Journalism In Verse

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One Small Brick for Queers, a Giant Leap for Humankind

in Identity by

after the Stonewall riots of 1969

Through the gauze of time,
the moon has seen it all
here on Earth: the evolution
of ape into hominids,
the gestures and grunts
of human language, the myths
surrounding our tiny spot
under the swirl of stars,
the gasps of death and beyond.

Once they realized they might be
God after all, they began naming
with the intent to possess. Theft
sparked one war after another.
They conjured a new mythology,
not yet with pages but footnotes
ratcheted with piles and piles
of bones drained of marrow
still clotting our footprints.

When they discovered they couldn’t
control homosexuals, they killed.
They got creative. They burned
Jeanne d’Arc. They outlawed
sodomites. They guillotined
cross-dressing traitors. They lobo-
tomized effete inverts. They gassed
pink triangles at Dachau. They black-
listed suspected faggots.

In 1969, we were just queer street kids.
We had run away to New York City
and discovered we weren’t orphaned
after all. We weren’t related to each other
in those dingy Mafia-owned gay bars,
or cruising for anonymous sex in the alleys,
but our blood had the same family name.
Some of us happened to show up at Stonewall.
Just another summer night, right?

The moon, having seen it all, knew
what was supposed to happen, but no,
she didn’t want the same old ending
this time. She blew us nelly queens,
blessed with the power of makeup and spite,
a kiss so fiery that it launched rockets
inside our bones. We picked up our first bricks
and lobbed them against those puckered faces
who had haunted us every night.

Not even a month later Neil Armstrong
and Buzz Aldrin had the audacity to leap
across the moon’s face, an affront to her veil.
She is grateful that no one bothers her
these days. Yet how many more of us,
no longer barricaded by dogma and laws,
must pray to bounce lightly across the lunar
surface of our dreams into each other’s arms?
We are still astronauts aglitter with our first bricks.

 

________

Raymond Luczak is the author and editor of 22 books, including Flannelwood (Red Hen Press) and Lovejets: Queer Male Poets on 200 Years of Walt Whitman (Squares & Rebels). He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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