After

He was terrified of our power. Of how the sparks flew out

From our souls and pierced through to the fortress where

He hid a chronic hunger. A rabid wolf preying on forty-nine,

Discovering too late the resilience of shattered glass hearts

Tested in the fires of pain. This country. This nocturnal skin.

If we surrender to grief, we could flood the Earth twice over.

But instead comes dancing. Blessings beneath the discoball,

Where movements become touch, and touch becomes kiss.

Burning. Breathing. Surrendering. Our bodies are invitations

To a future time and place where love is unafraid to be sexy.

Because we’ve always been queer, brown, and unstoppable.


Priyank Pillai

Priyank Pillai is a trans poet and conceptual artist currently based in Houston, TX.

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Weeks before the First Anniversary of Marriage Equality

Weeks before the First Anniversary of Marriage Equality

For the 49 people murdered on Latin Night at Pulse in Orlando, their loved ones,
and everyone who’s LGBTQ, especially those who identify as LatinX and LGBTQ.

Reaching that equality milestone last year
makes these bodies even heavier to carry.
It’s as if our family has raised a child—
guided them through a thicket of bad schools,
bullies, or near-brushes with addiction,
and come out the other side of high school
with the child employed, in college,
or otherwise beginning to make their own way.

Then just as their cap-and-gown photo
begins to look familiar on the wall,
after we’ve begun to trust we may have done it,
gotten them through to adulthood,
on a Sunday, before darkness gives way to morning,
the phone rings.          We answer, already trembling.


Wendy DeGroat

Wendy DeGroat’s poetry has appeared in U.S. and U.K. publications, including Common-place, Raleigh Review, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, About Place, Mslexia, and TRIVIA: Voices of Feminism. She’s a librarian in Richmond, Virginia, and curates poetryriver.org. She and her wife Annette were in Provincetown when they learned about the tragedy at Pulse.

Murdered at The Pulse

For Eddie Justice

Eddie liked the look that night,
checked shirt, sharp
new line angled through the hair, and a grin
like the one my brother gave the mirror
the day he grew past six feet. Bodies
rushing headstrong
into reverb and percussion. Into
strobing light. Who can know why
it will erupt—the rant,
the pop, pop, pop, not
backbeat. Not rim shots.
When the willow switch slashed the back
of my brother’s leg, his mouth
shaped an astonished O,
his pleading lost itself halfway
out of his throat,
and he couldn’t call out to me
where I cowered. Texting,
I love you, Mommy,
out of the shrieking dark,
crouched with a cell phone
spelling it out, the terror’s in here
with us, then turning a face
to the damp, black floor.
From this useless
distance, I look to that place
where someone suffers and someone
can’t be reached. One boy
sprawls sobbing
red streaks laddering his arms. And one—
may god forgive us all—lies turtled,
a message suspended between towers
when the bullets hits.


Gail C. DiMaggio

Gail C. DiMaggio watched her husband play jazz in a world where no artist ever gives up a day gig. She has refused to become discouraged. Her work has appeared most recently in Slipstream, Salamander, Blue Lyra Review, Adanna’s Woman and Art Anthology, Antiphon, and Allegro.

The Price of a Kiss

49 lives seems too high a price.

What would it have cost
to turn aside? To let live
and live his own life?
A kiss can—yes!—be life changing,
but only for the ones whose lips
are reaching for connection
in that holy or unholy moment,
in that moment of lust or love,
of forgiveness or goodbye.

Goodbye to 49 young lives
robbed of farewells.
The night’s promise, their lives’
promise, the promise of another day—
broken. Dreams ashed and trashed
and turned to dust. Aspirations
and inspirations collapsed
into expirations, their last breaths
taken. Dispiriting: their spirits flown
like a breath, like a flush of air, the air
thick with grief. We cannot breathe.
We cannot breathe. We must
take them in. Breathe.


Yvonne Zipter

Yvonne Zipter is the author of the poetry collections Like Some Bookie God and The Patience of Metal and two nonfiction books. Her poems have appeared in anthologies and periodicals, and her novel in progress was a semifinalist for the 2016 Del Sol Press First Novel Prize.

Pulse Puertorriqueño: An Elegy in Collage

Juan
Miguel
Milagros
Olga
Manuel
All died yesterday today
and will die again tomorrow

– “Puerto Rican Obituary” by Pedro Pietri[1]

We carry the names of those we have lost as incantations and blessings to anoint communities that are hurting and seeking a space to heal… we say the names we have learned aloud to remember their legacies—to remember their pilgrimage.

– “Sacred Geography: A Queer Latino Theological Response to Orlando” by Vicente Cervantes[2]

Stanley Almodovar III
Amanda Alvear
Oscar A Aracena-Montero
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala
Antonio Davon Brown[3]

Death doesn’t discriminate / between the sinners / and the saints / it takes and it takes and it takes[4]

Las 49 víctimas inocentes que perdieron la vida el domingo en la masacre de Orlando fueron descritas anoche como mártires de la lucha por la igualdad de los derechos de la comunidad lesbiana, gay, bisexual, transexual y transgénero (LGBTT).[5]

And yet, Latino organizations had to hold a press conference to get the media to acknowledge that the shooting happened not just inside of a LGBT club but on a Latin night too.[6]

Darryl Roman Burt II
Angel L. Candelario-Padro
Juan Chevez-Martinez
Luis Daniel Conde
Cory James Connell[7]

See, I never thought I’d live past twenty / Where I come from some get half as many / Ask anybody why we livin’ fast and we laugh, reach for a flask / We have to make this moment last…[8]

Orlando might have 600,000 Puerto Ricans, but as Steven Thrasher has observed, many mainstream news sources in the United States have ignored or minimized the specificity of the murder victims at Pulse nightclub in Orlando:

the fact that 23 of the 49 persons who were killed by Omar Mateen were Puerto Rican;

that 90% of those killed were Latinas/os, mostly LGBT Latinas/os and their relatives and friends;

that their faces were black, white, and brown, the children of the African diaspora;

that most of them were working class and extremely young;

that, as Juana María Rodríguez has pointed out, they were at Pulse on Latin night, celebrating the life-affirming practices of music and dance and shared culture among friends.[9]

Tevin Eugene Crosby
Deonka Deidra Drayton
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez
Leroy Valentin Fernandez
Mercedez Marisol Flores[10]

“Who lives, / who dies, / who tells your story?[11]

Un hombre que se identificó como un supuesto amante de Omar Seddique Mateen, el pistolero que asesinó a 49 personas en el club Pulse, de Orlando, señaló durante una entrevista con la periodista María Elena Salinas, de Univision Noticias, que el ataque que realizó Mateen se trató de una venganza en contra de los puertorriqueños.[12]

Mateen knew who he went to slaughter. We know this now. New Republic’s egregious oversight gives the impression that a general LGBTQ crowd was targeted. Well, it wasn’t. This is Step One of “the people-of-color erasure”…

May this serve as an outcry to stop allowing this erasure of people-of-color in urgent LGBTQ narratives, where we often find ourselves on the front-lines of heated confrontations fueled by economic and racial marginalization.

The victims of the Pulse Orlando Massacre deserve better than that, and for that matter, so does the rest of the world. Let us be clear as to who we’re speaking of when honoring martyrs, such as they were.[13]

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz
Juan Ramon Guerrero
Paul Terrell Henry
Frank Hernandez
Miguel Angel Honorato[14]

When are these colonies / gonna rise up?[15]

But better does not mean ideal, particularly in Puerto Rico, a territory that has been subjected to colonial rule by the United States since 1898, where the economy has been in a recession for over a decade and the government is banned from declaring bankruptcy by the United States legislature and Supreme Court.

The U.S. colony has been profoundly affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, by drug violence and by the collapse of the social contract.

The constant social, political, and economic crises in Puerto Rico throughout the 20th and now 21st centuries have generated major migration to the United States, facilitated by the fact that all Puerto Ricans hold U.S. citizenship since 1917, which means that we can travel freely between the two locations.

And millions of Puerto Ricans have left the island, many of them LGBT.

Thousands have gone to Orlando, Florida, because of the poverty, violence, lack of opportunities, and in some cases the homophobia they face back home.[16]

Javier Jorge-Reyes
Jason Benjamin Josaphat
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla
Christopher Andrew Leinonen[17]

History has its / eyes on you[18]

Officials said that while it’s still unclear how many of the 23 Puerto Ricans killed were born on the U.S. mainland or had moved there from the island, they expect many of them to be laid to rest in Puerto Rico in the coming days…

Several of the Puerto Ricans killed had moved to the U.S. mainland and settled in Orlando to flee a dire economic crisis that has sparked the largest such exodus in decades.

“They thought they were going to have more freedom over there, only to be met with death,” Serrano said. “Neither Orlando, nor Puerto Rico, nor the world are safe places.”[19]

…if 25 of the 50 perished were Puerto Rican as some sources report, then the Pulse Orlando Massacre was bloodier than Puerto Rico’s most historic tragedies, namely the Río Piedras Massacre of 1935 (4 nationalist party casualties) and the infamous Ponce Massacre of 1937 (21 total deaths). The motivations for the violence incited may have been different, but our people (and now others) have given their lives, be it for independence as a nation or as individuals.[20]

Alejandro Barrios Martinez
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez
Kimberly Morris
Akyra Monet Murray[21]

Love is Love is Love is Love is Love is Love is Love is Love.[22]

Like plenty of my friends looking for an escapist respite from the unspeakable shock and horror at the slaughter at Pulse… I tuned into the Tonys to watch Hamilton’s triumphant evening…

As Hamilton is Nuyorican Miranda’s hip-hop love song to both the Caribbean-born forgotten Founding Father and to more recent generations of immigrants, so too was the massacre on Latin Night at Pulse an immigrant story – and a reminder that America, at its heart, is an immigrant story…

[But] It’s not enough to be “young, scrappy, and hungry” when you’re an outsider by definition – because you’re queer, because you’re an immigrant, because you’re not white, because you’re not Christian – and when your very existence is subject to erasure by the forces of hatred.[23]

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera
Joel Rayon Paniagua
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez[24]

Raise a glass to freedom / Something they can never take away / No matter what they tell you / Let’s have another round tonight[25]

“Pulse, and the men and women who work there, have been my family for nearly 15 years. From the beginning, Pulse has served as place of love and acceptance for the LGBTQ community.”[26]

I’ve thought a lot about how Pulse’s Latin Night was just that: an autonomous space safe for Latino queers not in getting shelter from heterosexuals, but from a white gay culture that doesn’t see them.[27]

Search for a list of the names and you’ll see they were our brothers and sisters and cousins, a mostly young Puerto Rican and Latino crowd that jammed into the Pulse Orlando nightclub on Latin Night to watch Boricua entertainers, to drink and dance to salsa and other Latin sounds while enjoying the company of others from the community—a sanctuary.[28]

“It was their favorite place to go because it was where he could be the most himself and where she could see him be himself the most”[29]

Enrique L. Rios, Jr.
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan[30]

 There’s a million things I haven’t done / but just you wait.[31]

Kenya Michaels, a drag queen from Puerto Rico, was scheduled to appear at Pulse on Saturday evening along with another entertainer called Jasmine International, according to Michaels’ Facebook page, which displayed a flyer for the show. Yara Sofia, another Puerto Rican drag queen and reality television personality, said Michaels was safe.

“She got out with manager Neema,” Sofia said on Facebook.[32]

Edward Sotomayor Jr.
Shane Evan Tomlinson
Martin Benitez Torres
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez[33]

Look around, / look around, / at how lucky we are / to be alive right now![34]

Outside, Puerto Rico is still a colony, being allowed to drown in debt, to suffer, without the right to file for bankruptcy, to protect itself. Outside, there are more than 100 bills targeting you, your choices, your people, pending in various states…

But inside, it is loud and sexy and on. If you’re lucky, it’s a mixed crowd, muscle Marys and bois and femme fags and butch dykes and genderqueers. If you’re lucky, no one is wearing much clothing, and the dance floor is full. If you’re lucky, they’re playing reggaeton, salsa, and you can move.[35]

Luis S. Vielma
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon
Jerald Arthur Wright[36]

Life doesn’t discriminate / between the sinners and the saints / it takes and it takes and it takes / and we keep living anyway / we rise and we fall /  and we break and we make our mistakes / and if there’s a reason I’m still alive / when so many have died…[37]

{My cousin writes a FB status update}:

Puerto Rican news on the island have estimated that almost 25 of the 49 victims were Puerto Rican that were from the island or have Puerto Rican heritage. Officially 15 of the 25 victims were from the island, and they were living here for years or they recently moved because of the situation. As a Gay Puerto Rican, I implore solidarity with the Puerto Rican community, but especially with the Puerto Rican and Latinx LGTBQ+ community that have been the most hurt. Our hearts are broken![38]


Li Yun Alvarado

Li Yun Alvarado is a poet and scholar whose work has appeared in The Acentos Review, PALABRA, A Magazine of Chicano and Latino Literary Art, and others. She is currently the Senior Poetry Editor for Kweli Journal and an alumna of VONA/Voices Writing Workshop and AROHO. www.liyunalvarado.com


[1] Pietri, Pedro. “Puerto Rican Obituary.” Puerto Rican Obituary. 1st edition, Monthly Review Press, 1973. pp 1-11.

[2] Cervantes, Vicente. “Sacred Geography: A Queer Latino Theological Response to Orlando.” Religion Dispatches, Diane Winston, 13 June 2016, http://religiondispatches.org/sacred-geography-a-queer-latino-theological-response-to-orlando/

[3] “Victims’ Names.” City of Orlando. 12 June 2016, www.cityoforlando.net/blog/victims/

[4] Leslie Odom, Jr. as Aaron Burr & the Original Broadway Cast of Hamilton: An American Musical in “Wait for It”

“Wait for it.” Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording), performed by Leslie Odom, Jr., and Original Broadway Cast of Hamilton, Atlantic, 2015.

[5] Alvarado León, Gerardo E. “Puerto Rico lamenta la tragedia en Orlando.” endi, ElNuevoDia.com, 15 junio 2016, 12:00 a.m., http://www.elnuevodia.com/noticias/locales/nota/puertoricolamentalatragediaenorlando-2210604/

[6] Thrasher, Steven W. “LGBT People of Color Refuse to be Erased After Orlando: ‘We Have to Elbow In.’” The Guardian, 18 June 2016, 10:35a.m., https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jun/18/orlando-latino-lgbt-media-whitewash

[7] “Victims’ Names.” City of Orlando. 12 June 2016, www.cityoforlando.net/blog/victims/

[8] Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton in “My Shot”

“My Shot.” Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording), performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Anthony Ramos, Daveed Diggs, Okieriete Onaodowan, Leslie Odom, Jr., and Original Broadway Cast of Hamilton, Atlantic, 2015.

[9] La Fountain-Stokes, Lawrence. “Queer Puerto Ricans and the Burden of Violence.” Latino USA, The Futuro Media Group, 21 June 2016, http://latinousa.org/2016/06/21/opinion-queer-puerto-ricans-burden-violence/

[10] “Victims’ Names.” City of Orlando. 12 June 2016, www.cityoforlando.net/blog/victims/

[11] Christopher Jackson as George Washington and the Original Broadway Cast of Hamilton: An American Musical in “History Has Its Eyes On You”

“History Has Its Eyes On You.” Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording), performed by Christopher Jackson, Lin-Manuel Miranda & Original Broadway Cast of Hamilton, Atlantic, 2015.

[12] “Venganzas contra los puertorriqueños el ataque de Mateen.” endi, ElNuevoDia.com, 21 junio 2016, 9:36 p.m., http://www.elnuevodia.com/noticias/internacionales/nota/venganzacontralospuertorriquenoselataquedemateen-2213281/

[13] Vázquez, Charlie. “Can We Stop Erasing Latinos from the Orlando Massacre Narrative?” Latino Rebels, 17 June 2016, http://www.latinorebels.com/2016/06/17/can-we-stop-erasing-latinos-from-the-orlando-massacre-narrative/

[14] “Victims’ Names.” City of Orlando. 12 June 2016, www.cityoforlando.net/blog/victims/

[15] Anthony Ramos as John Laurens and the Original Broadway Cast of Hamilton: An American Musical in “My Shot”

“My Shot.” Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording), performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Anthony Ramos, Daveed Diggs, Okieriete Onaodowan, Leslie Odom, Jr., and Original Broadway Cast of Hamilton, Atlantic, 2015.

[16] La Fountain-Stokes, Lawrence. “Queer Puerto Ricans and the Burden of Violence.” Latino USA, The Futuro Media Group, 21 June 2016, http://latinousa.org/2016/06/21/opinion-queer-puerto-ricans-burden-violence/

[17] “Victims’ Names.” City of Orlando. 12 June 2016, www.cityoforlando.net/blog/victims/

[18] Christopher Jackson as George Washington, Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton, and the Original Broadway Cast of Hamilton: An American Musical in “History has its eyes on you”

“History has its eyes on you.” Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording), performed by Christopher Jackson, Lin-Manuel Miranda & Original Broadway Cast of Hamilton, Atlantic, 2015.

[19] Coto, Danica. “Puerto Rico mourns, prepares to bury those killed at club.” U.S. News & World Report, 15 June 2016, 2:55 p.m., www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2016-06-15/puerto-rico-mourns-prepares-to-bury-those-killed-at-club

[20] Vázquez, Charlie. “¡We’ll Never Forget the Pulse Orlando Massacre!” Sofrito for Your Soul, 14 June 2016, www.sofritoforyoursoul.com/well-never-forget-the-pulse-orlando-massacre/

[21] “Victims’ Names.” City of Orlando. 12 June 2016, www.cityoforlando.net/blog/victims/

[22] Miranda, Lin-Manuel. “My wife’s the reason anything gets done.” Tony Awards 2016 Acceptance Speeches, 70th Annual Tony Awards – Best Score: Hamilton: An American Musical. Tony Award Productions, 12 June 2016, http://www.tonyawards.com/en_US/tonynight/2016_acceptance_speeches.html

[23] Lekus, Ian “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells our Stories.” The North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA), NYU Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS), 15 June 2016, www.nacla.org/news/2016/06/15/who-lives-who-dies-who-tells-our-stories

[24] “Victims’ Names.” City of Orlando. 12 June 2016, www.cityoforlando.net/blog/victims/

[25] Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton, Anthony Ramos as John Laurens, Okieriete Onaodowan as Hercules Mulligan, Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette, and the Original Broadway Cast of Hamilton: An American Musical in “The Story of Tonight”

“The Story of Tonight.” Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording), performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Anthony Ramos, Okieriete Onaodowan, Daveed Diggs & Original Broadway Cast of Hamilton, Atlantic, 2015.

[26] Barbara Poma qtd. in Hjelmgaard

Hjelmgaard, Kim. “Scene of mass shooting more than ‘just another gay club.’” USA Today,

12 June 2016, 7:20 p.m., www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2016/06/12/pulse-more-than-just-another-gay-club/85785762/

[27] Thrasher, Steven W. “LGBT People of Color Refuse to be Erased After Orlando: ‘We Have to Elbow In.’” The Guardian, 18 June 2016, 10:35a.m., https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jun/18/orlando-latino-lgbt-media-whitewash

[28] Vázquez, Charlie. “¡We’ll Never Forget the Pulse Orlando Massacre!” Sofrito for Your Soul, 14 June 2016, www.sofritoforyoursoul.com/well-never-forget-the-pulse-orlando-massacre/

[29] Wilson Cruz (aka Rickie Vasquez in “My So-Called Life”) qtd. in Moreno

Moreno, Carolina. “Wilson Cruz Says Orlando Shooting Was A ‘Direct Attack On LGBT Latinos.’” The Huffington Post (Latino Voices),14 June 2016, 3:37 p.m., www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/wilson-cruz-says-orlando-shooting-was-a-direct-attack-on-lgbt-latinos_us_575f5fb3e4b0e4fe51438e7b

[30] “Victims’ Names.” City of Orlando. 12 June 2016, www.cityoforlando.net/blog/victims/

[31] Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton in “Alexander Hamilton”

“Alexander Hamilton.” Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording), performed by Leslie Odom, Jr., Anthony Ramos, Daveed Diggs, Okieriete Onaodowan, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Phillipa Soo, Christopher Jackson & Original Broadway Cast of Hamilton. Atlantic, 2015.

[32] Hjelmgaard, Kim. “Scene of mass shooting more than ‘just another gay club.’” USA Today,

12 June 2016, 7:20 p.m., www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2016/06/12/pulse-more-than-just-another-gay-club/85785762/

[33] “Victims’ Names.” City of Orlando. 12 June 2016, www.cityoforlando.net/blog/victims/

[34] Renée Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler, Phillipa Soo as Eliza Schuyler, Jasmine Cephas-Jones as Peggy Schuyler, and the Original Broadway Cast of Hamilton: An American Musical in “The Schuyler Sisters”

“The Schuyler Sisters.” Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording), performed by Phillipa Soo, Jasmine Cephas-Jones, Renée Elise Goldsberry, and Original Broadway Cast of Hamilton, Atlantic, 2015.

[35] Torres, Justin. “In praise of Latin Night at the Queer Club.” The Washington Post, 13 June 2016, www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/in-praise-of-latin-night-at-the-queer-club/2016/06/13/e841867e-317b-11e6-95c0-2a6873031302_story.html

[36] “Victims’ Names.” City of Orlando. 12 June 2016, www.cityoforlando.net/blog/victims/

[37] Leslie Odom, Jr. as Aaron Burr & the Original Broadway Cast of Hamilton: An American Musical in “Wait for It”

“Wait for it.” Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording), performed by Leslie Odom, Jr., and Original Broadway Cast of Hamilton, Atlantic, 2015.

[38] “Dear US friends and friends from other countries.” Facebook. 14 June 2016, 8:34 a.m.

That Night

Fifty people are dead after a man opened fire early Sunday inside a gay nightclub in Orlando

-New York Times
June 12, 2016

That night we drank a few shots at the bar
That night we were shot many times at the bar

That night the bartender cried, “Last call!”
That night we frantically made last calls

That night the music pulsed through our veins
That night the bullets tore through our veins

That night we got down and sweated together
That night we fell down and bled together

That night the bartender mixed Bloody Marys
That night the killer fixed bloody Marys

That night some of us shared our first kiss
That night all of us shared our last kiss

That night we danced in each other’s arms
That night we died in each other’s arms

That night turned into a cloud-streaked morning
That night turned into a tear-streaked mourning

“That Night” copyright © 2016 by Lesléa Newman. Reprinted by permission of the author.


Lesléa Newman

Lesléa Newman’s 70 books include OCTOBER MOURNING: A SONG FOR MATTHEW SHEPARD (novel-in-verse), I CARRY MY MOTHER (poetry collection), and HEATHER HAS TWO MOMMIES (children’s book). A past poet laureate of Northampton, MA, and NEA poetry fellow, she lives with her spouse, Mary Vazquez, a retired club deejay, in Massachusetts.

 

The Other

We were always the Other
A mistake of Nature
An enigma, an embarrassment, a threat
Scorned, feared, hated
Guilty
Of dark degenerate desires
And the abominable vice
Among Christians not to be named.

But for us they had plenty of names:
Faggot, cocksucker, sodomite
Fairy, pansy, degenerate
Bugger, pederast, queer
Insults hurled
Like missiles from the catapult tongues
Of the tattooed macho hunks of normality
Frightened (and rightly so)
By this forbidden hinterland
And black hole of depravity
This spreading cancer of queerdom
Scared
Of our raging madcap sperm
And the sweetmeat of our sex.

And we endured.

They said we were diseased, offered cures:
Cold baths, mathematics, the brothel
And failing those
(This from a Christian philosopher)
Rubbing the anus with the fur of a hyena.

No go; we endured.

Blaming us for earthquakes
Solar eclipses, famines, plague
And the collapse of Western civilization
They reviled us, locked us up
(In prisons where gay love raged)
Lynched us, sodomized us, hanged us
And with judicial niceties and prayers
Burned us at the stake.

Anguished, we endured.

Spiked by guilt
We wallowed in the soup of shame
Snuck about, faked it, resorted
To a sneaky little shadow world of fun
A hush-hush world
Of smoke-filled, crowded bars
Graciously provided by the Mafia
Where, guarded by the thug at the door
Who kept out all heterosexuals
Except the police dropping by for a payoff,
Thanks to whose tender-hearted greed
Here and here only
Discreetly
We could be who we were.

In those dingy precincts we endured.

Then society turned soft
And we became an interesting study
An anomaly to be explained and corrected:
Ministers sermonized us
Confessors confessed us
Weepy ladies pitied us, psychologists
Did their utmost to rearrange our minds.

We walked small, we suffered, we endured.

Times change, worms turn.
When hassled once too often
By the regimented minions of order
We rioted, we organized, we marched
Scores, hundreds, thousands
To an onslaught of jeers, then cheers
As “gay” became “in,” became chic
And it was whee time, it was glory
And we danced our ass off, alive
In every weirdo fiber of our being
Pulsing with the energy of hope
Because at long and joyous last
In this fierce intensity of music
And rabid hot-cock jazz
We were free free free free free

Till they shot us, killed us dead.


Clifford Browder

Clifford Browder is a writer living in New York City.  He has published two biographies, a novel, poetry in small reviews, and an award-winning  selection of posts from his blog, “No Place for Normal: New York,” which is about anything and everything New York.

Geranio (Geranium) 6/21

to fill the spaces

your people will
plant the seeds of your life
in the emptiness

moon flower and morning glory
in the places you slept

iris and day lily
on the plates you ate from

yuca and maíz
where you spoke
and laughed
and wept

lemon and mango
where you danced
boughs heavy with fruit

crocus and rose
on the skin your lips touched

everywhere life will remember you
will carry your memory
each new blossom
a throne for your soul

to fill the spaces

i hope that your loved ones
are not strangers to each other
that their first meeting
will not be
at your funeral

i pray they will
teach each other
the names of flowers
that are foreign to them

will they lean on each other
fill the blanks in each other’s eulogies?
or keep clear the boundary
insist on a single version of you?

i pray that they will not
deny you
that hate will not make a
Peter out of them

my grief widens
for the barbs and arrows
you will suffer even in death

to fill the spaces

slowly a seedling breaks through its shell
ash
dirt
rain
softly the sun sighs on scorched valleys
the earth beats steady as it turns
your absence aches like ripping away
like a fire past
like the birth of new forests


Lucas Garcia

Lucas Garcia is originally from Albuquerque, NM and is now based in Chicago, IL. They are a playwright, poet, and fiction writer; their work can be found in plainchina  and in Re:Visions.

A Surreal Grieving Response

These bells had clappers removed.
Give them a hand or helping leg up –
without, within.  Give anything
to revive the silenced whose stories are still
contained as the music of a not-struck drum.
Resonance is the ripples of a stone
dropped through water
even when there’s no plop,
a hand just letting go
submerged in circles
where something holy might well.

So these souls are astonished,
becoming history rung round,
more concentric yet
after the actions which stopped them.

Love each beyond their terror-struck blood
recorded on cell phones, the text message
journalism of first-hand accounts,
this techno-world’s camera
witnessing Perils instantaneous
and direct to the home front
so helpless in getting immediate rescue to anyone.

Love past the too-easily-gotten rat-a-tat-tat,
the stampeding screaming, the lone lunatic gunman
fed by masses of glorious hatred eon-delivered
for a single night at a Pulsing Gay Club.

Oh Orlando, Orlando, rainbow processions of candles
and petals shower again and again Dolores as sorrow is
when translated from Spanish though time after time,
the lives could speak any tongue.

Love beyond this as an antidote for violence,
prayers for humanity and every existence sacred
is the song armies of lovers sing so casualties may know
survivors have won.

But what of rage bleeding for peace
when still, after all, in unison, no global answer
of perpetuity ever rings waves across oceans
to every single struggling land?


Stephen Mead

A resident of NY, Stephen Mead is a published artist, writer, maker of short-collage films and sound-collage downloads. His latest P.O.D. amazon release is an art-text hybrid, “According to the Order of Nature (We too are Cosmos Made)”, a work which takes to task the words which have been used against LGBT folks from time immemorial.  In 2014 he began a webpage to gather links of his poetry being published in such zines as Great Works, Unlikely Stories, Quill & Parchment, etc., in one place:  Poetry on the Line, Stephen Mead

 

 

Watch me catch fire with both hands

He was a glass of spume salty as the Caribbean in June and I worshipped him as the Summer    Summer knows burning’s the only way out so several times a year  we took turns  being Summer   We stoked each other lithe as wildfires On some nights I was clever                                          enough to spread across his back On other nights I was clever   on all fours pretending to be an altar

There is a science to going up  in flames  Or
an art  Or denial  Like the morning after I gave him love        and with it he built     fire                We watched it neon singe-browed pretending to be gods slip  ping                                     tiny blades           back and forth         with our tongues

Whenever I start to miss him I remember the mess        The mess we left    behind   The mess    after a roman candle             r o  m   a    n   c a n  d l e s          A body              ’s rejection of its own                     has always terrified me              We are people                         of the body Christlike       in only that way                         People of blood    and salt       and bile              The salt left after the hogs have trampled the lilies and the pollen stains everything left                     the center of a peach after the pit is coerced from its dignity the shaping of beef into discs and the Sazón and blood underneath your nails once the discs are seasoned

things that sound alike are not                        alike     a body arched no         not arched    slungover vetiver       A body not slung          or slug but more accurately split    no  not exactly slit into or splat out of but but t e r f l o w n        Allow me to address the devil There is so much I must tell you       not want           must  I don’t like pretty Pretty is decorative Doesn’t ask enough of an audience              Less of a reader Such unnecessary ornamentation is not a challenge and I am unwilling to give into that
Pretty is     a hand inside of me
of why i’ll end up red as wanting steady as I stuck my fingers between
the fingers of his crisp and he taught me this is what rape feels like.


Roberto F. Santiago

Roberto F. Santiago received his MFA from Rutgers University, and BA from Sarah Lawrence College. He is a 2016 Community of Writers Fellow, 2015 Sarah Lawrence Fellow, 2014 Lambda Literary Fellow, the recipient of the Alfred C. Carey Poetry Prize, and his debut book of poetry was a finalist for the 2016 Lambda Literary Award for Poetry. Roberto writes and produces his own music, and likens himself to Tennessee Williams in a poodle skirt, Gloria Anzaldúa in culottes, and/or James Merrill in short-shorts. Currently, he works as an educator in San Francisco and lives in Oakland with a fiction writer and 15 year old cat that edits most of his poetry…whether he asks her to, or not.