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Queers! For Christ's Sake!

Poems by

Louie Crew

© 2004 by Louie Crew


Contents

Robert Peters' foreword to a 1988 version of this manuscript

Acknowledgements



 
 

Breathing Calls I've Received

A Meditation

#1

With mouth open, with vocal chords 
on during exhales, off during inhales,
with sounds approximating uh:

inhale, exhale; inhale, exhale;
inhale, exhale; inhale, exhale;
inhale, exhale; inhale, exhale.

Then say softly, as the o in "who"
and sustain through one very long breath:

"oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo...."

#2

Say "Hello." Then, with lips fully
closed, rapidly and loudly click
the top of your tongue against your
soft palate. Alternately breathe
loudly through your nose, as

click, click, click.
inhale, exhale; inhale, exhale;
inhale, exhale.
click, click, click...

until the listener hangs up.

#3

Say seductively, softly, with lots
of breath:

"Hi, sweety. Hey there?
How are you? Hello.
Hi there. You. Yes. You.
Hi, sweety...."

Repeat infinitely. Allow the person
called to speak briefly at any point,
but answer only with this litany.

#4

Pucker your lips as for a kiss.
Inhale through the pucker
in short, continuous jabs of sound,
until you or the one called gets too tired to continue.

#5

In a low crescendo of aspiration,
say ah, but do not turn on 
your vocal
chords when doing so, as

"ah, ah-, ah--, ah---,
Ah, Ah-, Ah--, Ah---,
AH, AH-, AH--, AH---"

Begin again as often as needed.
Alternate the size of your mouth
to vary the effects.

#6

Burp. Slurp. Hiccup.
Burp. Slurp. Hiccup.

#7

Make a series of clicks,
such as a cowboy makes
when he urges horses faster.
Punctuate rigidly thus:
 

2 sets of clicks. Silence.
3 sets of clicks. Silence.
2 sets of 7 clicks. Silence.
5 sets of single clicks. Silence.
Repeat indefinitely.

To Table of Contents
 
 


The Naked Truth


Some blame Mother 
    for every way I'm queer,
just because she used to let me
    watch her dress
from the first day I focused.
 

"It's her showing him
     that did it to him,"
shouted Irene Carter
     across the fence
to Luella Stewart
     when later they read
in the town paper
    that I'd gone to jail
for peace
    or that I'd marched 
for the ERA.
 

"It wasn't natural 
    for a young boy 
to be allowed to see.
    No wonder that now
he likes those loud women,
     the ones who wear trousers!"
Luella said, 
     as she hung out 
her family's huge wash.
 

I saw her again and again
    strap herself into her place.
"Pull tighter 
    to get the double bras to fit,"
she urged when I grew fingers
    long enough to help.
 

Heave; strap; pinch; pull.
    I watched the ritual
a thousand mornings
    as light played 
across the glass paperweight
     on the coffee table
which she'd polished
     before changing
to her society costume,
     --a scullion transforming
into a lady daily
    right before my eyes.
Heave; strap; pinch; pull; fit.
 

"A lady should know her place,"
    Irene, herself Phi Beta Kappa,
muttered as she snapped beans.
 

"Surely," Luella,
    herself a retired librarian,
said,
     "a boy may never want
a man's proper power
     if daily he watched
his mother naked getting dressed."
 

Dab; powder; spray; lotion.
    Heave; strap; pinch; pull; fit.
A thousand times
     I watched Mother struggle,
stuck in a woman's place.

To Table of Contents
 
 


Sunday Brunch

"I could have been 
President except for 
this Queer thing."
 

-- Gore Vidal

It seemed the place to feast, just passing through:
an old house turned Inn, gussied for Church crowds
that creaked around the table. 
 

                                           Yet two knew.
When you forked a small deviled egg and vowed
to skip desserts, I heard the first one snigger.
He rolled his eyes to show his friend that I
had noticed. 
 

                    Waiters squeezed past with bigger
platters. Guests backed up for omelets. My
salad grew monstrous. Older women urged
us to try the black Bratwurst boiled in beer.
Others turned to their own affairs. 
 

                                                 But perched
like mindless parrots, these two young men jeered 
and chortled. 
 

                      I am glad you could not see, 
enjoyed the salmon and the pink chablis.

To Table of Contents
 
 

Pollution

Like Allied Chemical's Capon
homophobia's ultimate lodge
is the brain, though first signals may be
 
  • an eye which twitches at the edges when someone overhears camp in a lobby
  • a nose crunched up when a quean passes redolent of Bal a Versailles
  •  a pulse which startles when one's 7-yr-old son angrily calls his elder brother "Faggot!" as they argue over who should be first-baseman


but the poison targets the brain,
moving speck by bespeckled bit
from nostril and lung pores, through the blood,
till the victim sustains a perpetual, hopeless silence,
one catatonic stare at all that's queer.

To Table of Contents
 
 

Shibboleth


Run, child. The beat of bird wings
flatter your flight.
Spray canned whipped cream as you go.
Each way is home.
Float through funnels,
Bosch dimensions on the way
to heaven and to hell.
Smile, run. Why bite your tongue?
Be Joseph running back!
Suppose Saint Paul 
had married Mary instead?
Suppose you could lick your toe?
You can, you know. 
Run, child, run.
Hear accordions chase you,
the bells in the rain
outside your cave?
Run, sprint, squirt,
touch your nose,
feel your breathing.

Washington slept here, 
alone last night.

Run, child, like old cripples healed,
dashing in eternal light,
enjoying the dazzle as they fall!

Discover speed's stillness.
Run. Run. Run.

To Table of Contents
 
 

Candor


Set sights to be a major female inventor.
Write the country's first great long poem.
Conduct the choir to greatness.
Love our children into learning.
Fill our galleries and decorate our homes.
Preach us into our finest states of grace.
Entertain us with a thousand dances, plays
   and movies.
Design our clothes, dress our hair,
and in America, darling, 
you'll still be just a queer.

To Table of Contents
 
 

 

The Lash Through History 


Friends, Romans, countrymen,
     welcome to the Coliseum.
It is a lovely afternoon here in Rome.
     My name is Tiberius Cicero
and I am delighted
     to be able to bring to you live
the fight between the fierce Christians
     from Antioch
and Caesar's choicest lions.
 

The Emperor and his mistress
     have just entered the regal box,
and the lions are ready behind the gates. 
     We pause for this brief message from...BLIP
 

Uhn, is it dat dis is ready, nicht vahr?
     Scuze, please, hallo, hallo, ah, yah.
Goot evening, ladies and lords.
     Herr Luther has been contained,
we are glad to report,
     and these protestants in Hamburg
just died a most fitting death,
     bleeding slowly for their upstart sins.
The Cardinal is dining tonight
     with his friend from...BLIP
 

I don give a shee-it
      if it's Jefferson Davis hisself;
I tole you we can't start
      no broadcast until this here slave
has been whupped. 
      Tell those women just to natter on
and eat up some my of the hickorynut sandwiches.
      That's why we have so many slaves anyways,
so's they can be like Marie Antoinette
      and have lots of silly things to do
that takes lots of time. 
     Now, you, boy, bend your butt
while I tell you agin that you are not supposed
      to be raising your head
in the presence of a white woman
      ever agin, you hear me?...BLIP
 

Now if you can take just one more
     lash out of this,
     here's the BIGGIE!--
Revolution is not really a spectator sport.

To Table of Contents
 
 



Mark this pimple.
Will it wart?
Black or red?
 

A bluebird screams,
caged just downstairs.

To Table of Contents
 
 


Repast 

Globules of gravy 
     sweat out 
of my 2-lb hunk of beef. 

Cattle nuzzle close in the fields. 

I imagine Jake the Butcher, 
      my neighbor in the next tier, 
as he hacked out this slab, 
      one more jab 
towards his release. 
      No salt peter needed, 
at least not this round. 

The onion grass spoils the cow's milk. 

Peas float in the red, 
     like balls of soft gangrene 
as I spoon them, 
      compulsively stir and re-stir, 
watching whether the pepper and butter 
      can brown the blood. 

Over the barn door at home 
a browned stripe hexes. 

It won't work. I rub the blood 
     with the hard bread, 
but the blood drools off. 
     I break the bread 
and sop it. 

Jamie had a hard-on 
as he swung 
from the barn rafters. 

No blood now. 
     I will not have blood! 
Not a bone was broken. 
     No bone will be broken. 

Crickets made a low din 
in the predawn.
 

My electrocutioner comes. 
      No bite left. 
Fullness is all. 

To Table of Contents
 
 


Pondered


Joseph, Joseph, rejoice!
This sheet tells me that last night
Jesus had his first wet dream!

To Table of Contents
 
 


Snakes and Snails and Puppy Dog Stool 


I pinched her tail.
No big deal.
What else's a tail good for,
especially if she wants to come here
to a men's bar?
 

I only whistled at the second one
--for Christ's sake!--
as ugly as she is up close
she oughta be glad
I even noticed her
ridin that bicycle at night
with her long hair atrailin.
A decent woman would be at home anyways,
tendin her husband or boyfriend,
or if she's too ugly to hook one,
at least having the courtesy or the sense
to sit alone sewing or readin a book.
 

I can't understand why you've locked me up,
Ms. Sheriff.
I ain't done nothin wrong.
I been like this all my life.
and most women be pleased.
Leastaways, they ain't said 
nothin to the contrary.

To Table of Contents
 
 

When Culture Revolts

(for Lu Qianfei)


I am a teacher on my bicycle coding
three thousand seven hundred years we led.
Far above my head their echo's floating.

Guards sent friend Lu to a farm, demoting
him to a peasant, just for what he said.
I am a teacher on my bicycle coding;

guards very like Xin, on his Great Wall gloating
when dissident scholars he buried not dead.
Far above my head their echo's floating.

Son Zhang thinks it "a matter of voting"!
--Western pollution he's foolishly read.
I am a teacher on my bicycle coding

fears ancient, deep, far more foreboding;
ours not the only age millions have bled:
far above my head their echo's floating.
Old wounds, fully festered, now exploding
revenge, from which we thought we'd fled:
I am a teacher on my bicycle coding.
Far above my head their echo's floating.

To Table of Contents
 
 



 
 

Closet Mantra

                          
                      If I
                             If I could
                  just get   
                             just
                      just
                             get all
           all those balls
                             balls and arms
             arms and legs
                             legs and crotch perfumes
                right here
                             here inside with me
             I might never
                             I might never have to tell
         never tell anyone
                             anyone at all
                I'm queer!
                             queer! queer! queer!

To Table of Contents
 
 


Letter to Hong Kong from my 8th-Grade Latin 


Teacher in Alabama, 36 Years Later 

Vowed I would not let another week pass
before I wrote.
Back from Charlotte for my last checkup for my eyes.
I had surgery there in November. 
Did not realize I could not see colors correctly
until the first cataract was gone.
I see fine now.




Don't know from whom you hear in town, 
but I'll try first to list those 
of your Mother's friend's who've also died:
 

Evelyn (57 yrs.), died Thursday after a
three-yr. valiant battle with cancer.
Ralph from cancer about a month ago.
 

He had a lovely second wife. Harriet,
    his daughter lost one of her sons in
    the Service before Christmas. She is
divorced. He dropped a bomb. They were
          loaded.
Mary Francis was found dead in bed last fall.
         She was Van's stepmother.
Fred and his wife were brutally murdered in March.
Mr. Mill is gone, Garvin gone.
Clarence is still here, in body only. Poor thing.
Virginia (Mrs. Fred Sr.) is gone. Her house,
     in front of Clarence's is vacant still.
Sunny Sr. is gone. Poor Tommy, his wife, is 
     senile, and so pathetic.
Dr. S. (Donald) has Parkinson's disease. They 
     don't talk about it, but you can surely tell it.
Marvin has cancer all over him. Pitiful.
Thomas is in very poor condition. Rose still
     hangs on.
Doris is gone, as is Catherine.
 

My garden is very pretty now, but so full of weeds.
I've spent today watering it. 
And they all have Baptist appetites.
I can't work in it like I used to
because of a bad back and foot and 80 years!
Get the fellows from the Fellowship House, alcoholics,
to help me and they are pretty good for the most part.
I enjoy it, and so do my friends.
 

What do you think of all the Methodist hullabaloo
    about deleting "Onward Christian Soldiers"
    from the hymnal?
And the Baptists quarreling 
    about what is and isn't true in the Bible?
Two august bodies spending precious time on such silly things.
 

By the way, 
      our minister resigned on Sunday.
For my part, I am delighted.
Wish we could get a little more mature fellow
     than we have had.
And in Charlotte, the minister of the largest Baptist Church
has left the Baptist and going to become an Episcopal priest!
 

Oh yes, Justin R. is in London with a liver transplant,
    doing very well. 
Poor Hazel is here on needles and pins.
She was over there for three months. Just returned, in fact.
 

What are you doing during the vacation?
I'd love to see you. I'm home for good, I think.
Can't take all this running around any more.
I'm surely glad I did all my gadding when I was younger.
Let me hear from you.

Fondly, 

Mrs. M.

To Table of Contents
 
 


One Fat Scared Sissy


Each globule of both my fat rolls
is a hate call, a cat whistle,
a child's spit in my face,
a student's glance averted,
an anonymous note threatening
to cut out my tongue.
 

When I knead my rolls, I feel
concentrated knots of hetero hate
and count them prayerfully like beads:
 

  • This one's for the time a bishop told the editor that my lover and I caused a tornado. I ate one chocolate cake and 25 Mars bars.
  • Twenty-two box of Girl Scout cookies here translated a dean's decision not to hire me.
  • Four hundred Cokes solidified here when my Vestry told me to "find some other place to worship."
  • This long seam jells my family's fear.
  • Boxes of bubblegum made this pink spot when I feared I'd scared my lover away....
I doze and dream that I rotund myself 
as large as the world itself, 
become Mother of all Indigestible Hate....
and waken to inglut again the hetero world.

To Table of Contents
 
 


In Old Milwaukee 


A queer once propositioned me
and, man, was I angry!
 

He was nice enough about it, sure,
and wanted to buy me lobster,
but speaking his desires right there
 

on the street!
What's the world coming to?
 

     He wasn't threatening, mind you.
Fact is, I could have beat him up
      in a moment, if I'd wanted.
 

He desired my body!
I mean, even chicks show less attention.
 

I do like lobster quite alot,
but still, I have to draw the line somewhere,
     don't I?
I'm not used to being asked 
      to put out for another guy,
though I admit he wanted to buy the lobster,
and he said I could just lie on my back.
 

I left him be, still standing by the bus stop
      when I moved into the porn shop,
but I never could keep him out of mind,
     even when I tried to watch 
the woman mounted by the billy goat.

To Table of Contents
 
 


Ice Cube Poem

 

(For My Guest Who Caught 
Her Brother Holding My Hand
Whilst Her Back Was Turned)
 

For 4000 years
your turned-up nose
licensed funeral pyres,
ropes, 
electric chairs,
&
guillotines.
 

Even now,
above Lo Wu
on ad hoc nights
your turned-up nose
squeezes snug into armpits 
to help squads aim 
when brothers stand too long
beyond a final dribble.
 

Tonight
I'm glad yours wrinkles
 

without a match, switch, or gun;
but I'll not push my luck 
to stick out my tongue
because 
 

60 years ago
Mother told me
that those who make faces
freeze.

 

To Table of Contents
 
 


Front Man


Plaaaaaaaaas
tic 
cups, 
sturdy reeeeeeeeeeeed 
plaaaaaaaaas
tic cups.
 

Get your sturdy red plaaaaaaaaas
tic cup
riiiiiiiight 
here, 
owwnly wuuuuuun 
fiiiiiiiiifty.
 

Plaaaaaaaaas
tic cups,
step right up 
and get yooooore 
sturdy red plaaaaaaaaas
tic cups, 
with a diiiiiime 
thrown iiiin 
for good meaaaaaaaaaaaaaaas
ure.
 

Plaaaaaaaaas
tic cups!
 

Biiiiiiiiig wuns, 
reeeeeeglar wuns, 
smaaaaaaall wuns,
get yooooore 
sturdy red plaaaaaaaas
tic cup 
right here, 
owwnly wuuuuuun 
fiiiiiiiiifty.
 

Dooooooooon't 
be cauwwwwght 
withouwwwwwwt 
 

wuuuuuun.
 

Raaaaaaaaaaaaat
tle it,
raaaaaaaaaaaaat
tle it,
let them
heeeeeeeeeear
sooooooomewuuuuuun 
ellllllllse 
has giiiiiiiven. 
Shaaaaaaaaaaaaake 
that dime, 
shaaaaaaaaaaaaake 
that dime, 
when you siiiiiiiiiiit 
in the cooooooooold. 
Plaaaaaaaaas 
tic 
cups. 
Sturdy 
reeeeeeeeeeeed 
plaaaaaaaaas 
tic cups. 
Get yoooooore 
sturdy red 
plaaaaaaaaas 
tic cup 
riiiiiiiight 
here, 
owwnly wuuuuuun 
fiiiiiiiiifty. 
Wiiiiiinter 
is 
cooooooooooming. 
Doooooon't 
be 
cauuuuuuuuuuuuuught 
without ooooooooooone. 
Maaaaaaake it 
reeeeeeeeeeed. 
Maaaaaaake it 
reeeeeeeeeeed, 
sooooow that theeeeeeeeeey 
will seeeeeeeeeeee 
it. 
Plaaaaaaaaas 
tic 
cups. 
Stuuuuuuurdy 
reeeeeeeeeed 
plaaaaaaaaas 
tic cups. 
get yooooore 
sturdy red 
plaaaaaaaaas 
tic cup 
riiiiiiiight 
here, 
only wuuuuuun 
fifty. 

To Table of Contents
 
 


Nattering

It happened without warning.

One day I just started saying out loud
all the stuff that swarmed inside me.
 

At first I looked at a person next to me,
and when she turned away,
I looked at the one next to her,
and when he turned away
I looked at the one next to....

But one morning,
in a flash of inspiration,
I realized I did not need to look at anyone,
nor even to wear my funny hat,
that people listened more closely
if I did not scare them,
did not single them out,
but talked just to the air
like any other self-respecting crazy or poet.

I quit staring strangers straight in the eyes
as if each was a long-lost relation
washed up on shore to hear the story
that I alone have escaped to tell.

And it worked. No matter what they
thought they thought about me,
clearly they started listening
to everything I said.

And as I named the evils of these times,
I noticed that people five and six rows away,
or people way the hell to the other end of a line,
would nod, or mutter "Yes, sister."
Then someone else would say, "Ain't it so."

Occasionally I would peek
at those who spoke, and nary a one
actually looked in my direction.

But they listened, and many responded.
A couple of times fellow travelers
put up such an echo that others
muttered as they left,
"Bunch of loonies taking over the world"

These too spoke to nobody in particular.

To Table of Contents
 
 

A Shaking Spear


My lover's buns are nothing like a God's.
Plate glass is far more rippled than his chest.
His six-inch fuse becomes his only rod.
With no cologne but rankest funk he's blessed.

I have seen glistening men, hirsute or smooth,
but no alluring luster's in his face.
And I've known even yokels less uncouth
clutching their men in graceless long embrace.

I like to hear my lover's tuneful shower,
but any glories there are merely myths,
for though his songs indeed my spunk empower,
the truth is that he all too often lithps.

And yet I swear my man's to me more real
than hunky clones who, unrehearsed, can't feel.

To Table of Contents
 
 


Charmed 


"Come forth!" I commanded,
my head bent forward
towards the snowbank
of our January lawn.
 

I shook my finger
to repeat the charm:
"Come forth!"
 

Still the daffodil resisted,
even though my neighbors
tout me as their real, live fairy.

To Table of Contents
 
 


Found in a Summer Parade


I Love Mens!

To Table of Contents
 
 

The Agony and the Ecstasy

Once bundled faggots burned till witches died.
"Why won't you let me kiss you?" Jim asked Bill.
On moonbeams fairies cross the countryside.

Invisibility is genocide,
bloodless and quiet, but as surely shrill.
Once bundled faggots burned till witches died.

No more must homoflesh be mortified.
Each with her own her needs may now fulfill.
On moonbeams fairies cross the countryside.

Phallae and mind through soul both coincide:
Erotophobes their fullness spill.
Once bundled faggots burned till witches died.

Wet tongue against wet tongue with love applied
the very thought of spirit does instill.
On moonbeams fairies cross the countryside.

Nears a love that never has been tried:
ours is the chance to sexualize goodwill.
Once bundled faggots burned till witches died.
On moonbeams fairies cross the countryside.

To Table of Contents
 
 


Roistering


Diamonokus, who's your friend.
   Watch that candle!
The oarsman sighs as Charon shores Caesar.
 

Watch that candle! 
    Abraham Lincoln screws at midnight.
Watch that candle!
    And it's cold in the Springfield pantry.
Watch that candle!
    Helen's brow in the District of Columbia.
Watch that candle!
    Go away, Macbeth: be the patron of crows again.
Watch that candle!
    Light it with your rod, Othello,
Desdemona's cold.
    Baby, drum it, flickers, have a cup of tea
    leaves to sprinkle spring blossom in your hair.
Watch that candle!
    Kitty, stalk that volcano!
We belong here when we dare to feel like it.

To Table of Contents
 
 

Sour Grapes for Quean Lutibelle


Don't think
I want to be
a queen
the kind
Lady Di
wants to be,

wouldn't want
every bloke
licking the back
of my picture,

I don't jiggle
next to just
anyone's
balls.
 

I prefer
to choose
those that
lick,
scratch
or fondle
me.

To Table of Contents
 
 


We Who Nudge Close


The moon you see, like mine,
is liquid, and we two are 
pouring where we will.
How nice that it, the moon,
does not discriminate 
whom it with silver will dilate,
nor worry what newness
it will be. So might we.
 

Rub the tip of your tongue
across your gums,
squeeze the jeans of boys,
run orange sun
into a small attic corner,
say where you are,
screw a star.
 

Still all others run away
no more nor less than they do
from flowers. 
Freedom's only ours
when we have it,
not something they or it can give:
ours to live through funnels 
of liquid moss at Balloon Place.
 

Watch your face
dry shiny sweat into slick leather smiles.
 

Why? Who cares? 
 

We who nudge close always care,
and why should each waste time
to begrudge the other a term?
It is nothing to The Worm.

To Table of Contents
 
 


Metamorphosis

When I learned 
he fantasizes me 
as O. J. Simpson, 
I grew jealous 
until I discovered 
the Juice's magic 
whereby my 
50-year-old 
jellied presence 
now hustles more than pigskin 
or Rent-a-Car. 

To Table of Contents
 
 



 
M     M          Meek          K  K
M     M       Peek,  peek      K  K
M M M M          Seek.         K K
M  M  M  E                 E   K
M     M       Only meek,       K K
M     M        Not weak        K  K 
M     M        Peek,peek.      K   K
               Only meek
              Not a freak
               Streak!           
                Speak!
                Seek!
                Meek!
         INHERIT THE  EARTH!
               

To Table of Contents
 
 


View from One Porn Booth


I wonder whether 
God drew the blinds
and turned off the lights
when he made the penis.
 

Did he use blue light 
and pump quarters
for more flesh?
Or was he in a bright lab
with beakers of sample juices?

In what holes
did he try it out for fit and feel?

Was he excited,
or just pleased to find one space
for pee and sperm to share?

To Table of Contents
 
 


The Gospel Truth 


Well, you remember how at Christmas 
last year the two fairies down our street 
wrote "Bah, Humbug!" on their front door, 
using rhinestones in Olde English script 
(You know how they are!)? 
Well, I just learned that last week 
the one who teaches art at the college 
told a group of students at a Christmas party 
that Jesus was born 
without benefit of heterosexuality 
and less than nine months 
after Mary and Joseph were married! 
There really ought to be a law 
against such scandal! 
If we don't stop them soon, 
they'll probably claim 
Jesus loves them! 

To Table of Contents
 
 


Welfare Diet


The rich taste good with pepper and salt.
Don't waste thyme, rosemary, or sage;
cayenne's enough. It's not their fault
they're bland or fat. It's the age.
 

Stay their hearts with Louis Vuitton
strips; baste them with buttered blood.
Roast and serve. Soften in brine
their necks, then boil. Next flood
 

with garlic these briskets. Press 
cloves with salvaged dentures.
Kabob their balls with mushrooms.
Eschew more exotic adventures.
 

The rich taste good with pepper and salt.
Don't waste thyme, rosemary, or sage;
 

cayenne's enough. It's not their fault
they're bland or fat. It's the age.

To Table of Contents
 
 


Overheard at Grace Cathedral


A girl who plans to make it here
soon has to learn to spot them.
I mean, you go to a cocktail sip,
a nice man gets you a drink,
compliments you for your taste in clothes,
talks to you as to an equal,
even respects your mind,
invites you out to lunch....
Be prepared, honey.

To Table of Contents
 
 


Death


Death
wore
a white halter
when I sat for tea.
 

I folded the paper
and started to rise.
 

"Not necessary,"
she said.
 

She
squatted
to wipe
mud from her ankle.
 

Through the glass table
her navel, an `outy,'
looked very old.
 

Her shame hair
 

matted close.
 

She snored.
 

I
could
not
swallow,
 

even before
I whiffed
the fumes.

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Ding, Dong

 


W. G. Bell, 
in a tiresomely 
 

sensational book, 
 

The Great Plague, 
 

noted that the clapper 
 

fell out of the bell at Westminster 
near the turning point of two bubonic plagues. 
People received the second instance as a good 
 

omen. 
 


have 
real faith in
science, honey. 
 

Let's all swing 
 

from that grand 
old clapper till 
it comes tumblng down 
 

again.

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Chen Yuk Che,

 

Widow of Leung Bing Ming 

and Mother 

of the Late Leung Sai Ham,
 

Requests

the Honor of Your Contribution

at Her Investiture

as a Bag Lady,
 

on the Lawn 

of St. John's Cathedral

Garden Road, Central 
 

just after the Christmas Mass.
 

Sportswear acceptable.
 

R.S.V.P. optional.

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Phases of Vanishing

Monday


Tom sported a triangle 
for a right eye. 
It went straight through.
I saw the moon 
chase a cloud there.
 

"Why do you stare? 
Nothing special bout that.
Picasso done it all the time."
 
 

Tuesday 


Tom turned his nose into a lighter.
 

"Just when they outlawed smoking!
Yet and still, some dudes 
down the alleys
be asking for a light, 
and I flick my Bic.
 

"Why do you stare? 
Nothing special bout that.
Picasso done it all the time."
 
 

Wednesday 


Tom's navel grew a red ruby.
We ate Sichuen chicken to celebrate.
 
 

Thursday 


Tom coughed a twister. 
I was not awake when it started 
but saw it rip the tv to shreds
as Tom calmly held his chest.
 
 

Friday 


We did not light the candles.
Tom gave me an ear. 
It tasted like green olives
 
 

Saturday


Tom's leg had turned to dough.
The bakers came.
 
 

Sunday


I heard him, high up in the ceiling,
when the organist and choir hushed
for their own communion.
 
 

Monday


Tom is gone.
Why do you stare? 
Nothing special bout that.
Picasso done it all the time.

To Table of Contents

Foreword to an Earlier, Unpublished Version of this Manuscript

by Robert Peters

I've always feared violence. I confess: I never had a physical fight with anyone in my life, other than in play. Early in childhood I sensed survival ways to keep the bullies from attacking me--I was usually smarter than they were, so I would put my mind to work and ask them for some advice, some scrap of butch-information: how often did they change the oil in their car? Where were they going deer-hunting this season? Where do the muskellenge strike best? Should I buy a fly- rod or a casting-rod for bass fishing? The ploys were endless--and they seemed to work. In a perplexing way, I assumed that if I were to fight and lose, my love for boys would somehow be revealed, subjecting me to vicious hetero-torments, torments I couldn't survive. I wouldn't take the risk.

I don't profess to understand my timidities, or anyone else's. The roots seem so various--and it is facile to indict one's gayness for the deficiency. Needing the world's generally good opinion is as good a guess as any for a primary cause. While I have not concealed my gayness, I have not touted it. And, like so many gay professionals I know, I too feel that my performance as a professor, writer, and critic must be far more impeccable than if I were straight. Isn't this generally how the persecuted or despised minority in any culture is apt to behave, that is, if they haven't completely given up? I've assumed that going quietly about my professional and personal lives is in itself a political act: it's hard for the world to quarrel with excellence, however grudging that world may be of a homosexual's right to it. Recent events convince me that passive action is not enough: the threat of vicious bigots is upon us again.

Which brings me to Louie Crew. I first met this remarkable man in January 1974 when he arranged for me to read my poetry at Fort Valley State College where he taught at the time. He appeared on his red Honda, wearing a leopard-skin cape he himself had made, his red beard flaming. He had ridden through a Georgia red-neck town, situated well into the red-clay hinterlands, as he had ridden back and forth to his largely black classes for several months. Word was beginning to spread that not only was he gay--he told his students that he was--but that he had a black lover. I feared for his safety, knowing he was not a suicide-prone man, and expected eventually that some honky rifle would pick him off as he sped in style about town. Thank God, he survived there for six years, and the two of them survived in rural Wisconsin, Hong Kong, China, [and in rural South Carolina and now 30 years later, in New Jersey].

I don't know when Crew decided to stop living lies, when he first asserted his right as a gay man to breathe the world's air freely. Certainly, the last ten years or so have demanded all of his courage: devoutly Christian, he has been harassed by his own church, the Episcopal Church, with veiled threats of excommunication both in Georgia and in Wisconsin. He has fought his ground with humor, irony, persuasiveness, and tenacity, refusing to accept Christian or any other persecution. He, with his lover, founded Integrity, first a journal and then a multipurpose national organization with local chapters around the country, for lesbians and gay Episcopalians and their friends. He regularly visits bishops and priests hoping to enlighten them about gay love. Once in Georgia the priest of his own parish had to be forced by his ecclesiastic superiors, against his will, to administer the wafer and the wine.

Within the academic community, Crew has led in organizing panels on gays and delivering papers. He has edited issues of College English and Margins devoted to gay culture. And, throughout, he has managed to write his own poetry. One collection, Sunspots, was published by the Lotus Press, Detroit, in 1976, another, From Quean Lutibelle's Pew was published by Dragon Disks in 1990. This new collection continues the celebrations of his gayness so vividly launched in Sunspots.

Crew's new poems are vigorous gay-assertions. They celebrate gay love, sometimes outrageously, always movingly. They are militantly Christian: he relishes rubbing the noses of gay-hating Christians in his own religiosity, a religion of Jesus rather than of organized Christianity. On all levels, Christ loved, and he despised bigots.

Louie Crew emerges as impressively solid: he's a red-bearded bear of a man, standing powerful and immovable. His way of life commands respect. I've read no gay poetry so positive, outrageous, non-selfpitying or non-apologetic. Reading Crew is indeed a tonic.

I wrote earlier of my own timidities and about the current climate of threat and oppression. Sending checks to Gay Task Forces is a silent, albeit essential, act. But more, I fear, will be required of us. If we are challenged, we must struggle. What tolerance we have gained must not be allowed to seep away, or be wrenched from us.

Reading Louie Crew's poetry inspirits me: those of us who have been timid too long must acquire some of his courage. His poetry shows us how.

Huntington Beach, California, 1988

To Table of Contents

Acknowledgements of Previous Publishers

I express my gratitude to those who have previously published most items in this collection.

Agony and the Ecstasy

Breathing Calls I've Received Candor Charmed Chen Yuk Che Closet Mantra Death Ding Dong Found in a Summer Parade Gospel Truth Honkey Down Home Ice Cube Poem In Old Milwaukee Lash Through History Letter to Hong Kong from my 8th-Grade Latin Teacher in Alabama, 36 Years Later Mark This Pimple Meek Metamorphosis Naked Truth Nattering One Fat Scared Sissy Overheard at Grace Cathedral Phases of Vanishing Pollution Pondered Repast Roistering Shaking Spear Shibboleth Snakes and Snails and Puppy Dog Stool Sour Grapes for Quean Lutibelle Sunday Brunch View from One Porn Booth We Who Nudge Close Welfare Diet When Culture Revolts To Table of Contents
 

Li Min Hua is one of several pennames for Louie Crew.


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