Rainbow Verses: The Vibrant World of Queer Poetry

Step into the kaleidoscope of queer poetry, where each verse dances with vibrant colors of love, identity, and unapologetic self-expression.

Author's Corner LGBTQ Voices Poetry & Drama Recommendations

Queer poetry is a kaleidoscope of voices, emotions, and experiences that transcends traditional boundaries. It is a vibrant tapestry woven from threads of love, struggle, identity, and resilience, offering readers a unique glimpse into the hearts and minds of LGBTQ+ individuals. From the whispered confessions of forbidden love to the bold proclamations of self-acceptance, queer poetry captures the essence of what it means to live authentically in a world that often seeks to define us by narrow norms. Join us on a journey through the rainbow-colored pages of queer poetry, where every verse is a step towards understanding and celebrating the diverse spectrum of human experience.

Didn’t Sappho say her guts clutched up like this? by Marilyn Hacker

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Didn’t Sappho say her guts clutched up like this?
Before a face suddenly numinous,
her eyes watered, knees melted. Did she lactate
again, milk brought down by a girl’s kiss?
It’s documented torrents are unloosed
by such events as recently produced
not the wish, but the need, to consume, in us,
one pint of Maalox, one of Kaopectate.
My eyes and groin are permanently swollen,
I’m alternatingly brilliant and witless
—and sleepless: bed is just a swamp to roll in.
Although I’d cream my jeans touching your breast,
sweetheart, it isn’t lust; it’s all the rest
of what I want with you that scares me shitless.

Movement Song by Audre Lorde

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I have studied the tight curls on the back of your neck
moving away from me
beyond anger or failure
your face in the evening schools of longing
through mornings of wish and ripen
we were always saying goodbye
in the blood in the bone over coffee
before dashing for elevators going
in opposite directions
without goodbyes. Do not remember me as a bridge nor a roof
as the maker of legends
nor as a trap
door to that world
where black and white clericals
hang on the edge of beauty in five oclock elevators
twitching their shoulders to avoid other flesh
and now
there is someone to speak for them
moving away from me into tomorrows
morning of wish and ripen
your goodbye is a promise of lightning
in the last angels hand
unwelcome and warning
the sands have run out against us
we were rewarded by journeys
away from each other
into desire
into mornings alone
where excuse and endurance mingle
conceiving decision.
Do not remember me
as disaster
nor as the keeper of secrets
I am a fellow rider in the cattle cars
watching
you move slowly out of my bed
saying we cannot waste time
only ourselves.

Footnote to Howl by Allen Ginsberg

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Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy!
The world is holy! The soul is holy! The skin is holy! The nose is holy! The tongue and cock and hand and asshole holy!
Everything is holy! everybody’s holy! everywhere is holy! everyday is in eternity! Everyman’s an angel!
The bum’s as holy as the seraphim! the madman is holy as you my soul are holy!
The typewriter is holy the poem is holy the voice is holy the hearers are holy the ecstasy is holy!
Holy Peter holy Allen holy Solomon holy Lucien holy Kerouac holy Huncke holy Burroughs holy Cassady holy the unknown buggered and suffering beggars holy the hideous human angels!
Holy my mother in the insane asylum! Holy the cocks of the grandfathers of Kansas!
Holy the groaning saxophone! Holy the bop apocalypse! Holy the jazzbands marijuana hipsters peace peyote pipes & drums!
Holy the solitudes of skyscrapers and pavements! Holy the cafeterias filled with the millions! Holy the mysterious rivers of tears under the streets!
Holy the lone juggernaut! Holy the vast lamb of the middleclass! Holy the crazy shepherds of rebellion! Who digs Los Angeles IS Los Angeles!
Holy New York Holy San Francisco Holy Peoria & Seattle Holy Paris Holy Tangiers Holy Moscow Holy Istanbul!
Holy time in eternity holy eternity in time holy the clocks in space holy the fourth dimension holy the fifth International holy the Angel in Moloch!
Holy the sea holy the desert holy the railroad holy the locomotive holy the visions holy the hallucinations holy the miracles holy the eyeball holy the abyss!
Holy forgiveness! mercy! charity! faith! Holy! Ours! bodies! suffering! magnanimity!
Holy the supernatural extra brilliant intelligent kindness of the soul!

A History of Sexual Preference by Robin Becker

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We are walking our very public attraction
through eighteenth-century Philadelphia.
I am simultaneously butch girlfriend
and suburban child on a school trip,
Independence Hall, 1775, home
to the Second Continental Congress.
Although she is wearing her leather jacket,
although we have made love for the first time
in a hotel room on Rittenhouse Square,
I am preparing my teenage escape from Philadelphia,
from Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest continuously occupied
residential street in the nation,
from Carpenters’ Hall, from Congress Hall,
from Graff House where the young Thomas
Jefferson lived, summer of 1776. In my starched shirt
and waistcoat, in my leggings and buckled shoes,
in postmodern drag, as a young eighteenth-century statesman,
I am seventeen and tired of fighting for freedom
and the rights of men. I am already dreaming of Boston—
city of women, demonstrations, and revolution
on a grand and personal scale.

                                                   Then the maître d’

is pulling out our chairs for brunch, we have the
surprised look of people who have been kissing
and now find themselves dressed and dining
in a Locust Street townhouse turned café,
who do not know one another very well, who continue
with optimism to pursue relationship. Eternity
may simply be our mortal default mechanism
set on hope despite all evidence. In this mood,
I roll up my shirtsleeves and she touches my elbow.
I refuse the seedy view from the hotel window.
I picture instead their silver inkstands,
the hoopskirt factory on Arch Street,
the Wireworks, their eighteenth-century herb gardens,
their nineteenth-century row houses restored
with period door knockers.
Step outside.
We have been deeded the largest landscaped space
within a city anywhere in the world. In Fairmount Park,
on horseback, among the ancient ginkgoes, oaks, persimmons,
and magnolias, we are seventeen and imperishable, cutting classes
May of our senior year. And I am happy as the young
Tom Jefferson, unbuttoning my collar, imagining his power,
considering my healthy body, how I might use it in the service
of the country of my pleasure.

Dear Gaybashers by Jill McDonough

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The night we got bashed we told Rusty how
they drove up, yelled QUEER, threw a hot dog, sped off. Rusty: Now, is that gaybashing? Or
are they just calling you queer? Good point. Josey pitied the fools: who buys a perfectly good pack of wieners
and drives around San Francisco chucking them at gays? And who speeds off? Missing the point, the pleasure of the bash?
Dear bashers, you should have seen the hot dog hit my neck, the scarf Josey sewed from antique silk kimonos: so gay. You
missed laughing at us, us confused, your raw hot dog on the ground. Josey and Rusty and Bob make fun of the gaybashers, and I
wash my scarf in the sink. I use Woolite. We worry about insurance, interest rates. Not hot dogs thrown from F-150s,
homophobic freaks. After the bashing, we used the ATM in the sex shop next to Annie’s Social Club, smiled at the kind
owner, his handlebar mustache. Astrud Gilberto sang tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema… and the dildos
gleamed from the walls, a hundred cheerful colors. In San Francisco it rains hot dogs, pity-the-fool. Ass-sized penguins, cock after cock in
azure acrylic, butterscotch glass, anyone’s flesh-tone, chrome.

Queer poetry is more than just words on a page; it is a powerful force for visibility, connection, and change. It challenges us to see beyond our preconceived notions and to embrace the full spectrum of human emotion and identity. Through the lens of queer poets, we are invited to explore the depths of love, pain, joy, and resistance, discovering along the way that our differences are what make us beautifully, unapologetically human. As we close this chapter, let us carry forward the lessons of acceptance and empathy and continue celebrating the voices that enrich our world with their vibrant, unapologetic truth.


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