Courtesy Twin Cities Pride

The longest-running reading series of its kind in the country, Queer Voices has created a safe space for LGBTQIA+ writers and audiences to explore the day-to-day material of life without internal or external censorship. Featuring over 300 readers who have brought together more than 3,500 community members using literature and free expression as a unifying tool, Queer Voices has highlighted an array of diverse voices and superb talent the Twin Cities have to offer.

The poems featured here come from writers who have participated in the series over the years. If you like what you see, be sure to look for our upcoming anthology to be published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press in Spring 2019. It will feature many more voices from the series. Enjoy!

– John Medeiros, Curator, Queer Voices Reading Series

 

The Thing to Fight For

By Michael Kiesow Moore

What was it like
to be one of the
flaming ones?
To live in those
days when
kissing a man
on the street
could get you
killed. Did they
really only see
straight people
on the TV and
magazine ads?
How exciting it
must be to march
with banners flying,
by thousands and
more, demanding
what everyone
thinks, now, is
so common.
If they knew in
olden days what
all their efforts
would lead to,
would they have
fought at all?
We were
not ordinary.
That was the
thing to fight for.

 

OUTING

By Ann Tweedy

it has become almost religious: two or three times
each week, i drive an hour to see women pretend
they are men. their breasts have been wound
and flattened, their hair cut short, they are
equipped with penises of duct tape and sock.
in cowboy hats and jeans, white shirts and ties,
they lip sync in an alphabet only the body can interpret

and what of the body, who for thirty years staked
her allegiance in one nation, while admitting to break
its lesser edicts about sex and love,
who and how many? imagine that self-proclaimed outlaw
dreaming a life of prescribed normalcy
i see myself now, for six months caught between planets:
loving a man i mean to spend my days with and a woman
who dances on-stage for anyone who can afford
cover. her repertoire of male voices, from pop
to country, thrills because of an underlying forgery

do you think i could write myself back into
the hewn dimensions of any single space? home is the structure
you build when nowhere else will have you

 

A Single Man

By James Cihlar

You have to wait it out.
Step away from the table and think.
Afterthoughts are not revisions,
just the unfolding of a face.
George thinks the gym is the great equalizer.
Television actors, professors,
and twelve-year-olds
exercise together. The oasis
between bungalows
and freeways, co-eds in Capri’s
sloppy shirts, and teased up hair,
and hills with their tops cut off.
He’s wrong.
After the death of the partner
that no one acknowledged,
Is he complicit in his isolation?
Why ask, when the details
of a day are so absorbing.

 

On visiting Schoolcraft Park

for black folk in nature
By Lisa Marie Brimmer

now we know how the headwaters look:

maddie dressed in a button down
and nothing but knickers

laughing laughing and springing
forward, you realize. they can never look

another way. can never eke out
the difference in noise between a wild fox

and the rustle a stail hammock makes against
the bark of a living tree (a living god) a cold one

in noël’s hand. the way the singing sometimes
the song of what you thought was elk. the elder

you thought was song, each and every time the moon
was caught up in its wide mouth, its violent

wrinkle in time. we didn’t just bring plates to the
headwaters expecting to eat; we didn’t just

bring a hungry mouth expecting to talk too much.
we couldn’t hope before this would be any better.

we couldn’t find our hands from our hands at the ends
of our wrists. Winona reminded us of the pleasure in hope.

things we should know, we don’t. we smiled and she smiled
and her radiant, tawny skin bespoke the future

like lake water every day all year round. even sipping the way
she walked. conduits flush with fire flickering eyelashes of almost

bluelight. Something that after the youth just spilled, plenty, and upward
and singing with constant heat with constant pony tail heat.

constant revelation of the sun between us and her yellow sliding drawers
her godself some citrine candle, completely proud and round and warm.

this is the way it could be. finding halves of ourselves in
sometimes hanging, sometimes wafting letters. this chest heavy night keeper

came back once or twice. oh, how johnnay and adja would laugh. what if I told
you this was a man made lake he said laughing again. and in quiet

we are fire – hymn quiet and aware of each other. what if I told you
this was a man made fire. That we could have the sun.

 

ACHILLES

By Raymond Luczak

Many legends surround Achilles,
the handsomest hero in the Trojan War.
Some say that as a baby he was dipped upside down
in the River Styx to make him immortal.
But not all of him was dipped.
His mother had covered only his heel.
A single arrow there slayed him instantly.
Millennia later, you sit on my sofa,
Your toes wriggling in a basin of hot water
aswirl with Epsom salt. I caress your sore feet.
May my fingertips pressure forth shots
of pleasure straight up into your spinal column,
spiraling fireworks into the planetarium
of your brain. May you never die.

 

Letter to My Younger Self

By Kelly Frankenberg

Dear Younger self,

You have no idea was real pain is, do you?
You have never had your young heart broken.
You haven’t yet shed a tear over a lover.
You haven’t yet suffered the loss of a parent.
I hope you appreciate your blissful life
Without the struggles of adulthood.
I envy you and your inexperience.
Your biggest worries barely compare to my small ones.
You gaze out the window and dream of possibilities,
There are so many.
You could not possibly foresee the adventures and hardships to come.
You live in a world of not knowing-
And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Sincerely,
Your older self

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