Mardi Gras – Jenni Nixon

i remember back in the time
when homosexuality was a crime  
mardi gras protest march:  
stop police attacks on gays
                  women and blacks!
bearded shepherdess on roller skates
snorting amyl   led the parade
i peeped from behind a cardboard
                       butterfly mask
sauntered up oxford street
back when trannies were radios
patterned circles of spinning light
caressed shirtless men who danced
        with other men
drag ladies in feather boas
   shimmied to a disco beat
dark rooms and broken sofas  
bitter taste of cheap red wine
when pink dollars paid
   to drive the demons out
cute cops dangled silver bracelets
   bashings     paralysing fears   
entrapment   lose your job     suicide  
fathers introduced straight men
   to rebellious daughters
   aim to settle ’em down    
silenced behind suburban masks   
and we were chanting:  out of the closets
into the streets out of the beats into the streets
dykes on bikes   engines pumped   
roar up oxford street
excited rainbow children  
all shapes and sizes   cheer
flotilla of floats
boys in trunks on trucks gyrate
wedding cake gaysdemand:   
                   same-sex marriage!
the crowd goes ballistic         
uniformed police  fire fighters 
dancers in sync shake their booty
bondi lifesavers in budgie-smugglers
swagger past thai lady-boys who pose  
   wild headdresses of feathery fireworks     
hairy bearsadjust their leathers 
glamour-gowned dames sashay-strut their stuff
pretty-boys entwine in mobile flashes
the tv squad talk amongst themselves  
   and to tourists in the crowd
then announce: you just missed the mayor!
at the hiv charity bobby goldsmith stand
think spot someone you once knew   
he carried the gay solidarity banner
unite to fight in noisy political rallies
as other shadowy figures appear
   to wave and spookily disappear
in sparkles of glitter on sweat
thumperty-bump music booms
and marchers shout: when do we want it?  now!
when do we want it?  we want it now!