Journalism In Verse

stonewall_riot

WE THE HOMOSEXUALS

in Identity/Photo Challenge by

WE THE HOMOSEXUALS PLEAD WITH
OUR PEOPLE TO PLEASE HELP
MAINTAIN PEACEFUL AND QUIET
CONDUCT ON THE STREETS OF
THE VILLAGE—MATTACHINE 1969

When you have no more paper,
write with sound
on the windows of a body,
fill street with body,
break street with body.

We plead with our bodies
to know how far breaking can go,
how far street can fall,
and what sound it makes
on the subway cart’s skull,
gravel on metal
on rail.

There is nothing left,
but maintaining.
There is no more quiet in us.

We used our quiet on nights
eating each other’s names out of fear,
hunger to know the depth
of another person.

Now even, now,
I remember
there are always bodies under me,
the rattle of metal,
the travel of soul
under earth.

Layers of apartments,
tucked one beneath the next
like bodies,
sweating
with June humidity.

I want a Village for us
with all kind of windows.
I need to break them,
inside, a sort of quiet,
the kind of quiet we had
when there was only mouth,
no gender,
just teeth
and subway,
running like a sob
underneath skin.

 

 

Poet’s Note

I have been working on a project where I write poems in response to the archive of Stone Wall documents at the New York Public Library. A lot of these feature protest signs and by using the signs and the writing of the people from the riots I try to put my poems in conversation with their words. We have come a long way for queer rights since then, but using their words also reveals how much work still needs to be done.

________

Robin Gow‘s poetry has recently been published in POETRY and New Delta Review. He is the Editor of Village of Crickets and Social Media Coordinator for Oyster River Pages. He is an out bisexual transgender man passionate about LGBT issues.

________

Stonewall Riots
[Wikipedia]

What happened at Stonewall Riots and how did they inspire the LGBTQ+ movement?
[Independent]

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