Poets of SMITTEN Interview Series: Wil Staley

I am a writer, painter, and more. I received my BA in Psychology, MA in Education, and 50 graduate credits in Counseling before coming out; as being queer was grounds for dismissal. I am now seeking my MSW, so I can help those marginalized by society and be a voice for the LGBTQ community. When I met my wife, I knew I had found myself and I’m learning to love the human I have become. Wil Staley

Do you find any stereotypes in lesbian/bi work that you would personally remove?

Absolutely! Most books for same-sex attraction focus on sex and erotica. Very little exists for same-sex love and companionship. Not only that, but I haven’t seen many books that have lesbian or bi characters who are just people; it almost always focuses on their sexuality. I think it’s important to remember we’re all just human and we are not our sexuality though that is an amazing part of us. Being a lesbian or bi is a normal part of life and I hope this anthology is able to portray that truth.

What does it mean to you to be part of something like SMITTEN and have your work alongside other women who love women?

This is such an honor to me. I’m being published alongside those like me who want to speak their truth for others. Not only that, but I can’t believe I’m in a book with so many amazing artists! I appreciate knowing so many other writers hope to make a change in the way our community is viewed.

Did you ever want to be a voice for the lesbian/bi community? If so, why?

-Being a voice for anyone is incredibly important to me but being a voice for the lesbian/bi community is even more precious to me. I know what it’s like to be hated for something you can’t control and to lose many people close to you because you want to love another human who happens to be the same sex. I come from a religious community who turned their backs on me when I came out. I still had a few people who stuck around and taught me what unconditional love was really like and I am so thankful for them. I hope I can help give others a voice and let them know they’re not alone.

Do you feel your voice is heard? Do you believe anthologies like this can help you be heard?

-Writing is really the only thing that has ever helped me feel my voice is heard and has made a difference. Being in this anthology will help my voice expand. I think anthologies like these are amazing because it caters to all types of people and offers many different styles of writing for our readers so they undoubtedly will find something that speaks to them and helps them feel heard.

Your poem in SMITTEN was excellent, why did you choose this particular poem and what did you hope it would convey to readers?

-I had three accepted pieces and the poem “Nakedness” really speaks volumes. I wrote this to show others how beautiful love can be; how healing it is to be able to give your all to someone leaving nothing uncovered; even the painful or ugly pieces of life. My wife and her love took away the shame I felt in being out and open and the pain I felt growing up in trauma. I am forever grateful for her gentleness.

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Semblance

213274660_0a9586af47_oI can’t keep up with the rapidity of

Smart Phones and Bit-Fit Watches

so

I’m empty wristed and void of clutch

abandoning the world of technology and rush

hurtling without break down San Fransisco streets

 

remember the days when

we took summer vacation?

not fearful of boss or observing every text?

remember when

the phone did not ring late at night

unless it was about death

or

wake us at first light with impatient query

colleagues who

may get to work before you

stealing your slot before you knew what you lost

 

remember when

you ate a warm breakfast, read the paper

talked to your kids

stroked the dog

noticed the door needed a new paint job

revelled in the glory of Sunday mornings

not getting out

of a deep filled bed

arms and feet and legs

splayed

 

remember when

guilt

panic

and shame

anxiety with a twist of lime

in the gut

did not become

the drink du jour nor

were cocktails and dinner parties so rare

for now we walk among penitents who cannot abhor

excess

 

remember when

you had time for yourself?

it was not a surprise looking in the mirror

seeing how years had passed

how long it had been since you touched or were touched

lain in the bath with the lights off

 

now

you feel the rapid beat

of your heart beneath your sweat proof deodorized clothes

you feel the burn in your gut

of coffee on partially eaten stomach

you feel the rush

you feel the senselessness

and friends you have no time for

and family are strangers

and the dog that barks in the night

is you

crying out

 

muzzled and penned by day

you sit at your desk reading online about

why sitting too long will

kill

and how important it is

to make time

time? You say

what is time?

I know not how to capture it

but I can – if you ask

always tell you how to find

another minute to check

my digitized semblance

of life

Anti Club

6569729_origWho is that girl?

standing polishing her shoes

surely it is not me

who will mount the steps

open her mouth

speak the words

I am not afraid of commitment

I simply do not seek it

which could be selfish or disinterested

not all wish to affix

nor the involvement of cliques

groups and movements

especially trends

a month of this a month of that

they rush like birds caught in a net

to the sound of the next buzz

no original thought

whosoever a tide must push

nearer nearer to becoming as

everyone else strings a merging

I wish not

to join in

become part of

subscribe

affix membership

lead or equally

devalue

humanities need to run in pairs

groups and marathons

crowd fund the day

and I

who matter nothing in any way

irrespective of in distinction

long to hear the turning tide speak

go your own way

and if that way is opposite

to the herd

so be it

you will find the going

tough

sometimes empty

but for some

this is the taste they need

to keep purpose or

sanity

afloat in

the debris

of afterward

 

(This is an internal debate, highly subjective, that I often have with myself. The irony of posting on social media that I find social media unhealthy for the majority. Yet I stand by it. I am only on FB to increase book sales, FB stands for everything I don’t relate to. I am not judging anyone else, but sometimes I look around and wonder, how many people don’t want to socialize versus those who seem to need it like a drug. It makes me feel like I am not normal because I see my closest friends literally jump out of their skin unless they feel validated by others, affirmed by socializing, and as I get older I need it less and less and never ever “need” to go out and socialize. Then again, if we are social animals, is this natural? If it isn’t, why does it feel natural? As for ‘joining in’ that has been an anathema my entire life, I can’t stand the ‘club’ mentality though it is so pervading especially in the US. I find it an interesting subject especially as those who are less social are very condemned by the majority as having something wrong with them).

Era

03om12jumpPerhaps we are all born in the right era

growing up regretful we did not come of age

when life was better

the tinge of past tense

greener fields and sentiment

but should we care to revisit them

time shows we are all here when we should inherit our turn

for children of today

do not wish to sit sloppy and long gaited sharing close space

our communication and intimacy has barriers

we have not learned to be comfortable with intrusion

going about our lives unmolested

I could not have endured the proximity

continual chatter and energy required of those

born without headphones and opt outs

they knew how to socialize

crammed on sweating buses before air conditioning

whilst I believe

had I been born in an early century

I’d have taken myself away and reverted

back to the iron age

becoming a mineral underneath earth

where excited hands could pound

their fists of enthusiasm

for I have no wish to be

celebratory or illuminated

more than the passing of one year to next

it is in the quiet avoidance I find most pleasure

those born in times of chatter and noise

rationed by over-head bombs

heralding progress, talking to strangers

you think the world unfriendly now and it is

when it came our time

everyone went quiet

the buses were empty

just a book here and there lay

bent at the spine and unread

for we who keep our windows shuttered

do not wish to join the throng

but sing in lilac trees over looking

the quiet fish pond

Who built the ark?

0000_nativityplay16_8It’s your turn to make the second pot of coffee

let’s take the day off, close the computer, shut our doors

silence the voices who sound awfully like 12 and 13-year-old teens

complaining about losing their homework and pointing fingers

when did we learn not to grow up?

I always thought Huck had a point when he tied his handkerchief on a stick and took to the wild

this is not the Peter Pan kind of childish fantasy

when we talk of growing up and growing down we forget

like Picasso once said in order to render abstract we first need to know the techniques of how to paint

then we choose like the 90-year-old who says screw it I will eat what I want, that’s informed consent

childish however, is the absence of reason and consequence splayed like tired kids exhausted from pass-the-parcel

fluttering like a torn flag over a battle field of this and that

the news isn’t objective the screech of complaints sounding like a hen-house on fire

nobody listens nobody really knows it’s not about fact it’s about opinion and who gargles loudest

I think back to the playground of my youth where twice a flasher showed his bits to the girls and they all screamed

ew it looks like a sausage! I never want to eat meat again! and ran off laughing

it is true, me and Donna plugged the girls outside loos with toilet paper

so Mrs Slug would come and tell us off, mushy peas staining her apron

detention is better when it’s freezing out

we had reason behind our madness

and whilst we didn’t see the folly of flooding the loos back then

or how long it would take with stinking mop and bucket to dry off

we learned our consequence and next time feigned illness to stay by the radiator

oh nurse it’s my head it’s pounding! You do look a little green, here read a book

there is a learning curve

lost to generations who think answers are found in the oracle of computers

and those older folk who try vainly to stay relevant and forget their lessons

we would benefit from observing consequence and seeing it through

rather than a sound bite on TV as we spoon feed ourselves snippets of news

nothing stays long enough to take it in, we’re attention-deficit spinning tops

straining to think

would the chilly air of our playground and the closed doors until after lunch is over

wake us to reality? and if we stepped inside, would we attempt to take with us the lessons

we internalized?

or like the hippies of the sixties do we grow out of phases and give away our flares for business suit to rule the world

is death so onerous that we fear anything but power?

is inconsequence so fearsome we’ll make a splash at any cost?

what of all those we know nothing of? they say history is written by the victor, I think often

of all those who didn’t traditionally ‘win’ anything and what they would write

it is said you are bound to repeat history if you do not know it

but what if the very truth we revere, didn’t get it right?

When I was a kid in the playground I used to wish to grow up so I could

avoid being told when to play and when to learn

not knowing then nothing changes as much as you think

I envied the teachers their staff room where they thought we did not know

they smoked and ate hot cross buns and talked of rumors of the headmaster and

his male deputy

who both wore open toe shoes in Winter and I once asked him when ushered into his office for winning a poetry prize

don’t your toes get cold?

and he said

I do this in remembrance of christ I want to feel what he felt

and that Xmas we put on Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat

the drama teacher said candy you can do backflips can’t you? You can be the queen of the Egyptians

and I never felt so good as that day I wore an old wig I once dressed up and played Kate Bush in

with sequins and blankets stitched into approximation I shook my belly and pretended it contained jewels

the headmaster’s eyes teared up and he stole a look at the young junior who

sang along with our ‘who built the ark?’ louder than us all, dabbing his small eyes with the back of his hand

afterward Clement and I climbed up to the roof playground and on the wire we swung upside down

daring each other to fall knowing we couldn’t

maybe that’s a metaphor for the fear we need to feel

the safety net

of all endeavor

how holding hands with a boy in the dark

briefly I was the queen of egypt and everything seemed so real

in a way it never does now

because not once did I need a search engine to tell me

what I believed was true