quite neat,
And so were the headrests, but my aching feet!
A walk around campus to see what we could:
Inverted Fountain and buildings and wood.
Into the book place, a map we do need
Of UCLA to find us some feed.
It’s back to the games. Lord answer my prayer:
“Let nine and six and two still be there.”
Oh yes! Oh yes! Too good to be true,
Nine looked at me, thought—”I’m waiting for you.”
His Iowa shirt gave him midwestern charm.
Speak to him, Dave, can do us no harm.
Alas, but oh no, he’s leaving this place,
My head in my hands, sad look on my face.
Back to the car underneath Wooden Center.
I hope nine and six’s team was a winner.
Of to Van Nuys, another hotel,
Closer to MM and heat hot as hell.
Took a short nap, turning on the AC,
Off to West Hollywood, guys—one, two three…
Found us a spot pretty close for the car,
Around just one corner and not very far.
Santa M. Boulevard, found us a store,
Half-price shirts and books by the score.
Money for shirts, all stuffed in a sack,
Off to the car and I’ll be right back.
The car is not there. “That’s where it should be.”
Tow trucks by twos is all that I see.
The car has been towed, why I don’t know,
Been here one hour, such a low blow.
Chuck did some talking, was obv’ously pissed.
No sign anywhere, so what could we have missed?
But a sign up ahead, retroactive they say?
That’s foolish and stupid, can’t be, no way.
Good officers point to a spot at our feet,
“The hole in the ground was a sign on the street.”
“But it’s gone now,” we say, “So how are we to know
That there’s no parking here or else they will tow?”
“Agree with you, yes, that there’s no sign here now.
But we have been told we must tow anyhow.”
The phone steals my money, a dollar is gone,
A quarter, a bus ride—and on and on.
Now at the tow place, and my car is there,
Papers and license is all that they care.
No registration, from Texas, you see.
No owner papers? No car for the key.
We argued and argued before he would check
Proof of insurance—Oh, what the heck.
I got my car back. You don’t want to know
Just how much it cost. A lot of dough.
High on the windshield, “WHPE
Just ‘neath the wiper—oh no, we’re not through—
A ticket for parking, and more money due.
After parking the car, looking for missing signs,
We walked down the Boulevard, followed the lines.
Stores and bars; men and thugs;
Old and young; some on drugs.
We bought us some food and some alcohol, too.
Chuck was still pissed, but nothing could do.
Not a great night; I’ve had better care.
West Hollywood’s fine, but drivers beware.
Back at the hotel. It’s been such a day.
I had a good time, but again? No way.
I wanted to go home with cute number nine.
My body’s in bed with Chuck next to mine.
Went out to Chatsworth to see relatives,
Had wrote them a letter to see what gives.
No hate in their hearts for me sexually.
They said that they loved me; I am what they see.
Our next stop was magic—the Magic Mountain.
All day on the rides in the heat and the sun.
Dressed in the rainbow—my shirt, arm and neck.
Some people looked, but they thought, “What the heck.”
The Mountain was great though compared in no way
To Gay Night at the Farm, for all men there were gay.
We went on the rides—Revolution and Viper,
Colossus and Ninja—all made me hyper.
The day’s at an end. We saw quite a lot
Of men with hard bodies. Oh! Give me a shot.
On down IH5 to Knott’s Berry Farm
To meet my first man who brought me such charm.
He’s due in from Phoenix, just for a stay,
Hugging and kissing will end a great day.
My heart is a-pounding, pulse rate ninety-five,
My eyes all aglow for to see him alive.
I’ve talked to him, written, and he’s called me, too.
But without him in person, nothing will do.
But alas, “He’s not here,” says the dark-haired clerk.
His trip has been cancelled ’cause things did not work.
My heart rate drops from a hundred to one.
It’s time that I face it: My day is now done.
San Diego we go, it’s back to the south,
Bad words for L.A. not yet from my mouth.
My head keeps a-pounding, last ride we went on
Has scrambled my brain; won’t make it ’til dawn.
So, “Chuck, will you drive? Can’t take any more.
Take us out of this place, to Diego’s shore.”
The weekend just past was so like the rides:
Up and down and bumpy besides.
Words in my thoughts, bad words indeed,
L.A.’s good times overshadowed by greed.
Had a good weekend, had a good time,
Want out of L.A., though, away from the slime.
The good in L.A. can be found in S.D.
Big cities are bad, but in L.A. there’s greed.
Can’t shorten this poem, they’ll be no such luck.
Four syllables left now: “L.A. YOU SUCK!”
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