Queer poetry is the rare branch of romantic poetry that does not make me sick. In fact, if one delves deep into the recesses of this genre, the word “romance” becomes redundant. It rings more like a song, feels more like worship, and sounds incredibly like a quiet scream.
Suggested read: Langston Hughes And His Top 10 Poems
Here is a compilation of my favorites, so far:
- Aubade by Kevin Simmonds
“love, our bathroom
we made together
toilet rim wiped clean
or not wiped clean
we are molecular in here
hair wrought from our temples
the creams their promises
mirror specked with
what floss flung out
above the collected tissues”
This poem describes the morning routine of his beloved. The imagery almost takes you there, as a third-person omniscient observer. It is a different story, a different love, a different time, but it feels like yours. That is perhaps the gift of great poetry- it speaks to you in whispers.
- Dear love by Margaret Rhee
“for queer youth
it may not get better, and it may get worse, or you’ll get stronger, or you’ll
make it better. maybe heaven is 21 and free in a gay bar: just kiss his lips, love.
we didn’t dream of anal sex, or fisting, and dental dams, rainbow flags and miller lite,
christina aguilera on that stage, all we hoped for first, was love.
because if i could, I’d take her hand in mine, I’d spin her out, hold her in,
rock her back and forth, hips all around mine, don’t worry love, love.”
This poem does not cater to orchestration, to ostentatious show of love. You do not need cross-continental surprises. You do not need expensive flowers that die in their bloom. You do not even, in some countries, need the pomp and ceremony of marriage. All you really need, is each other. That is enough. That is always enough.
- no time to be afraid by Minnie Bruce Pratt
“Got no time to be afraid,” said the balancing waitress,
bacon and eggs on four plates. We’re eating breakfast
at the diner, you are talking and I begin this poem. You
are thinner, more tests says the doctor. The only things
between me and death are these words, as long as I
carry them around and write them down, you won’t die,
and as long as I write and write, the words will still
fall over us like a snow shower in May, the day we sat
in the car at Schiller Park, and watched the wind blow
snowflakes like dandelion fluff onto new green grass,
tiny ice fell on us, a faint crinkle, melting on the glass.”
Doesn’t this tear your heart out and leave it bleeding on an iron maiden of roses? The line kills me: “the only things/ between me and death are these words, as long as I/ carry them around and write them down, you won’t die.” Watching your loved ones die, is the worst joke this world has ever played. Immortalizing them in poetry, however, is a kind of pain this human heart struggles to bear. More power to Leslie.
- bodymap by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samasinha
“if a map is created by conquerers and the unconquered
if the empire can shrink africa but africa remains how big she is
these maps can be rewritten.
re write my body.
each day I tip tincture to lips,
drip three drips, whisper
This is my favorite among queer poetry, in this series. Everything about the use of emotion, metaphor, line-breaks, wordplay- all of it, screams perfection. “I can already feel where we will make each other’s bodies new”, she writes. This piece is an ode to the power of love, and our eternal thirst for redemption. Change me.
- Love Poem to a Butch Woman by Deborah A. Miranda
“This is how it is with me:
so strong, I want to draw the egg
from your womb and nourish it in my own.
I want to mother your child made only
of us, of me, you: no borrowed seed
from any man. I want to re-fashion
the matrix of creation, make a human being
from the human love that passes between
our bodies. Sweetheart, this is how it is:
when you emerge from the bedroom
in a clean cotton shirt, sleeves pushed back
over forearms, scented with cologne
from an amber bottle—I want to open
my heart, the brightest aching slit
of my soul, receive your pearl.
I watch your hands, wait for the sign
that means you’ll touch me,
open me, fill me; wait for that moment
when your desire leaps inside me.”
Poignant, isn’t it? The ardent desire to raise children made out of bodies that don’t fit together. Yet. The only thing I want from a scientific future, apart from world peace, is the ability to overcome natural limitations on human bodies. You cannot tell me whom to love. My affection should only lead to insurmountable joy. Please let me be able to make, break, create – with my self.
- Fear, a love poem by Cherrie Moraga
“If fear is two girls awakening in the same room
after a lifetime of sleeping together
she saying, I dreamed it was the end of the world
sister, it was the end you knowing this in your sleep
her terror seeping through skin into your dreams, holding her
sensing something moving too fast
as with a lover,
dressing and dreaming
in the same room.”
Waking up in the heart of a taboo can never be easy, can it? Moraga speaks precisely about the fear that accompanies self-discovery. What happens when, one fine day, you realize that the rest of your life is going to be a long, drawn-out war? Often, we focus on the hatred outsider brings to the LGBTQ family. But we forget the tumultuous relationship they share with their own bodies, struggling to come to terms with their identity.
- kriti by Biswamit Dwibedy
“constellations swirl (in the
sweetness of his spit
oceans roar in
the salt of his sweat
we’re breathless without his words
goes in to the closet to pray
a bell ringing
for spiritual awakening
over a bevy of boys
in an elliptical path
begin to look like yours.”
I have no words for this piece. It is insanely personal, yet glaringly universal. It is contradictions, and reconciliations, in secret- between your heart and the poet. You know nothing about it. These words were painful to read, worse still to understand, but beautiful through and through.
- open by Kim Crosby
“I’ve never written a love poem before
I write proud poems
A knock you down to the floor poem
But never a love poem
I met you broken
Gorgeous, bruised, you told me you loved me before you met me
And I laughed…
…I did not trust, could not let you in
Pushed you hard away from the softest parts of .
I did not trust you with the truth of me
I am a legacy of sorrow borne to this earth before I knew breath
But baby your blackness
We block out the sun
In an eclipse, the whole world knows the beauty, the solace, the endlessness of the darkness
And baby, you know I love it in the dark”
This queer love poem is an ode to acceptance, to the redemption of broken souls. How beautiful is it when somebody loves and cradles your broken pieces back to life? How beautiful to have found somebody who draws the moon into your darkest nights. How beautiful it is, to have found love in all its glory, and had the chance to keep it?
- unbordering bodies by Tamiko Beyer
“M asks for a favorite
where the world enters
many to single/signal
what means l::o::v::e
impossible to fish one
the sweetest on the tongue then
L names language as
another classist tool to alienate
true :: equally true
language ground then sharpened
in the mouth of (an)other(s) is
water’s expanse to liberation”
I dream of a world where you no longer need categories to denote different people. The one greatest virtue of the Feminist uprising, is the desire not to be special or hailed, but to be equal. Similarly, in the case of the LBGTQ, language sometimes leads to an identity primarily based on your sexuality. In trying to identify, and categorize, we often divide them into jarring fragments.
- Dear J. by Kazim Ali
“It should be a letter
To the man inside
I could not become
Dressed in yellow
And green, the colors of spring
So I could leave death
In its chamber veined
With deep ore
I’ve no more to tell you
Last winter I climbed
The mountains of Musoorie
To hear frozen peals of bell and wire
A silver thread of sound
Sky to navel
like the black strip
in a flower’s throat
meant to guide you in
I lie now in the winter
open-petaled beneath Sirius
I cereus bloom”
This piece of writing pulls me out of my skin, in the kindest way possible, and makes my heart explode in outer space. ‘Sirius’ means ‘star’, and ‘cereus’ is the cactus. Essentially, the poet means that the sky has drawn him to it ‘sky to navel’, like an umbilical cord, like a fly-trap deceptively draws the bee, and he lays under the stars now, like a cactus – in full bloom. Excuse me, but I have never read a metaphor more beautiful. Queer love poems, as a genre of poetry is so soft, beautiful, and reads like a miracle.
Suggested read: #NaPoWriMo Here Are Some Of The Best Poems By Wisława Szymborska
Poetry has been my safe place, my saving grace. There is something about the genre of queer poetry, that makes me particularly partial towards it. I am grateful to have been present during this era of poetry. Truly, what a time it is to be alive.
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