Weaving Our Tapestry

What do you say when
words that wrapped themselves around, comforted, held you
crash to the floor?
When these words mingle with tears, the blood of others, the weeping of your soul,
become part of the unsavory mix of despair that we call today?

What do you do with this ability to recall events, recount massacres?
Replay cell phone messages of love to a mother?
Hear the chaos of cries and gunshot, hitting the deck, hitting the wall
of your belief about what it is to be human?

Stop:
quiet all that keeps you from this unbearable pain of being.
Listen:
to the sound of grief, your body vibrating sympathy.
Feel:
your heart break.

Then, pick up the threads of your everyday life and begin,
yet again,
to weave them into the tapestry that is you,
that is us,
that is America.

Dare to sing peace.
Dare to dream again.
Dare to imagine.


Nan Ottenritter

Nan Ottenritter is a poet and musician living in Richmond, VA. Her heart breaks for those touched by the tragedy at the Pulse in Orlando, FL. At certain times and places words can never be enough. Never-the-less, she offers these words of solace and solidarity with and for all.

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At Risk

All prospects here—
love & otherwise—were
meant to offset
the lingering
threats of danger.

Where every spot
counted: from the bar to the dance
floor, from the restroom to the
stage. Release always reveals
corporeal convergence.

When the everyday is not
a guarantee, nighttime
is the occasion for
boundless potential.


Richard T. Rodríguez

Richard T. Rodríguez teaches at the University of California, Riverside. He is the author of the book Next of Kin: The Family in Chicano/a Cultural Politics (Duke University Press, 2009).

Nombres

I know these names,
these Latinx names.

I know these names with the
elle sound of the double Ls
and that those names will be placed
on altars for Día de los Muertos.

I know these names with
the sliding ñ sound
that will be on prayer cards
handed out at funerals.

I know these names with
rolling r’s that will be said
during rosaries and novenas.

These names sound like mine,
like those of my cousins and uncles,
of my siblings and friends.

Yes, I know these names.
Yet, I know these names
are not their only names.

I know there is an Angelito,
a Juanito, a Miguelito,
a Frankie, an Eddie,
a Dee-Dee, a Drew, a Javi,

a Gryffindor, a novio,
a corazón, an amor,
a tío, a tía, a mijo, a mija,
a mamá, and a papá.

Yes, my heart knows these names
they are familia.


Miguel M. Morales

Miguel M. Morales grew up working as a farmworker. A Lambda Literary Fellow and an alum of VONA/Voices and the Macondo Writers Workshop, Miguel’s work appears in From Macho to Mariposa: New Gay Latino Fiction, Hibernation and Other Poems by Bear Bards, and in the forthcoming Imaniman: Anzaldua Poetic Anthology.

Our Lady of Love Lost

In memoriam, Elle Janet Plato, 1966-2016

i.

It’s all mixed up.
Loving, laughing;
flirting, fighting;
dancing, drinking,

dying. It was
summer. She said
she needed more
Scotch. Her hand on

mine as we moved
across the floor,
sleeves tangled, blue
& white, limbs twined

& interlocked.
It might have been
nothing. It might
have been something.

She growled at me.
That was fighting.
That was foreplay.
That was a rough

draft for loving
off the grid;
for a life left
unscripted, her

beautiful life
a narrative
poem truncated,
capped off with a

sudden haiku;
for her, now gone
forever, still
tangled up

in a maybe
that aches inside,
still so confused,
and a bit lost.

ii.

The shimmer of heat waves,
a mirage, a bending
of light and hope that makes

something seem near when it
isn’t, when it is far
away. Cascades of light

like a waterfall, drops
becoming curves and lines,
becoming sparks and pricks.

The fluted melody
lyrical as longing;
voices blend and balance

at the edge of hearing.
Imagined pebbles plop
in imagined waters

sweet as amusement, yet
there is no sound, no joke,
no water, no liquid

love paused and suspended
in midair like ripe fruit
waiting for a open

mouth to find it. There is
beauty here, but is it
what I see, what you see?

iii.

Bodies we know, bodies we don’t.
So many bodies. 50 years
past: hemophiliac John Doe,
bled out near a gay bar somewhere.
40: a frosh one dorm over
whose father took him home midterm,
to rape him over and over,
yelling, “So, this is what you like.
How about now? Still liking it?”
35: when the brain cancer
came back the last time, his parents
agreed to take care of him if
he never again talked with us,
his friends. 30: Wild and campy,
Tom taught naughty British show tunes
to our small town, barely two years
before he died of AIDS. Our first.
25: K., “lost at sea,” but
none of us at home believed it.
Really, the only lesbian
on a Navy ship? The rumor
was that she was tossed overboard
because she wouldn’t sleep with them.
Now, now. Another 50 more.
So many. So many. And now
she’s gone, too. And I’m not. With no
last note, no goodbye, no see you
later. Just … gone. Another love
lost. Another. And another.

iv.

Wind whistles past the fence,
past the yellow police
crime scene tape, and carries
dust away, carving stoic lines
in flexible faces.
Where did the laughter go?
Did it fall in its flight,
a stone grown too heavy
to be carried, marking
the place of a body?
Did it fall like bullets
in the nightclub, the ones
that didn’t hit someone?
Did it blast and then burst,
shattering against wall?
Explode and then dissolve
like a smoke bomb? Did it
float away like feathers
and sequins and mirrors? Where?
Where did the laughter go?

v.

Neon lights pulse, pound,
syncing dancers together.
They pause. Full stop. End


Patricia F. Anderson

Patricia F. Anderson is a proud second alto in the Out Loud Chorus, Ann Arbor’s fantastic LGBTQA singing group. Patricia’s poetry blog, Rosefire Rising, is home to her NaPoWriMo creations (& other creative efforts). Her manuscript, “Unmentionables,” is currently seeking a publisher, having achieved an honorable mention in two separate poetry contests.

In Their Lovely Vivacious Glory

a Letter to Gloria Anzaldúa, Chavela Vargas y Tatiana de la Tierra, asking for help after the Orlando Massacre of 49 Lesbian Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Latinos at Pulse Nightclub

Gloria,
Lesbiana
Antepasada
Memoria estrellada
Guía cósmica
I tried to roll outta bed esta manana
like the word nepantla rolled off your tongue
Like river rocks
Like desert sand runs

Gloria,
Lesbiana
Antepasada
Memoria estrellada
Guía cósmica
I tried to roll outta bed esta mañana
Y, vi a través the dry eyes
De nuestros hermanas
walking through the sun
Hoping to escape their demise
Racing towards a place to lay their head
To satisfy their undying sed
And a dancefloor to kiss
her girlfriend,
Mercedez

Gloria,
Lesbiana
Antepasada
Memoria estrellada
Guía cósmica
¿Qué pasa si no quiero despertar esta mañana?
¿Si no quiero decir adiós a mis hermanas?
El día doce de Junio

Espíritu Chavela,
Lesbiana
Antepasada
Memoria estrellada
Guía cósmica
When I tried to roll outta bed esta mañana
Las sonrisas de sus new spirit chamacas
Dancing tip toed to las campanas
in their lovely vivacious glory
Shimmy to your singing story
and strumming ranchera guitar
In front of a blood soaked bar
Made me question
Was this animal predatory?
Could I have done something?
Could I have done something?
Could I have done something,
To rewrite this story?
To protect our dance floor conservatory?

Chavela,
Lesbiana
Antepasada
Memoria estrellada
Guía cósmica
¿Qué pasa si no quiero despertar esta mañana?
¿Si no quiero decir adiós a mis hermanas?
El día doce de Junio

Espíritu Tatiana,
Lesbiana
Antepasada
Memoria estrellada
Guía cósmica
I tried to roll outta bed esta manana
Through club smoke clouding my eyes
I saw
nuestras hermanas
dancing shirtless
Full of hope
Glittery lights
lazers spinning
A peek
through my dream kaleidoscope
Of you and me
and she and him
and them and us
and we
Bulbous and round
Bouncing
Grinding close to the ground
superstars
Beyond avant-garde
Across the dance floor
We were caught off-guard
And, we celebrated that we made it this far

Tatiana,
Lesbiana
Antepasada
Memoria estrellada
Guía cósmica
¿Qué pasa si no quiero despertar esta mañana?
¿Si no quiero decir adiós a mis hermanas?
El día doce de Junio

Espíritu
Gloria, Chavela, Tatiana
Lesbianas
Antepasadas
Memorias estrelladas
Guías cósmicas
I turn to you
Face first
ass bouncing
tequila chilled
Lashes curled
Tight fade
Heels high
Boobies wrapped
Cat eyes

I ask  you
Guías cósmicas
Switch back on the lights
Exterminate the fright
Fill it with I will survive
I will survive
I will survive

Quiero despertar esta mañana
Adiós hermanas
Antepasadas
Memorias estrelladas
Guías cósmicas


Anel Flores

Anel I. Flores, editor of forthcoming anthology by Korima Press, Jota and author of Lambda Literary Award nominated novel Empanada: A Lesbiana Story en Probaditas, is alumni of Squaw Valley Community of Writers, the Macondo Writer’s Workshop, and the NALAC Institute. Awards include the NALAC Fund for the Arts, Accion Women Inspiring Women Award, NPN Mentorship/Leadership Award, the Cooper-Hewitt Community Design Award, ABLDP Valedictorian, and the Constance Allen Educator Award. Currently, she is working on her novel, Cortinas de Lluvia.

 

Where Do We Go From Here?

SEE THIS:
Lots of us
Gay people
Dancing mingling touching
People of color chatting
Laughing sweating
Everyone enjoying

Vibrant & queer
Feeling safe

NOW SEE THIS:
These same lively people
Cornered
Gunned down

Lying twisted in pools
Of their own sudden fears

No longer dancing
They had no choice

LISTEN TO THIS:
Cell phones ringing frantic
Vibrating aliveness
Against the pockets

Of all these     Dead
Innocent
People

UNDERSTAND THIS:
We are getting
Massacred
All of us
Places we gather
Schools offices clubs
Shopping malls
Cafés churches

Everywhere

IMAGINE THIS:
All of us
Armed-         AK’s   MCX’s
Bullet proof vests
Driven by personal vendettas
Taking aim shooting reloading

Everyone a predator
Without ethics

Animal

UNDERSTAND THIS:
One cannot obsessively
Collect an arsenal of assault weapons
Without aching

For the kill

HEAR THIS:
After the greatest U.S. mass shooting
Greatest as in most horrific

The murderer
Is somehow glorified

After the greatest U.S. mass shooting
Gun sales soared
Stock prices spiked the market healthy resembling

Savage hallelujahs
Macabre applause


Bonnilee Kaufman

A Lambda Literary Fellow and member of QueerWise, a senior writing collective, Bonnilee participates in spoken word performances. Her poetry appeared in or is forthcoming in publications including: Ghosts of the Holocaust, Milk and Honey—A Celebration of Jewish Lesbian Poetry, BayLaurel, Conceptions Southwest, River’s Voices, Sinister Wisdom, and Selfish

Because i & ii

Because i

Because the sky is blue
our love is blue

Because river Nile is deep
our love is the sea

Because you are my star
I will wait for you
to come and shine
this night

*  *  *

Because ii

I would not cry
because you left

like wind
or because
I have no heart
in me

I would not cry
not because i’m strong
like stone
or because crying
hurts like fire

I would not cry
because the heavens
have swallowed you


Peter Kwange

Peter Kwange was born on the 1st of January, 1999,in the town of Minna, in Niger state, Nigeria. Peter Kwange is a graduate of Semait School of Basic and Remedial Studies, Minna. He has a profound love for art. He is a member of the Hill -Top Art Centre, Minna. His collection of poems titled Deflowered was published in 2016.

Orlando

Orlando is also the name of the “love letter” Virginia Woolf wrote Vita Sackville-West.
Orlando is lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer, questioning…
Orlando explores the instability as much as the performativity of gender.
Orlando is play; Orlando is drag.
Orlando deconstructs binaries.
Orlando delights in ambiguities.
Orlando played on heterosexual ground and won.

Orlando is now drenched in blood.
Orlando is the violation of human rights.
Orlando is youth that did not deserve to die.
Orlando is annihilation merely for being who you are.
Alas, Orlando, did we not always know?
And, yet, Orlando drove the point home.
But Orlando is also Pride.
Orlando is Pulse.
Orlando is Life.
Orlando is Latinx.
Orlando has not yet lost.

Orlando will rise again.
But death and loss cannot be overcome in a day.
Murder so brutal and violent will take a long, long time.
Generations will be traumatized in ways we cannot yet fathom.
Orlando will not be forgotten.
Orlando will not forget.
But Orlando will rise again.


Divya Radhika

Divya Radhika Bhalla hails from India and has an MPhil in English Literature from the University of Delhi. She is currently working on her PhD in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Kansas with a focus on speculative fiction. She is the fiction editor for Beecher’s 6.

Seeing Things

I see things
no one else sees:

seven seagulls swooping in a circle
over a city street –
the silhouette of rock dove landing on a rooftop
outlined on a plaster wall by the morning sunlight –
a truly tiny hummingbird holding still
in a pomelo tree under a canopy of green leaves.

I hear things
no one else hears:

like the sound of an unknown bird,
startled and crying, when my dog
dashes beyond the fence, searching,
and I can’t explain this moment
any more than I can stop myself from crying
for every man killed in Orlando last week.

Illuminate the eyes of my heart, O God,
and open the ears of my spirit.


Jane Beal, PhD

Jane Beal, PhD is the creator many poetry collections, including Sanctuary and Rising, as well as three recording projects: Songs from the Secret Life, Love-Song, and The Jazz Bird. She also writes fiction, creative non-fiction, and studies of literature, and she loves to sing, dance, and play flute. See http://sanctuarypoet.net.

A Call

My phone is ringing,
my heart is silent,
my being eagerly waiting
for you to answer.

One voice, I hear, sweet and tender –
A distance – what is?
My soul is holding yours tightly, now,
and nothing is between us.

Sitting on a bench
perceiving the softness of your sounds,
I am hugging my memory of you
but only empty air
in my arms… R.I.P.


Anna Kostova

Anna Kostova is a full—time dreamer who was born in Smolyan — a small mountainous town in Bulgaria.  She earned her BA degree at the University of Plovdiv, Bulgaria in linguistics and MA degree at the University of Maria Curie-Sklodowska, Lublin, Poland in cognitive linguistics.  Now, she is a university teacher of English as a second language, a PhD candidate in American literature and an ardent poet who seeks and finds inspiration everywhere.