Photographers Unknown, I Tried to Hold the Angel Underneath Me
I tried to hold the angel underneath me
to still the beating of his wings
with the beating of my heart
to part his lips with the sharp pink dagger of my tongue
to taste his ambrosia breath as it comes out
hard and fast from the purple pump of his lungs
to touch whatever I can of his density
somewhere between color and form
an almost intangible shimmering
to whisper in the wind of his ear
I want you inside and out
more than ever have I wanted
and see in this soft moving cloud/memory/
like fight through water
his trembling yes
that falls down into the yoke of my being and then I know
this silken cocoon
finely woven with my family fears
will one day relax
and i no longer caterpillar
will fly high, sweet and fast
into his invisible embrace
Franklin Abbott, The Golden Shadow, Mortal Love: Collected Poems, 1971-1992, 1996
Born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1950, Franklin Abbot is an American psychotherapist, writer, poet, artist and gay activist. His formative years were spent in the cities of Birmingham, Buffalo and Nashville. In his youth, Abbott was always very independent in exercising his own individuality and found an outlet for his creative energy in the Order of DelMolay, a character and leadership development organization for young men.
Abbott earned his undergraduate degree at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and his Master of Social Work at the University of Georgia. After college, he worked at a facility for mentally challenged adults and children and became active in other social activities. In 1979, Abbott became one of Atlanta’s first openly gay professionals when he began private practice as a psychotherapist specializing in individual, couples and family therapy.
During the 1970s, Franklin Abbott became associated with America’s radical faerie community. This community was a loose, global organization of mostly male queer people who shunned assimilation into mainstream society and focused on environmental issues, the numerous aspects of spirituality, and anarchism. Today, one of its main centers in the United States is a two-hundred acre faerie sanctuary/safe queer space at Short Mountain in central Tennessee, just southeast of Nashville. For twenty years, Abbott spent time at the community where he served as poetry editor of its unofficial journal “RFD” and worked with the journal “Changing Men”.
A leading organizer in Atlanta’s gay community, Abbott has facilitated many self-help and healing workshops on gay identity and other issues. He co-founded the Atlanta Circle of Healing and, in 2008, established the Atlanta Queer Literary Festival, now a year-round series of events, as well as a partnership with the Decatur Book Festival . Throughout the years, Abbott has maintained a close correspondence with many poets and activists, among these were Harry Hay, a co-founder of the Mattachine Society; San Francisco Renaissance poet James Broughton; and Haitian-born American poet Assotto Saint, who was a key figure in LGBT and African-American art and culture.
Franklin Abbott edited and published three anthologies on the issues of men and gender: the 1987 “New Men, New Minds: Breaking Male Tradition” discussing how men of today are changing the traditional roles of masculinity, the 1990 “Men and Intimacy: Personal Accounts of the Dilemmas of Modern Male Sexuality”, and the 1993 “Boyhood: Growing Up Male”, boyhood narratives and poems by accomplished writers from around the world. Abbott is the author of two books of poetry: the 2009 “Pink Zinnia” and “Mortal Love: Selected Poems, 1971-1998” published in 1996. As a songwriter and poet, he released in 2017 a compact disc entitled “Don’t Go Back to Sleep”.
Note: A digital copy of Franklin Abbott’s “Mortal Love: Collected Poems, 1971-1992” can be found in the digital collections of the Georgia State University Library located at: https://digitalcollections.library.gsu.edu/digital/collection/lgbtq/id/1547
A two-hour video of a 2018 interview between Franklin Abbott and film producer Kate Kunath on Abbott’s life and work can be found at the online site OUTWORDS which captures and preserves the stories of LBGTQ+ elders in order to build community and catalyze social change. The interview is located at: https://theoutwordsarchive.org/interview/abbott-franklin-2/