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Parting Glances: Sing Out! Gay Poetry Month

Who among us reads, scans, rhymes — knows by heart — poetry these days? Who among the "oh, so busy we" can name one poet for L, for G, for B, for Transgender T? Can U? Dare we? Ask I.
Happenstance! There's many more poets than just a few. Proud, to be sure. And dedicated rainbow readers who — pause — meld cerebellum reason to carefree, thoughtful rhyme.
There's Emily Dickinson. (Don't knock her hymnal song-like verse). Dressed in homespun white. Recluse. Unmarried. Writing solitary in her Belle of Amherst sunny room. Six poems published in her sequestered time; 1,775, yet back then awaiting light of day. (Five I know by heart.)
Lines that stun eternally. Lines that echo well beyond a sheltered woman's tenuous, boldly brave, but hopeful reach. "The sun arose a ribbon at a time." "I taste a liquor never brewed from tankards scooped in pearl." "The soul selects her own society, then shuts the door. On that divine majority obtrude no more."
Encore for Emily! Bravo! "Rowing in Eden/ Ah, the sea/ Might I but moor this night in thee." So said, what gender speaks? Top? Bottom? Femme? A hint of 19th century, manly maiden strong? Wishful thinking, circa 1863?
Wrote, too, Ms. Emily D: "Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul. And sings the tune without the words and never stops at all." (Never? Well, hardly ever. Perhaps hardly never.) "I measure every grief I meet."
Moving on to closer times. Edna St. Vincent Millay: "I'm burning my candle at both ends/ It will not last the night/ But, ah, my foes/ And, oh, my friends/ It gives a lovely light." Sophisticated. Bisexual beauty Edna. Introspective she. Often jocund (as in May), her sonnets rivered deep. I memorized this. (For my first of many losses. All but one these days forgotten.) Here so…
"Time does not bring relief/ All you have lied/ Who told me time would ease me of my pain/ I miss him in the weeping of the rain/ I want him in the shrinking of the tide… Last year's leaves are smoke in every lane…"
Gay poets also mark a few: Oscar Wilde ("Ballad of the Reading Gaol"). Constantine P. Cavafy (homeland Greece; need one mention Sappho in passing here?). Exiled to America, British poet Auden, W. H. (One quite naughty BJ poem came to light when his self-styled "diddling days were done.")
Another Brit, A. E. Housman. This: "When I was young and twenty/ I heard a wise man say/ Give crowns and pounds and guineas/ But not your love away." (Too late, we learn at 22. Or, for some, at just slightly over-the-hill-top 39. 50. 61.) "Oh, tis true, tis true."
And America's beloved Civil War Walt Whitman. His "Leaves of Grass," woven through with subtle homoerotic heart yearnings, hints of poetic angst. Beauty in blank verse. "I sing the body electric." "Stranger, I take you by the hand." And an ever-lasting tribute to Abraham Lincoln: "When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd."
Walt's vision touches heart, to hand, to head with Allen Ginsberg's "Howl." Drumming to our modern tempo times. A Beat Generation big bender, dude! And Audre Lorde, black warrior poet. Sharpening cancer honed her verse. Now treasure, these, proud poets more: LAMBDA awardee Jewelle Gomez; Federico Lorca (gay, murdered by fascists, 1936); Adrienne Rich ("Sister Wisdom," sentinel she).
One closing, haunting, rainbow line to quote. Poet County Cullen: "Yet do I marvel at this curious thing,/ For God to make a poet black and bid him sing!"

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