This article explores John Cage's “62 Mesostics re Merce Cunningham,” a love poem dedicated to the poet's longtime partner. Though scholars of Cage's writing and music tend to ignore the queer context in which his work was created, this study attempts to reconcile the poet's art with his life. As a homosexual couple in the postwar period, Cage and Cunningham observed a closeted silence throughout their lives together, preferring to refer to one another as collaborators rather than romantic partners or lovers. While such strategies were not uncommon, the couple's use of Zen philosophy to imbue their silent relationship with an almost religious purpose distinguishes them from many others. Indeed, the poem embodies this situation well. Offering, at one moment, a glimpse into the couple's private life, at the next, the piece consistently subverts this gesture through various avant‐garde techniques. In fact, in its unusual use of typography and its experimental performance history, Cage's mesostic reimagines the space and terms of traditional love poetry — much like his relationship with Cunningham reworked traditional gender roles. By bringing these aspects of Cage's life and work to light, this article aims to provide scholars with a fuller understanding of postwar queer poetics.

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