Number 172 Winter 2017 $11.95
Issue 173 / Spring 2018
Submission Deadline: January 21, 2018 www.rfdmag.org/upload
So like anyone else these days, we’d rather hear from you through your art, your poetry, your prose, rather than see some Facebook post, an Instagram pic. But we’re hoping you’ll open up and tell us about your first time… Not just sexually, but any transition from one level
of experience to the next. We’re looking for ways to connect to our stories and experiences. So tell us about a first love, your first garden, a trip away from home, your first Pride or protest, your kinky side or when you fell for Broadway. Tell us about your first spiritual awakening, talk to us when you
found a new friend, tell us all about that house project or how you got into being an artist. As always please feel free to share this call with others who may be interested in submitting something. RFD exists to tell our queer stories, so dig deep and share!
Issue 174 / Summer 2018
Rising Fearless Duplicity Submission Deadline: April 21, 2018
AMUSE US—A MUSE US Vol 44 No 2 www.rfdmag.org/upload
#172 Winter 2017
Between the Lines As we journey into the center, we find we must often leave things behind, carry things forward and allow for change. In this issue we asked our readers to delve into their experiences with how we engage inclusivity, allowing for change and facing the challenges of being in today’s world of varying ideas all needing to matter equally yet knowing we’re also overcome with information, opinion and little in the way of actual dialogue and understanding. We also include several pieces of fiction and poetry as well as a fun play on gender. We’re also pleased to include several reviews and interviews about recent short stories by Ian Young and poetry by Gavin Dillard as well as an introduction to the work of Jose Munoz, a queer theorist, whose work is worth exploring. RFD is plodding forward with plans for a slow winter here in New England, exploring simple things like reorganizing our back issue storage, working on improvements to our website and getting ideas from you our readers about upcoming themes worth exploring. So please do be in touch with your ideas for upcoming themes. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
look inward, see where there is room We’re asking our readers to tell us to laugh, think more deeply, find the about their muses, what amuses you, Enjoy the issue and thanks as ever for your interest in and supspirit in music, and let us learn about speak to the things musing in your of RFD. ourselves rather than things outside of heads. Tell us a port story. ourselves. We’re looking for Braving things the which will elements for faggotry here in the Upper Valley! Please send us your essays, poems, amuse but also make us muse on our songs, ruminations, artworks, photos, lives together. —the RFD Collective dance steps, recipes, reviews, fashions, We’ve spent a great deal of the last hair styles, animals, nature spots, toys, year resisting things often greater than subject-subjects...amuse us. ourselves but here we’re asking to
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Submission Deadlines Spring–January 21, 2018 Summer–April 21, 2018 See inside covers for themes and specifics.
For advertising, subscriptions, back issues and other information visit www.rfdmag.org RFD is a reader-written journal for gay people which focuses on country living and encourages alternative lifestyles. We foster community building and networking, explore the diverse expressions of our sexuality, care for the environment, Radical Faerie consciousness, and nature-centered spirituality, and share experiences of our lives. RFD is produced by volunteers. We welcome your participation. The business and general production are coordinated by a collective. Features and entire issues are prepared by different groups in various places. RFD (ISSN# 0149-709X) is published quarterly for $25 a year by RFD Press, P.O. Box 302, Hadley MA 01035-0302. Postmaster: Send address changes to RFD, P.O. Box 302, Hadley MA
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01035-0302. Non-profit tax exempt #62-1723644, a function of RFD Press with office of registration at 231 Ten Penny Rd., Woodbury, TN 37190. RFD Cover Price: $9.95. A regular subscription is the least expensive way to receive it four times a year. First class mailed issues will be forwarded. Others will not. Send address changes to email@example.com or to our Hadley, MA address. Copyright © RFD Press. The records required by Title 18 U.S.D. Section 2257 and associated with respect to this magazine (and all graphic material associated therewith on which this label appears) are kept by the custodian of records at the following location: RFD Press, 85 N Main St, Ste 200, White River Junction, VT 05001.
On the Covers
Front: Cradle My Heavy Heart, Painting by Rene Capone Back: Man’s Magazine,December 1958, edit
Managing Editor: Bambi Gauthier Art Director: Matt Bucy
Artist Contributors Rene Capone. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cover, 5,17 Jan Ziegler. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6,13,40 Marc DeBauch. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24, 32 William Kimber. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Matt Bucy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Alan Light. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
CONTENTS Announcements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 An Idea for a New Narrative. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tom Seidner. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 The Radical Drag of My Soul. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . David Townsend . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Nitpicking as a Spiritual Practice. . . . . . . . . . . Graphite. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Adaptation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sunflower . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 examination . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . luke kurtis. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Marginalization. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . J. James Keels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 The Charity Shop. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Stuart Collinson. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Fifteen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Samuel E. Cole. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 An Anxious Union. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . William Estep. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 An Interview with Ian Young . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Franklin Abbott. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Graybeard Abbey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jim Wise. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 From Graybeard Abbey. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gavin Geoffrey Dillard. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Cruising Utopia. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Emanuel Rubero. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 nahar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . David Cummer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 What is, Where is, Sex? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . James McColley Eilers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 Lusting for Eternity. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lucy May. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Lunacy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Don Perryman. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 How Do I Smell You? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Flaming Salamander. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Two Poems. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jason Roush. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 Two Poems. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Qweaver. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 Even Before You Touch. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Simon Perchik . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 Fantasy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Xavier Jonson. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
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ANNOUNCEMENTS Gatherings Faerie Beacon Gathering, Hévíz, Hungary, Dec 25, 2017 – Jan 1, 2018 Breitenbush Winter Gathering, Detroit, OR, Feb 15-19, 2018 Asian Faerie Gathering, Koh Yao Yai, Thailand, Jan 25 – Feb, 2018 For More Information see our calendar online or visit our friends at www.radfae.org
A Year In Faerie Space
My name is Fury and I am a brand new faerie. I have only been to one gathering but the experience was life changing and I have decided to share my story via (more or less) weekly Vimeo videos—as I travel around the world attending as many Gatherings and Sanctuaries as I can. There will almost certainly be missteps, however I believe the discourse that will arise in such a circumstance will be just as important as any other part of the project. I hope the project can serve as a document of my personal growth as well as give a glimpse of where faerie communities are at in 2018. At the Kiwi gathering in Takaka there was a lot of talk about the lack of interconnectivity between faerie communities around the world. I personally believe it would be of interest to document, not only my personal journey, but the wider things happening in our communities in countries all over the globe. I think opening our communities up to each other will be invaluable in the knowledge gained and make every community involved stronger. I am not interested in telling anyone else’s story 4
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and only if someone approaches me and asks to be part of a video will they be part of the project. I will always gain consent on any use of my camera (even if I’m just recording myself.) I believe we all have valuable contributions to make and it’s impossible to tell how one faerie’s story might touch another on the other side of the planet who may never get the chance to meet them in person. I am especially interested in sharing the stories and daily going ons of the smallest, newest or geographically secluded communities. The videos will be viewable through a private, unlisted Vimeo link that will also be password protected. I have confidence in the privacy of this method & plan to demonstrate that from the start by never being anything but completely honest in how I present myself to you—warts, mental illness, drug addiction, hustling, previous stretches of unemployment and homelessness included. (I don’t actually have warts!) This project will constantly evolve—and already has—from the invaluable input of passionate faeries worldwide, and that is what will make it a truly unique & important document. I will do my absolute best to incorporate every invitation and contribution into the initial year timeframe (although the project is actually a lot more loose & open ended). I believe the inclusion of the word “Year” in the title clues people into my vision for the project quickly but I would be happy to keep it alive as long as people are gaining from it. Also as wonderful and creatively liberating forgetting time constraints can be—I believe that some structure is important, especially with such an ambitious project. To have a timeframe as a goal (at least initially) will make the whole thing come together. I don’t think this is particularly contra to faerie spirit as this edition (and probably every previous edition) of RFD had a submission deadline—without it it wouldn’t have been completed & you wouldn’t be enjoying it now! I am sure I will find many spaces in which I feel content along the way and there will always be a temptation to stay where I feel comfortable and the project is supported—but that actually isn’t what I’m setting out to achieve. I will endeavour to get out, see and share as much as I can. I am also prepared for there to be points in the
project that I don’t feel supported by every faerie in every community—we are so diverse. There’s also the possibility I may not feel overly welcome everywhere I go but I don’t plan to shy away or avoid these experiences but rather seek to understand them. There will be no online presence of this project— No Facebook / Instagram etc. It has always been— and will continue to be—not for profit and will be made for faeries, by faeries & fully faerie funded (mostly by me!). If you believe in my vision for the project—maybe you have been following it already & believe it is worthwhile and would like to ensure it’s continuation. I will be gratefully accepting financial contribution to help with the costs of travel. If any contributions are left after the project’s natural conclusion I will re-donate to faerie funds of communities I’ve visited around the world. Please don’t hesitate to contact me directly
“Zebra Boy Seduction” by Rene Capone
with any invitations, contributions, questions or to subscribe to the project (to view it!): firstname.lastname@example.org. I am sitting in a New Zealand airport and they are calling me to board my plane to Australia (where I am moving to start the project) but before I go I would like to ask you to do one thing for me. Think about how magical it is when a faerie opens up and shares, be that at a gathering—sanctuary—heart circle—coffee meet up or just with you one on one. Think about the knowledge and strength that is passed on—from them to you—every time this happens. Now imagine this on a global scale where we can all reach out and touch each other at this same level of intimacy no matter how remote your global position or small your tribe—that is what this project is—I know we will make it fucking magical! —Fury xoxo
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“Big J” by Jan Ziegler
An Idea for a New Narrative by Tom Seidner
e live in a time when division and destruction are taken for granted. Globalization has become a curse word. People on the left are more suspicious of others championing a more equitable society than they are of the elitists. People on the right use language of victimization while arguing that if you give more power and influence to those who already have it, life will improve for everyone. Everyone berates dishonesty while routinely resorting to it in government, business, and personal relationships. Corruption, bureaucracy, and unnecessary complication seem to complicate every aspect of our lives. Increased communication means that we are exposed to stories of war, environmental devastation, poverty, hunger, stupidity and cruelty at a speed that renders us incapable of solutions or even an empathetic reaction. If we are to mend the world, it will require all of our talents and varying perspectives. But those very perspectives keep us from agreeing on the most basic remedies. So perhaps we need to concentrate on ways of establishing trust and demonstrating a willingness to compromise in order to enlist as many allies as possible. Our desire for solutions may have to take a second place to our need for consensus. Let me state outright that we have only the crudest of methods for attaining this at this time. Our technological expertise has far outstripped our social skills. The human tendency to identify with some people and not with others is both the source of much of our joy in life and the cause of our most horrendous actions. If the eventual goal is to be a species capable of viewing global problems and operating in largely autonomous units to address them for the good of all, the distance from where we are now to there seems infinite. Yet there are some aspects of human history, which should encourage us. While we still operate with a largely tribal outlook, the one constant has been that our tribes have grown larger. As the size of our communities, villages, cities and nations has grown, so has our recognition that people who were once demeaned or excluded should be included. While this process tends to be inconsistent and uneven, I believe it is one that we should work consciously to encourage. I also believe we need to anticipate the discomfort, delays and misunderstandings that will arise.
We have goals in life that seem completely incompatible. We value an ideal of equality. At the same time we value demonstrations of excellence and competence. We donâ€™t want people judged on the basis of a group they are associated with. At the same time we donâ€™t want the heritage and culture of these groups to be obliterated. We debate our need for freedom and our need for responsibility. We tend to act as if our side is right and the other side is wrong and view it as a victory if we make our point forcefully enough to drown the other side out. Rather than being stymied by these inconsistencies, we can look to the ways our bodies work and natural systems operate. A useful model could be a process of dynamic equilibrium that allows us to achieve a balance that will change over time in response to circumstances and needs. This balance is not one of the false equivalency we often hear in our debates. It is not as if our bodies need to have the same amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide. We would never move if muscle pairs contracted and extended to exactly the same extent. It is more a notion that health is achieved by an ever-changing proportion of opposing forces. Differences in power and the need to remedy them always need to be recognized in any dialogue. But we have to create safe spaces for people of different backgrounds to hear each other without the presumption that one side has 100% of the truth. Straight people need to be heard by gay people as well as be heard by them. People living in poverty and people with excess wealth need to be able to converse without either side demeaning the other. Young and old and those in between need to be able to exchange perspectives. Women, men and those who find those definitions unnecessarily confining need to be able to learn from each other. People of different skin colors and adherents of various philosophies and religions need to have safe spaces in which aspects of our common humanity can be discovered. This does not mean either an endorsement of the status quo or that all grievances need to be put aside. It simply means recognizing that none of us have all the answers and that everyone has something to offer. Operating in such an unfamiliar way will require an almost superhuman level of persistence and patience. There will be a turmoil of RFD 172 Winter 2017 7
emotion as we strive to eliminate injustice and simultaneously try to open communication with those responsible for it. There are many of you who are probably familiar with the Jungian concept of the Shadow. There are parts of ourselves that we are uncomfortable with and tend to see in other people rather than recognizing that they are devalued aspects of our own being. But unless we reincorporate these parts of ourselves and see the truths they embody, we remain limited and incomplete. The same dynamic exists in our species as a whole. We are mysteries even to ourselves. We look at others and see only their most blatant aspects. We don’t know what gifts will grow from their awkwardness. We don’t know what insights will be revealed once we find a common language. We don’t see how necessary they are as pieces of the puzzle of the humanity we might become. We like to think of ourselves as rational beings despite all the evidence to the contrary. We try to develop systems that will meet other people’s needs and get frustrated when they don’t acknowledge their value. We fail to recognize that what we require does not solely consist of goods and services. We
have to incorporate laughter and desire, incompleteness and growth, as well as all of the classical sins and virtues into any solution we can live with. We need humility as part of our vision and the recognition that we will learn who we are, what we need, and what we are capable of together, as we grow and will need to improvise at every step of the way. Beneath our feet lies one of the rarest gems of the universe, a planet capable of sustaining life. We have an opportunity to understand it and preserve it. We share this planet with a variety of other life forms who contribute to our well being and if we manage to reverse course in a number of areas, perhaps we could be their allies, as well. We are not a blight on this planet, nor its owners. We are simply a species that is capable of great destruction if we remain unaware of consequences. We have been difficult children. If we manage to survive long enough to realize our potential our future could be fascinating. The prevailing myths of our time are that we have no future at all. But there are moments in my life I can’t explain where I see hints of the stories we have yet to write. Perhaps we want to be around for those.
The Radical Drag of My Soul by David Townsend
enjoy a loose but ongoing connection with a gay men’s organization that I admire, respect, and hold in great affection. I remember years ago coming into the main assembly room at one of its gatherings to find silhouette symbols of major world religions hanging in the windows. Notably because uniquely missing was the Cross. The Sanskrit calligraphy for the sacred syllable Aum was mounted upside down. I’m guessing there were no Hindus in the room to point that out. And then there’s the frequency with which gay spiritual gatherings get scheduled smack in the middle of the Jewish High Holidays. As for calling the directions-well, what overwhelmingly Euro-American New Age gay group hasn’t appropriated that particular ceremony from Native American spiritual practice? I totally get the toxicity of Christianity for those who’ve suffered the homophobic, anti-erotic pronouncements that so often poison its well. And I’m the last person to fault queer men for piecing together ritual patterns and spiritual expressions 8
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we can live with from as many traditions as we find available. It’s our genius as faggots to deck our deepest selves out in borrowed fashions, our radical drag of the soul. We found something wonderful at the back of Aunty’s closet. She may not be too happy about what we’ve done with her Dior gown, but we know we look fabulous in it. Angels in America is as brilliant an example of that as you’ll find, but hardly the only one. Still, I agonize a lot about appropriation and exclusion, twin moral perils of life as a privileged, white, cisgendered gay man. The more so when I officiate at a ritual I first created seven years ago and have been leading since—a Lingam Puja that borrows its name from Hindu practice, but strays about as far from authentic Hindu ritual as Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral parts company with a Passover Seder. Instead of the smooth, abstract cylinder that stands as the focal point in a Shiva temple, the Lingam we gather around is a very recognizable sculpture of an erect cock. Then too, I’ve developed
parts of the ceremony straight out of a high Episcofrom deep, embodied experience, how this key fits palian Eucharist--though no one who doesn’t make into the lock. Who know the feel of this key turning the connection for himself needs to know that. in the lock, the sound of this key opening the lock. Sometimes I include readings from contemporary I don’t believe any of this has to be viewed as an Buddhist teachers, or from Rumi and Hafiz. I am, attempt at exclusion. I know some people will say after all is said, a slut who will pray with anybody. this is a dodge. But I still insist on owning my expeMy fellow devotees and I are risking the alienrience and staying true to it. I’d be deeply uncomation of established spiritual communities left and fortable with the idea of shutting others out of the right in this ritual. But the centrality of an anatomicircle--cisgendered and trans women, trans men, cally accurate Lingam isn’t potentially an offense cisgendered men whose erotic lives aren’t focused only to Hindus who see us ripping off a venerable on cock. But there’s no denying that the ritual I lead tradition that doesn’t properly belong to us--a forisn’t focused on them and their experience of the merly colonized one, at that. A twenty-inch wooden world. Instead, I’m open to welcoming such fellow dick on the altar makes it pretty clear that this humans into the circle as visitors, much as I might ritual addresses humans who have a penis and have welcome a Hindu friend attending Mass as a visitor, gathered to own and honor the Divine’s presence much as a Muslim friend might welcome me to his in the wondrous bit of flesh mosque, much as the rabbi of that hangs between our legs-the shul my partner attends “the exposed tip of the heart, in the summer would tell me, the wand of the soul,” as our I’m pretty sure, that no matProphet St. James Broughton ter how many times I come We found something put it. to services, no matter how wonderful at the I’ve spent the last sixty years many times I put on my prayer back of Aunty’s falling deeper into the truth shawl, no matter how glad she closet. She may not that the Sacred is in this body, is I’ve come, I’m still not a visiin all of this body. In the speciftor, and not a Jew. be too happy about ics of this body. This heart. People I respect have asked what we’ve done These hands. This cock. whether I’m not really perwith her Dior gown, I’ve spent decades striving petuating imperialist attitudes but we know we look to claim fully my desire for the to world cultures by drawtribe of those who experience ing on them. They’ve asked fabulous in it. a similar truth. My tribe. The whether I’m not perpetuating tribe of penis-bearing humans patriarchy by encouraging who love other penis-bearing cisgendered men to gather humans. Who through our in celebration of the beauty experience of jacking alone and with friends, of frot- and holiness of the Lingam. But imperialist patriting and sucking and fucking with each other, are archy hasn’t flourished because white cisgendered diving deeper into how living in a body with a penis men are comfortable with our bodies and bond shapes our relation to the world, and our relationsuccessfully with other men. Patriarchal privilege ship to the Sacred. is founded, paradoxically, on the insistence that cisNone of this is unconditioned truth. It’s not gendered men deny our own vulnerably embodied the working out of some universal archetype. It’s experience. Patriarchy demands that we pretend our a result of living in this body, in these bodies, with unpredictable, permeable, changeable, leaky bodies these bodies’ histories. It’s my embodied truth, not are irrelevant to our privileged place in the world. identical with, but akin to, the embodied truth of Patriarchy wants us to see other men as rivals who my comrades. To live out this truth in their comeither pose potential threats or can be dominated. pany is the deep desire of my heart and soul. My I borrow from the wisdom and practice of as many cock is a key to the inner temple, and I long to traditions as I have access to. I reject the homophogather with others whose cocks are keys to the inner bic crap that virtually no tradition is innocent of. I temple. There are other keys to the inner temple. claim my experience of God in my faggot body as There is conceivably a point when the inner temple my own and forge a community out of what I share is opened so wide that keys are no longer relevant. with my fellow travelers. This is as anti-patriarchal But I need the companionship of those who know, as I know how to be.
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Nitpicking as a Spiritual Practice By Graphite
cary these days to look around. Monster probwith two applications, seven days apart. The first lems loom large—climate change, rising sea levshampooing would kill the critters, a week later, els, cataclysmic hurricanes, entire nations uprooted the second would kill that that hatched out in the by violence, massive wildfires, bomb blasts, scores meantime. Ha. It hasn’t worked so handily for me. dead in mass shootings, rampant greed, voted-in Four applications later, crabs still scuttle about my stupidity, an all-out assault on civil rights and civil groin. Last night I removed three of the pests with discourse. In such a world I have been compelled of steel tweezers. I despair of catching them all. Again late to look not around, not within, not at my navel, this morning I itch like crazy. but at my groin. For me, catching crabs is a lesson in keeping Crabs. I caught crabs. Where or from whom I the center. How do I stay open to others, to what’s have no idea. Not through any act of sexual intigoing on around me if I’m fixated on my own inner macy, I am damn sure. No, I got all the joy of pubic turmoil, pain and irritations? I don’t. I quickly lose lice and none of the pleasure that usually brings sight of anything past my groin. I pull at sores. I nit them on. Until now, I’d encountered crabs only in pick. I begin to imagine my life will be a garden of literature. No personal experihappiness if only I clear up ence. I was unprepared for this one damed condition. the intense itching, couldn’t There are many barriers to Before I can be figure out what was hapequanimity, some huge, some pening or why. Maybe my so small I only verify them centered anywhere underwear was to blame. It with a magnifying glass. But else, I must look must be rubbing my pubic best I be on guard, vigilant to my own center, area raw. I switched from and aware. They can creep establish a base of boxers to briefs. No let up. A up on me and make my life week passed. The itching grew miserable, keep me up nights, calm for myself. only more intense. It kept me demand my attention in ways It takes time and awake nights. My pubic area I consider rude and invasive, effort. It doesn’t just was red and raw and hurt unfair, uncomfortable and happen. Instead, something fierce. socially unacceptable. Before Then I remembered a I can be centered anywhere sometimes things piece I’d read recently in The else, I must look to my own happen to us. New York Review of Books. A center, establish a base of calm famous author writes a friend for myself. It takes time and with whom he’s been sexueffort. It doesn’t just hapally intimate during a weekend tryst. He apologizes. pen. Instead, sometimes things happen to us. I can He’s learned he has crabs. Surmises he’s given them nitpick all I want, tweeze everything I find offensive, to her. Suggests she seek treatment from a certain but I’ll never rid my self of all that threatens me. I chemist in Paris. need outside help. Relationship is the medicated Could I have crabs? I examined my groin, poked shampoo that lets me see past myself and turn my through the pubic hairs, lifted up a small gray fleck, focus to others. held it in my palm. It moved, scuttled, crab-like. I But there is no place (except perhaps the grave) peered at it through a magnifying glass. It waved its where people cease being people. They carry with tiny arms at me. I could almost hear it laughing. them themselves—which is to say the glory of their From the drugstore I bought a lice removal kit, resiliency, their ability to dream and hope, make which included a bottle of anti-lice shampoo, a love and seek peace. But they also carry with them nit comb for combing through hair to remove nits their consarned cussedness, opinions, life experi(lice eggs), and a bottle of insecticide spray for the ences, wounds, neediness, propensity for lying to bed mattress. The shampoo label promised relief themselves, capacity for evil, willful blindness, love 10 RFD 172 Winter 2017
of ignorance. We all seek happiness, our utopia, place in the world. Various paths lay before us; some of us yearning for something more, something else. Others are constitutionally inclined to accept whatever is at hand. So we try for joy. And being human, we fail. We destroy that which we strive after. We fail. We flounder. We mess up. There is a worm in the apple. This should not come as a surprise, but as a given. We must make allowances, learn for ourselves where our limits are. “Yes! No” Mary Oliver titles one of her poems
about a walk through the world. Serenity is not something you’re just going to stumble upon, she says. We all have opinions. We are of two minds. We set boundaries. We welcome, we draw lines. Awareness is our responsibility, she concludes. And what a job it is. “To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” With attention, I must first approach the center within myself. Up to me to recognize it, tend it, keep it clear, clean. From this foundation, I can join with others in addressing the demands of the wider world.
Adaptation by Sunflower
his is a song-text that I wrote as an adaptation to Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. It is sung best to the tune of Rufus Wainwright’s arrangement. I performed it for the first time with my friend Baby Goro at this year’s summer gathering at our
European sanctuary Folleterre. It was quite a hit and as I hear from Faerie friends it has gotten a life of it’s own and is sung on various occasions wherever Faeries gather. So I thought I would like to make it available to all Faeries…
Faerie Yoo-hoo I’ve heard there was a secret place, where Faeries meet in a safer space, but you have never heard of Faeries, have ya ? They sing and dance, and touch and hug, they work the land, they love and fuck. And everyday they do the Faerie Yoo-hoo
Your faith was strong but you needed proof, you saw him dancing on the roof. His beauty in the moonlight overthrew ya. You threw him in the drag room mess, you sucked his cock, you spanked his ass. And from his lips you drew the Faerie Yoo-hoo Chorus
Chorus: Faerie Yoo-hoo, Faerie Yoo-hoo, Faerie Yoo-hoo, Faerie Yoo-hoo ooo ooo
Maybe I’ve been here before, I know this room,I’ve walked this floor. I used to feel alone before I knew ya! To speak and listen from the heart. To feel at home, right from the start. It’s a warm and it’s a crazy Faerie Yoo-hoo. Chorus repeat twice
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examination by luke kurtis
she came with a great retinue camels bearing spices very much gold and precious stones her black skin gleaming in the desert sun headdress wrapped as we liken to Africa even today dyed colorfully inspiring poets to capture her likeness painted in word the front porch of the plantation home is attended by familiar descendants who wipe their brow doused in southern heat drinking lemonade and sweet tea
when Beyoncé sang Formation butt-length braids dangled from her head swaying like the Blue Nile flowing out of Lake Tana Matsoukas said, “this is a call to resistance” while the graffiti proclaimed “stop shooting us” the music was enough but the video made it clear this—here—is what we must talk about —no— it is what we must—do— something about like the Queen of Sheba we must ask the hard questions but can we answer them to her satisfaction?
we pretend slavery is a deed of the past and excuse our grandparents for using words like nigger and coon “it was a different time” we soon forgive their transgressions when Congress is in session and Ms. Warren is silenced yet she persists we must resist not just the privilege marked by our skin but the privilege of generations before us who thought Rosa should sit at the back of the bus who didn't make a fuss and march with Doctor King from Selma to Montgomery
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“Can You Hear Me” by Jan Ziegler
Marginalization by J. James Keels
Dear RFD Editors, I am very excited about the focus of this next issue. Marginalization is stifling, particularly when the center is seen as natural, or a “given” by those in power. This discussion is critical to the LGBT community as we envision a future where equality is not just an ethic, but practice. Given the fact that intersectionality is core to our community, and sexual identity is only one part of who we are, we must engage in dialogue that at times will feel uncomfortable. Thanks for adding to the dialogue! I am submitting two poems for consideration. The first, “Experience Song,” is a response to an academic essay on foundational understanding. I agree with Joan Scott and Judith Butler, and wrote that “experience can’t be the basis for foundations.” This song engages with post-modern ideas of epistemology and identity politics. The second poem, “That Particular Moment,” is about being a survivor of the AIDS epidemic, and how new generations, often unfamiliar with this history, unknowingly marginalize earlier struggles. How do we come to terms with our past, and honor what many have endured while facing an inclusive future? I appreciate your time and consideration as you construct a narrative for this issue of RFD. Yours in Solidarity, J. James Keels (Poems follow on next pages)
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Experience Song (with guitar chords) Inspired by Joan W. Scott’s “Experience” from Feminists Theorize the Political (edited by Judith Butler and Joan W. Scott) VERSE 1 VERSE 2 G Em Breaking silence and sharing experience
G Em Knowledge is gained through vision
C D7 makes communities visible—
C D7 then it’s written on paper;
G Em Samuel Delany wrote that group sex
G Em the visible is privileged
C D7 gave him political power.
C D7 and writing is put at its service.
*CHORUS G A Experience can’t be the basis D G for foundations— G A we have to question authority D G in all its guises. VERSE 3 VERSE 4 This discourse has created a crisis in orthodox history - historians of difference grapple with how to forgo authority.
Making experience visible can preclude examination of the workings of ideological systems, its categories of representation.
*CHORUS VERSE 5 VERSE 6 Gayatri Spivak says it’s possible to see the subject-position, not in terms of reality, but in its operations. *CHORUS
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The history of concepts and categories can help us understand experience this is what Foucault meant when he talked of genealogy.
That Particular Moment Honoring Our Experiences—SHANTI, Saratoga Springs, CA: December 2016 (with thanks to Gregg Cassin) I wonder often, that particular moment when I stop short of the busy day, turning my head toward the window of the wide room as shadows flit about, deepening texture, and telling me stories. My day was full, I worked hard - my heart a sated belly, I rarely stopped to gasp in a staccato inhale, yet life was so rich that day, filled with impossible beauty nestled in rote schedule. Minute moments, between bulkier tasks, demanded appreciation: tree canopies undulating in December winds, an unsolicited smile, the creases around a stranger’s eyes – a deep full breath while cracking my stiff back— and I feel such gratitude, or I would surely otherwise be undeserving to live this life, painful and dark as it can sometimes be. Gratitude for all I have, for all these moments— it is the reverence I offer those before me. Those who have gone. When time slows in that particular moment, when the red sun tucks into a hesitant horizon I stop long enough to wonder: Did it really happen? Did we die? Who among us? Who tended the beds? What was lost? Can any measure even calculate? And in that particular moment, I allow myself once more to grieve. To summon names. I close my eyes, see faces: some obscured with time—sky reflected water ripples. It took my elders, potential friends and teachers I could have known, who could have known me. I needed those men. To tell me I was okay when my own family made me feel shame— when then I turned self-destructive and self-loathing. I needed those men. To see me, and justify existence to my troubled youthful mind. To lead, so I could follow their mature gait to where they stood tending wild precipices, and balancing scales. Yet they were missing. Gone.
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It took men from my formative years— brothers of bearded beauty, the high Magi of Faggotry. I never danced naked with them in the redwoods. All I really knew of them was first their sickness, and then the grieving that surrounded them. It altered men I loved, who held me tight, and loved me even when they felt diseased their faces altered— med flesh-redistribution. I assured them of their beauty, their enormous worth, holding them as they wept in a gathering shadow of loss. In that particular moment, when I turn off the lights and gather my bag, I wonder: why them why not me I was at risk I did the same stuff why did they get it and I didn’t— I can wonder all I want—but there is no sense making to be had. Logic is an insufferable failure, eluding solace or insight. And how, I ask myself, to live in the present, look to the future while honoring our dark past? All we have lost, and gained? I recount plague days to new Millennia. How we fought for our lives. Describe those we lost, all the while wondering what is lost in translation. I hover near tables as others discuss a Queer future. Me, seemingly obsolete to these discussions. Me: Caucasian, cis-gendered—an anachronism of plague days, a relic of earlier liberation representing privilege that oppresses some, while also representing times others cannot conceptualize. I persist on this new PreP playground, unsure where to stand. And I still wonder, in those particular moments Did it really happen? Did we die? Who among us? Who tended the beds? What was lost? Can any measure even calculate? I linger at that wide window, linger long, peering out at the darkening sky, an orange thumbprint smeared across the horizon and I summon cool air to my damaged lungs until I can feel heavy again.
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“Dream of Life” by Rene Capone
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The Charity Shop by Stuart Collinson
Synopsis This play is set in a charity shop at lunchtime in any high street in modern day UK. There are two main characters, a mid-20’s to 30’s male (ANDREW) and a mid 20’s to 30’s female (DAWN). There is another older (old fashioned) female character 50 plus that is seen at the beginning and the end of the play (DORIS). The play is essentially a light hearted comedy with some thought provoking issues.
Cast DAWN is dressed in jeans and a smart blouse. ANDREW is dressed in jeans and a smart T shirt. DORIS is dressed in an old fashioned 1950’s dress.
Setting The charity shop has male and female rails of clothes, as well as a few bric a brac items and a changing room behind a curtain. Estimated running time 30 minutes.
Music There are some suggestions of appropriate music in the scenes, but it is up to the director to decide what to use. The availability of this script does not imply that it is automatically available for private or public performance. The name of the author shall be stated on all publicity, programmes, etc. All copyright with the author Stuart Collinson.
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The Charity Shop DORIS Well what have we here, another batch of second hand clothes. That’ll do nicely. We’ll have a look and steam clean them later on. DORIS picks up a large bra from the new bag of clothes in a black bin bag. DORIS Business is firm but not ‘bust’. It’s amazing what people bring in these days but we’re very grateful that they do. All for a good cause. DORIS laughs. DORIS Another twenty minutes and Andrew should be back so I can go out for lunch. I do hope he’s not late as I’ve got an appointment. Oh I do like to work in a charity shop though, no politics, sucking up to the boss, etc. Mind you I did my fair share in the past but not anymore! DORIS picks up a pair of men’s underpants. DORIS Good grief, look at the size of them. Who would want to wear these things? Rent a tent! DORIS picks up a ladies G string knickers. DORIS And for goodness sake you’re not even wearing anything with these on! The young folk of today. DORIS laughs. At this moment DAWN comes in to start work as a new volunteer in the charity shop. DORIS Ah, that’ll be the new volunteer. DAWN walks in and asks for DORIS.
shop. Head Office told me you’d be coming. Would you like a cup of tea? DAWN That would be lovely thanks, just milk no sugar. DORIS I’ll just pop the kettle on. Have you had much experience in shops? DORIS starts making tea for them both while they chat. DAWN Well I used to work in a coffee shop as a summer job once, quite enjoyed it. I work part time now in accountancy. I enjoy meeting people and would like to give something back to society as they say. DAWN and DORIS politely chuckle. DORIS Andrew our other volunteer has had to pop out for a while but should be back later. He’s fine, a nice lad. He’s an accountant too.. DAWN That’s good having another colleague. DORIS Yes he’s been here for just over a year now, very helpful. He’ll keep you … ‘straight’. DAWN smiles at DORIS. DORIS Well there’s nothing like throwing you in at the deep end, but I have to go out to the bank now. I do apologise for this. As it’s lunchtime I’ll close the shop until I get back. Andrew will be back shortly. There’s my mobile number in case there is anything urgent. Bye for now. DORIS puts her frumpy hat and coat on and leaves the shop.
DAWN Hello, can I speak to Doris please?
DORIS Cheerio Dawn, be back later. Just help yourself to tea and coffee.
DORIS Hello, and welcome to the charity shop. I’m really pleased you can become a volunteer in our charity
DAWN Well the buck stops here, I’m in charge after only 15 minutes (she chuckles to herself ). RFD 172 Winter 2017 19
DAWN browses the items in the shop, running her hand over a rail of clothes, picking up the odd bric-a-brac. DAWN (saying to herself ) Where’s the loo …? DAWN goes off to the toilet. Andrew comes in the front door of the charity shop, opening the door with his key. ANDREW Doris? he quietly asks? I have the helm, Mr. Spock he jokingly says. All stations ahead. ANDREW carefully looks around the rails of clothes to check no one is there. ANDREW is unaware that new start Dawn is in the back of the charity shop on the toilet. ANDREW What a place to work … all this is mine! he mutters to himself. ANDREW goes to the changing room and draws the small curtain. DAWN then comes out unaware of ANDREW’s presence and proceeds to tidy a few things up. ANDREW then comes out of the changing room [closet] dressed in a white Marilyn Monroe dress, blond wig and lipstick, singing. ANDREW (singing) I wanna be loved by you, just you, And noboldy else but you, I wanna be loved by you, alone! Boop-boop-de-boop! # Happy birthday ……… Mr. President … Happy birthday to yoouuuuuuu ….. #. ANDREW blows a kiss to the audience. DAWN is dumbfounded and looks around not knowing where to put herself, and wonders what she should say. ANDREW then stands in front of a fan and imitates the famous scene where Marilyn Monroe’s white dress is blown. 20 RFD 172 Winter 2017
ANDREW then does a twirl and a sexy catwalk unaware of DAWN until he finally sees her. ANDREW does a double take and looks mortified! DAWN You must be Angela … I mean Andrew … ? ANDREW GOOD GRIEF! Yes I am Andrew. Pleased to meet you. Sorry I didn’t know there was anyone in the shop. I knew we had a new volunteer coming but I didn’t realise you’d be here so early. You’re probably wondering why I’m dressed in a dress?! Well, I was just trying it on for my girlfriend … We’re the same size and I thought she would like this dress … Oh dear, this reminds me when I was first caught trying my sister’s dress on …. DAWN You don’t have to explain to me! Each to their own, I say, right? In fact, it quite suits you. ANDREW Look, I apologise, can you keep this to yourself please? It won’t happen again. DAWN looks mischievously at ANDREW. DAWN Mmmmmm … maybe! ANDREW PARDON? What do you mean … ‘Maybe’? DAWN takes Andrew in a dance hold and does a briefly swirl around the floor. DAWN Well you like being dressed as a woman, let’s see if you still feel the same after a bit of female harassment? What about a little slap and tickle then? DAWN then squeezes ANDREW’s false boob and ANDREW takes a step back. DAWN then pats ANDREW’s bottom loudly and ANDREW again pulls back. Stop that!
DAWN nips ANDREW’s bottom. DAWN How do you feel now? Like a complete woman? ANDREW Ha ha, it wasn’t that bad actually, but unsure if I’d like it all the time! DAWN EXACTLY! Even more so for me when a guy hits on me. Not as bad when a female hits on me though. DAWN smiles. ANDREW Oh I see. Same as me I suppose when a girl hits on me. Different if it’s a guy! DAWN then holds a microphone or banana sticking out beside her crotch and jokingly says DAWN Come on then girl, on your knees … hands behind your back! ANDREW laughs. ANDREW Certainly not! In your dreams. I’m not that kind of girl. At this point DAWN picks up a leather type trilby and a whip. She cracks the whip on the floor. ANDREW Dr. Jones … Dr. Jones … save me? # Indiana Jones theme tune playing. # DAWN Hang on girl, you’re in for a real ride. You can call me Indy. ANDREW Crack that whip again. ANDREW holds his/her bottom out. DAWN cracks the whip again. You missed!.
DAWN tuts and throws the whip at ANDREW who goes to the changing room. ANDREW comes out of the changing room in a long, old fashioned 19th Century dress. DAWN simultaneously puts on an Admiral’s or sailor’s cap nearby from the charity shop. I’m ready Napoleon.
DAWN Not tonight, Josephine! ANDREW goes back to the changing room and comes out in a schoolgirl outfit. DAWN puts on a black coat and headmaster’s cap. DAWN Well, have you done your homework, Angela? No, sorry sir … .
DAWN Why have you not done your homework? ANDREW Well … I was kissing some boys behind the cycle shed! Sorry Sir. DAWN Well it’ll be detention for you … to make sure you do it right! ANDREW skips back to the dressing room and comes out of the dressing room in a netball (gymslip) outfit. DAWN puts on a rugby shirt and white shorts. ANDREW pretends to play netball while DAWN mimics rugby. DAWN I used to be the hooker! ANDREW Is there a big ball to play with? ANDREW and DAWN both laugh and take RFD 172 Winter 2017 21
stock of the fun they’ve had. DAWN Look, I know we’ve just met but I’ve had some really good fun with you. In fact, I quite like you …….. if you get my meaning? ANDREW Yes, it had been daring fun especially with Doris likely to come back at any minute. It’s the way I feel too. Maybe we’re just being who we feel right to be? DAWN Does your family know you’re gay? ANDREW Yes, but at this moment in time, bisexual! What about you, does your family know you’re a lesbian? DAWN No, but as you so rightly say, at this moment in time, bisexual! ANDREW Look, do you fancy giving it a go … between ourselves if there’s no one else you’re involved with? DAWN and ANDREW both laugh together with relief and happiness. DAWN and ANDREW very slowly kiss each other. ANDREW Imagine the shock or puzzlement on their faces when we meet other’s families. They’ll think we’re ‘normal’. DAWN and ANDREW both laugh. ANDREW I’ll choose the curtains! DAWN We’ll BOTH choose the curtains! That’s right.
DAWN I’m in charge of the remote for the television. ANDREW 22 RFD 172 Winter 2017
We’ll BOTH have the remote. I like to watch Strictly Come Dancing. I love those glamorous dresses.. So do I … .
ANDREW I like to listen to Doris Day and Elton John. ‘I’m just a girl that can’t say no …. #’ DAWN There will be none of this headache business then! I like to listen to Queen and K.D. Lang. I like YMCA! I like YMCA!
ANDREW and DAWN look at each other realising they have a lot in common. DAWN What if things really developed and we got married? ANDREW Well, we’ll take turns on the cookery, washing, cleaning, etc. No excuse having two girls in the house. Why guys don’t do it I don’t know? DAWN Yes dear, but the loo roll faces inwards from the back … and no sprouts for dinner. ANDREW As we’re the same size, we could save money on using each others clothes. But leave the prom dress for me … it’s special, just like me! ANDREW gives a feminine cute look. ANDREW stands proudly. ANDREW I am the biological man and it’s in my genes to provide and protect he jokes. DAWN But this is our relationship so it’ll be 50 / 50. As it happens we both earn about the same too and we both want to go out to work. So none of this stay at home, cooking, cleaning, housework for me … Or
should that be for you being a transvestite? DAWN and ANDREW both laugh. ANDREW So I’ll be dressed as a female, or as your darling wife when at home? DAWN Yes that sounds good to me. I’ll just be in my jeans and T shirt. I’ll be the man of the house then! ANDREW So will I be in a way. I can be the lady of the house too. ANDREW and DAWN both laugh. DAWN When we both go out together, we can dress as our biological selves as we do now. But when we’re at home, it’ll be our special love between us as we live out lives the way we want to. Will you teach me how to fish? ANDREW Of course, anything. Will you teach me how to multi-task? DAWN Mmmmm, that WILL be hard. It’s in our genes!. ANDREW and DAWN both laugh. ANDREW changes into a wedding dress of sorts. DAWN changes into a suit and tie.
EPILOGUE. ANDREW (Holding each other closely) I can feel the passion/chemistry/lust in us, things are going to work between us. DAWN Me too … it’ll be my first time too but looking forward to it. ANDREW Not many white weddings these days are there?. DAWN Well perhaps not white exactly … maybe …. More like …. RAINBOW! RAINBOW!
ANDREW ANDREW DAWN
It’s a Kinda Magic by Queen softly playing. ANDREW and DAWN There’s nothing as queer as folk! ANDREW and DAWN walk off stage holding hands. FADE OUT
DAWN What about our wedding? I’ll have a stag do with my girlfriends. ANDREW I’ll have a hen night with my mates. I look forward to my Dad taking me down the aisle in a fluffy wedding dress … it’ll not be white! DAWN Well perhaps my Dad can take me down the aisle at the same time? It’ll certainly be a different but our wedding and the way we want it.
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24 RFD 172 Winter 2017
“Black Abyss” by Marc DeBauch
by Samuel E. Cole
esire stirs in him like medicine, moving everything he knows, and some things he doesn’t, closer to the outdoors. Awareness tempts him to go farther. Mind games are abuzz. He’s alert & acute & auspicious. Adolescence grows both above and below the waist. In his bedroom, free of nighttime noise, he plays with roles, fantasies, and costumes. Emotional acts of mental passion released by physical goo into a thin black towel. Daylight is getting stronger, calling out like a song. Boundaries feel more like boundless possibilities. There’s a flux in the force. Premonitions of promise. Inclinations to do something wild. Monday arrives and he counts forty-three steps to the mailbox. Tuesday comes and he does it in a bathrobe and sandals. Wednesday is too thick with summer wind. Thursday uproars like a corporate-espionage-movie-marathon playing in the den. Friday rain and Saturday gloom keep him in the kitchen, helping mom and gramp-gramps cut pasta strips for lasagna. Sunday— God needs veneration—is rife with slamming doors and mom’s hurry-up gesticulations and dad’s anger with gas prices and who has any energy to do anything but keep quiet and follow the routine until Monday reappears and reopens its doors for business. Model Monday—saturated with surprise. Ah! Sunday night arrives, and he plans what to wear—what not to wear—how to dance the dance he wants to dance without ever being taught the dance. He puts on a record and disrobes, slapping junk against curly tufts of brown pubic hair. He dedicates the dance, reflected in a rectangular mirror, to all men, like him, who need and love to dance. In his dreams, a band of tall, rain-soaked walking sticks stand upright in crisp, white navy uniforms. Monday smells triumphant. The mailbox lid sits closed. The red flag points upward like a fire alarm.
Dance, he says. Dance out the screen door and all the way to the street. Come on. Don’t be shy. Dance. You have to. Five cars drive by the house in less than one minute. Two black SUV’s and three brown moving vans. 11:26. 11:38. 11:53. 11:59. Down to whitey-tighties. He flings open the screen door. Leaps into the grisly wind. Birds sound happy. Sun beams bright. He stands beside the mailbox like a package waiting for collection. An advertisement—buyer must have strong hands: must possess car: must love to dance. Three cars honk. A bicycler scowls. A mini-van put on its brakes and squeals to a stop, slowly drives backward, forward, backward, forward. “Can I help you?” the driver asks, sending the boy into a fit of fully-expanded ambition. Bouncing into the middle of the yard. Waving. Go. Go. Go. Not the right dance eyes. Not the right nose. A bright red Ford pick-up truck stops and rolls down the window. The man winks and leans his head sideways. “Hey buddy. Watcha up too?” The boy smiles. The dance—more hip-hop than jazz—has begun. Inside the truck, the boy bounces on the black leather seat and waves goodbye to the house and mailbox and boring weekdays he will never forget. Or miss. The man puts a hand on the boy’s leg, sending pleasure-shivers to places the boy can’t reach in the shower. “You’re quite the cutie.” He moves the hand upward. “I don’t usually drive this route home but I’m glad I did today. Why don’t you take off those underwear and let me see what’s happening underneath.” The boy smiles and obeys. Then he frowns. For a moment. He knows there will never be another first dance. No brighter sun. No happier birds. No way to leap out and start over. Is there? No, there isn’t. Not when you need to dance. Like this.
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An Anxious Union by William Estep
Abstract: A wedding planner for a same-sex couple want to hold a marriage ceremony at the homeless shelter where they met is troubled by an anonymous person or group that threatens to attack the ceremonies and kill everyone. The couple’s wedding planner is convinced it is a regular at the shelter, an old Vietnam vet. “I talked with John and William this morning, and they want me to assure you they will gladly postpone the ceremony, or even change venues in light of these threats. No hard feelings. They both just want to make sure everyone is safe. The last thing they want is their special day tarnished because folks don’t feel safe.” Maggie Jeffers said. Dressed in a tidy skirt, matching jacket and discrete jewelry, her image was that of a consummate professional. The manager of the Gerard-Libscomb Homeless Shelter, Sarah Carnahan, gave off an air of calm and self-reliance that spilled over on those around her. “Maggie, the staff and I have discussed the threats, and we’ve talked with our regulars, and everyone agrees we shouldn’t back down or give in to these bigots.” Sarah said. She had faced these types of threats before, and worse. “We’ve told the police about the phone calls and the letters. In fact, we plan to have police here keeping an eye on things. Just stay cool and we will get through today.” Maggie’s phone rang again. Maggie and Sarah traded a quick glance. Maggie took a breath and blew it out noisily, then answered the phone, “Maggie Jeffers, Wedding Planner. May I help you?” she said.
from Maggie and hung up the call. “Don’t engage, honey,” she said. “That type of garbage thrives on attention. It’s important not to give them any.” “I can’t even block the numbers, they call from a different number every time.” Maggie said. “The police said there is a chance it’s someone regular to the shelter that’s making the threats, but I don’t think so,” said Sarah. “Yes, we have some crotchety old fogies here, but I’ve never heard them threaten any of the other members.” “What about the old man everyone calls Old Travis? He’s said some nasty things before,” Maggie said. “And he is always asking me about the wedding and if it is still happening.” “Old Travis?” Sarah said. “Yeah, he’s got his challenges. Most vets do. But I’ve never heard of any problems between him and our LGBTQ members. Trust me, I would know.” Maggie felt out of place at the homeless shelter, but she liked the language Sarah used, always referring to the homeless as members. “So you are sure we should go forward with the ceremony?” Maggie asked.
“If you go through with that filthy abomination today, we will kill you all!” said a gruff male voice.
“Absolutely!” Sarah said. She handed Maggie her phone back and returned to her desk. “Look at it this way, 40% of homeless teens are LGBTQ. This is a great opportunity to show everyone that people do make it out of the shelters, and that kids abandoned by their families still have the chance to grow up and find love and happiness.”
Maggie closed her eyes and took a slow, shuddering breath before replying, “Excuse me sir, I don’t appreciate your threats. The police...”
“Hey Lady, you part of that wedding today?” a male voice asked.
The voice interrupted, “Fuck you! and all those faggots you have down there. We will kill you as the Bible commands! We will...” Sarah took the phone
Maggie stiffened in alarm. Was that the same voice she’s been hearing on the phone? It was very similar. She turned from the table where she was
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arranging the guest books. Every time she has been here over the past few months planning this wedding, she has seen Old Travis. He seemed to seek her out when she was here, and despite the fact that she has introduced herself to him many times, he didn’t remember her. “Yes Mr. Travis,” Maggie said. “I’m Maggie, the wedding planner for John and William’s wedding. The ceremony starts today at 4 pm. Will you be joining us?”
“Miss Jeffers, when did the threats begin?” Sergeant Lennie Tucker asked. “I remember exactly, “ said Maggie, “it was the day after City Councilman Wallace said he would block all marriage licenses if his workers were required to give out marriage licenses to same sex couples. Obviously an idle threat because they are issuing licenses. But the news coverage of his announcement was when the threats started.”
“I don’t know. They are decent enough boys, but I don’t know why they need to get married. I know “And did those initial threats come directly to boys do those things sometimes, but why does it you?” have to be out in the open like this?” Old Travis said. He didn’t look at Maggie, just at the table. He “No. The first was a letter, and it was sent here to picked up one of the delicate the homeless shelter. I guess cream colored cards on because of the wedding anthe table, his hand shaknouncement in the newsing slightly. “Pttf!” he said paper. I didn’t start getting tossing the card back on the threats until about a week “Look at it this way, table. “Seems like such a ago,” said Maggie. 40% of homeless teens waste of money.” are LGBTQ. This is a “Have you been apgreat opportunity to “It is a very special ocproached by anyone directly?” casion, Mr. Travis, we want Sergeant Tucker asked. He show everyone that to make it as special for was a tall middle-aged man in people do make it out John and William as we can. a sports coat that was loosing of the shelters, and They have waited so long a battle with his barrel chest. that kids abandoned by just for the right to marry.” she said. “There is an older hometheir families still have less guy here at the shelter the chance to grow “I hear the city ain’t to that always approaches me up and find love and happy about having to let when I’m here and asks about happiness.” boys get married. You think the ceremony. He scares me a they will just sit by?” He said, bit, and I have wondered if he turning and slowly walking isn’t behind the threats,” Magaway down the hall. “Hell no gie said. “His voice is similar they wont just sit by. They got guns and sticks and to the phone calls, and he doesn’t seem happy about they don’t give a damn about us and could easily just the ceremony.” blow this whole place to hell.” He turned and went through the door to the common area, where the “Do you know his name?” shelter provided TV and Internet access. Maggie could still hear him after he passed through the door, “Travis Whitten,” Maggie said. “They call him but his rant faded as the door closed. Old Travis.” Maggie picked up the card where Old Travis had tossed it. She put it back in it’s place, then took in the whole table. ‘Lovely,’ she thought. The ringing of her cell phone snapped her out of her reverie.
Sergeant Tucker made some notes on his pad. “I will be here throughout the day with several uniformed, and patrol cars will be in the area. If you must keep your phone, please let me know if you receive any more threats. Also, it is important to know if the language of the threats changes. It could RFD 172 Winter 2017 27
be an indication of impending trouble.” “Thank you, Sergeant,” Maggie said. “I am so nervous, but everyone is committed to going forward with the ceremony.”
“Thank you for coming early,” Maggie said. The groomsmen and other wedding party members began arriving. Maggie set to work getting everyone in their place and letting them know their responsibilities. She noticed Old Travis approaching her again. He had changed his clothes and was now wearing a button down shirt, with an old combat jacket over it. To Maggie, it looked like a very old military jacket her grandfather might have worn with several unit patches sown on it. It was old, but in good shape she noticed.
party members. Her cell phone rang again.
“Please, Sergeant,” Maggie said, “don’t let him back in till after the ceremony. I think he’s the one making the threats. He’s now dressed in some sort of military garb and he was asking if the ceremony is still on.” “Ok, Ma’am,” Sergeant Tucker said. “We will check him out. Did he threaten you directly? Or use abusive language?”
“Hey Lady!” Old Travis said. “I hear there’s going to be a wedding here today.”
“Not exactly,” Maggie said. “But the voice on the phone sounds just like his, and he has commented about ‘The Boys’ several times. He has made it clear he doesn’t like the idea of gay men getting married. The phone calls have gotten worse as well. The last call,” her throat tightened and she felt tears welling up in her eyes. “No, I can’t fall apart now.” She took a deep breath before continuing.
“That’s right, Mr. Travis.” Maggie said. He didn’t look directly at Maggie. He didn’t make eye contact with her or anyone else that she had noticed.
“He said we would all burn, and that I would burn with the rest of them,” Maggie said. “Though his language was more harsh.”
“I ain’t no Mr.” Old Travis said. “It’s just Old Travis or Whitten. Save the Mr’s for someone else.”
“Ma’am, you still have the option of not answering the phone.” Sergeant Tucker said. “You should consider shutting off your phone and tomorrow changing the number.”
“I’m sorry, Old Travis,” Maggie said. “I guess it’s just a habit, always saying Mr. or Mrs.” “No need to waste that stuff on me,” Old Travis said. “Look here. I know there’s been talk of trouble. Those boys still planning on getting hitched here today?” This time, he looked directly into Maggie’s eyes. She felt his gaze hit her like the shock of jumping into a cold lake. His eyes were steel blue, clear and unforgiving. “Well?” Maggie jumped at the word, “Yes, Mr. Travis. The wedding is still on. Scheduled to start in about an hour.” Old Travis snorted, and turned away from Maggie. He walked out the shelter’s front door. Maggie closed her eyes and hugged her planning notebook to her chest. She took a few calming breaths then got back to work directing wedding 28 RFD 172 Winter 2017
“You know I can’t do that!” Maggie said. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to snap, but if everyone else can ignore these threats and get on with the day, so can I. After all, it’s my job to make sure everyone has an unforgettable day.”
“Everything looks wonderful, Maggie,” said Sarah. She glanced around the main hall admiring the simple and elegant decorations. “The caterers just arrived in back. They are setting up for the reception.” Thanks for letting them in,” Maggie said. She snapped her notebook closed and gave her hair a frustrated toss with her free hand. “Hang in there, kid,” Sarah said. “We’re almost
there and you are doing a great job.”
bling sound became audible.
“Am I?” Maggie said. She turned on Sarah and took a step closer to her. “Am I doing a great job? We could have a gang of rednecks in pickup trucks show up any second and firebomb the place. The grooms are going to arrive any minute, and I don’t know if we are going to live to see the reception.”
“What’s that?” Maggie asked. The sound grew steadily louder. It sounded as though a plague of locust were descending on the shelter.
“Whoa!” Sarah said. She reached to put a hand on Maggie’s shoulder, but Maggie flinched away. “Why don’t you come back to my office and lie down. Things can run on autopilot for a while.” “No chance.” Maggie said. “I’m not giving in. They may think scaring me will stop the ceremony. Well, they have underestimated me.” She turned and walked toward the front doors of the hall, her shoes ringing out a staccato tattoo on the hard tile floor. Her cell phone rang as she reached the front doors.
Walking out on the front steps of the old colonial revival building, Maggie stopped for a moment and shielded her eyes from the sun. The front had been cleaned up as much as possible, and bunting added to the structure, but it still looked like a run-down decaying facade surrounded by more downtown decay in all directions. “Everything ready inside?” said Sergeant Tucker. Maggie jumped and whirled on him ready to defend herself. “Easy Ma’am,” Sergeant Tucker said. He was leaning against the wall on the other side of the door standing in part shadow. “Jesus!” Maggie said. “You scared me half to death.” She knelt down to pick up her planning book where she’d dropped it. “It’s been quiet out here Ma’am. As I understand it, the grooms are due to arrive shortly.” he said.
Maggie stood at the top of the steps, shielding her eyes looking toward the sky. As the sound grew louder, she raised her shaking fist to the sky, “Come on you bastards! Do you worst. Just get it over with!” She dropped her notebook and phone. She covered her ears. The sound was drowning out her screams. Around the corner and turning onto the street in front of the shelter large motorcycles began roaring up to the front of the shelter. Inside the large swarm of bikes, a black town car pulled up to the curb. The bikes continued to swarm around the front and now sides of the shelter. Louder and louder, they kept coming. Bikers in all shapes and sizes, all rough and dangerous looking, covered in leather and scars, rode up to fill any open spots surrounding the shelter. They stayed on their bikes, engines roaring, no eyes visible, just shaded or mirrored sunglasses. Maggie unsure what to do or which direction to run, she clutched at Sergeant Tucker. Then as one, all the sound stopped. Every motorcycle was shut off. A large man got off of the motorcycle just in front of the town car. He was wearing a similar style combat jacket that Maggie had seen earlier on Old Travis. He opened the door of the town car, and to Maggie’s surprise, Old Travis stepped out of the car followed by the two grooms, John and William. Old Travis shook hands and clapped shoulders with the tall motorcycle rider, he turned toward Maggie, looked her squarely in the eye, and she felt that same cold certainty in his stare, “These boys are family. No one fucks with a vet or his family. The Rough Riders will see to that.” he said loudly and clearly. “Now, let’s get these boys married!”
“Well it hasn’t been quiet inside. My phone hasn’t stopped all day, and the threats just get more outrageous,” Maggie said. “Did you find that Old Travis yet?” Before Sergeant Tucker could answer, a low rum
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An Interview with Ian Young by Franklin Abbott
Ian Young’s latest book, London Skin and Bones: The Finbury Park Stories, is a delightful collection of short stories written about a working class neighborhood in London in the eighties. Young lived among a colorful cast of characters and has represented their lives and relationships in a collection of thirteen stories published by Squares and Rebels with illustrations by William Kimber. Young is a prolific writer who lives in Toronto. He founded the first gay press, Catalyst, and is author of a number of seminal works about gay culture and politics including The Male Muse, The Son of the Male Muse, The Male Homosexual in Literature, Sex Magick, Out in Paperback: A Visual History of the Gay Pulps and The Stonewall Experiment: A Gay Psychohistory. He has been active in the Peace, Gay Liberation and AIDS Dissident movements and wrote a book column for The Body Politic and Torso. He is an avid stamp collector. What brought you to writing? Writing things down always seemed natural to me. I could read and write before I went to school, which rather alarmed my teachers. My first more-orless serious writing was in high school - parodies and pastiches of James Joyce and the Beats and imitations of English essayists. At the University of Toronto my poems were published in a college magazine and spotted by the poet Dennis Lee who was on the faculty. His publishing house, House of Anansi, published my first poetry collection, Year of the Quiet Sun. I was hooked! Do you have specific writing habits? No, I do not. A muse? I find the Male Muse everywhere! 30 RFD 172 Winter 2017
You are both a writer and an activist. How does one aspect inform the other? As a teenager I was active in the Peace and Civil Rights movements and in 1969 I was able to help start the first Canadian gay liberation group. In the early years of the gay movement, when media exposure was minimal, small press pamphlets and poetry chapbooks were important means of expression and communication. I started collecting them, which led to my editing The Male Muse, the first openly gay poetry anthology, and its sequel Son of the Male Muse. I was also seeing great gay writing that wasn’t being published so I started Catalyst, the first gay literary press. And I was at the right place at the right time to write for the emerging gay press in Canada, the US and Europe. My writing and my activism fit naturally together. Writing is action after all. But a writer should avoid following party lines! London Skin and Bones describes a time in gay history before AIDS. What moved you to write these stories and to share them now? I was born in London, in the building where Holmes met Watson, St. Bart’s Hospital, during a severe V-weapons air raid, and I’ve returned to my home town periodically throughout my life. The stories in London Skin and Bones began with a memory of being kissed by a friendly skinhead while sheltering in a shop doorway. Writing the story summoned up other memories of working-class London in the Thatcher years that I knew well. London is my spiritual home and I have a special fondness for Londoners. Also I wanted to set my stories in a happy time. We live in a cynical age, and much of our literature, even some of the best of it, is a cynical literature, dark, irony-laden, full of horrors. Shortly after the publication of my book The Stonewall Experiment,
which dealt in part with the AIDS crisis, the writer Michael Rumaker said to me “You’ve shown the hell if it!” The remark stuck in my mind, and though it was meant as a compliment, triggered a feeling that I had more to say from the other side of the street, with a different perspective. What fascinates you about stamps? I’ve collected stamps for most of my life. (I have 170 volumes of world stamps.) I think part of the impetus to stamp collecting is similar to the impulse to writing. You’re making an instructive and aesthetically appealing order out of the chaos of a box of mixed-up bits of paper. And stamp collecting appeals to my interest in modern history and design. Do you keep up with any of the prototypes? Where
Illustration by William Kimber
are they now and how are they doing? I prefer to let The Finsbury Park Stories stand complete in themselves. There might be a sequel and I wouldn’t want to give anything away. What are you working on now with your writing? Your activism? In 1981 I compiled a second edition of The Male Homosexual in Literature: A Bibliography, which amazingly is still the standard listing of classic gay fiction, poetry, drama and memoir in English. I’m now scribbling away compiling a supplement. Your stories read like a memoir. Are they true or fictional? I can only say that they are a mixture of fact and fiction—like all stories.
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“Tan Lines In Space” by Marc DeBauch
Graybeard Abbey by Jim Wise
Graybeard Abbey: Metaphors, Mumblings, and Meditations, by Gavin Geoffrey Dillard. The LA Times dubbed him “the Naked Poet.” Taking a cue from Allen Ginsberg, that poets should stand naked before their audiences, Gavin Geoffrey Dillard would strip down to skin and read poems that were strange, incompatible things. He sang of opposites that could not exist in the same place at the same time. God and sex collided in the same lines, and yet, like Merlin’s mythical cave, these opposites met and found resolution. Decadent sensuality seduced holiness (or the other way around) and gave birth to something seldom seen in the world: Art that was truly original. In his latest collection, Graybeard Abbey, Gavin draws on his six decades of living to produce a work unlike any that he has written before. No longer merely the child of Whitman, Dillard shows himself to be the true heir of Blake, Rumi, Laozi ... Having wandered for years, gathering experiences from the California Coast to Maui, the bard has settled into life on a small tea farm in Black Mountain, North Carolina. These poems reflect this simpler life. The songs are short bursts of emotion and truth dug out of the soil of mountains. Consider:
face is now etched with life, the dark mane now a prophetic white, though the body seems untouched by time. Reading the poems in this new collection, one is left with the feeling that the Naked Poet has returned. He has divested himself of every article of clothing but, unlike the younger man he was, he has not stopped with cloth. He continues to undress before us, dropping even the flesh to let us glimpse what is shining beneath. Graybeard Abbey: Metaphors, Mumblings, and Meditations is divine seduction, the work of a man who has trafficked with angels, and it shines through the words on the pages. One is left with the impression that, after a thousand lovers, in the end, only an erotic God can crawl into bed and satisfy.
It is erotic, this Love, for it touches every part of me, in a way that no lover ever has. That said, donít be shy, if you see anyting you like, come, pray with me! The old theme of love is there, and the same wink and seduction, like an old friend, but the feeling has evolved from the younger Dillard. There is a maturity, a grace, a wisdom that shines through these poems like light from a flickering campfire. It can be very difficult to give up that for which we were first loved, and, letís face it, while Dillardís early work was brilliant and inspired, it was that face and that mane of dark hair and that body that would have made Michelangelo weep that first drew us in. The flesh was the opening act that made us pay attention. I saw him recently. The
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From Graybeard Abbey by Gavin Geoffrey Dillard
I feel safe when it rains, nothing can get me when it rains; thunder rumbles the house, but lightning never strikes; creeks flood, rivers rise, but we live on a ridge. Guests don’t come knocking when it rains, Jehovah’s Witnesses lay low; burglars don’t rob houses, the federales don’t storm your doors when the weather is inclement. When it rains, I know where all the cats are—inside; when it rains, soup froths on the stovetop. When it rains my gardens gurgle, the devas sing, the eaves harmonize, and the trees scratch heaven’s belly. In Valhalla, in Valinor, in Hy-brasil and Shangri-La it must rain every day; in heaven we abide safe, for there are always clouds; angels’ feathers repel and protect. It’s not that I resent the sun, I just don’t like it always prying into my business; my hair curls when it rains.
The woods in winter: Dragons leave scars on the trees and disarray among the lilies in the pond; unicorns, ever evasive, are caught only in the perimeter of the eye, their delicate hoofprints swiftly swallowed up by damp leaves and sand. Elves and faes have retired to their deepest dens; even Nessie sleeps dreamless in the black and cold water. The cats, with their heightened sense of fancy, imagine and stalk creatures as yet undisclosed. 34 RFD 172 Winter 2017
Stumbling up the trail to build the evening’s fire, I reach down and pluck, from decaying flora and prickly vines, a treasure of no small magnitude: a lone phoenix feather, portent of the demise of summer.
Following a heron down into the woods, I have a hunch why the koi are decreasing in number; winter leaves are down, trees in repose—who ever knows whether there will be a spring? In my mind I am always numbering my cats—anyone unaccounted for and I pace the farm like a madwoman paces the beach, awaiting her husband’s long lost ship to port. A Chinese sage once said: Never refuse wine unless you are already drunk; drunk all the time now, I stand wideeyed and sober, shovel-in-hand, happily moving shrubs and trees about— yet ever aware of the graves I have had to dig, and will surely dig again. Come New Year’s I’d committed to reading prose again, reading and rereading the classics; but I’ve already started with Isherwood, a friend and mentor for almost 20 years and one of the finest prosists in the English language—it is a
shame to have not read his entire canon— then on to Joyce, Wolfe and Tolstoy, men I would have loved to have known. But in reading an intro about Chris by Gore Vidal, another departed friend, I find myself weeping and have to put the book down—we live in a realm of loss and sorrow.
Sometimes, in the high poplars, the Moon may perch for hours, flinging stars and comets to the ground, while denizens of the darkened forest pick up their flutes and drums— and neighbors sleep blissfully unaware. Sometimes, the clock stops moving altogether, and within that stillness all becomes Perfectly Clear.
Out on the lawn roses still have buds, perfect summer buds frozen in form; it may be too late to bloom again, but the blossoms of spring haunt in perpetuity and are always there for the recalling. So it has been for ten trillion years, since the first bud opened—like a book— and the story of creation began to unfurl.
There is a drunkenness that gin cannot alter, there is a sobriety that requires bare feet and laughter; there is a craziness that stays the heart, and a love that crushes mountains. Here at Graybeard Abbey, the winter wind sprouts up though cracks in the floorboards, cats dominate furniture and petition more logs upon the fire; on a starry night, the mountains gleam silver surrounding— on a starless night there is a brightness that obliterates shadows. There is a peace that comes with cat on lap and a book in hand, and there is a peace that levels battlefields; all I have is all I want, and all I want is what I have— the madness of the world stops at our fence. Photograph courtesy author.
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“Love Looks Not With The Eyes” by Jan Ziegler
Cruising Utopia by Emanuel Rubero
ruising Utopia by Jose Esteban Muñoz (2009), sets the groundwork for the reader by arguing that queerness needs to be discussed from a utopian standpoint in queer discourse. This is to say that in our current political/social atmosphere is an erasure of all that is queer and thus to look into queer futurity we must adapt the queer discourse from gay assimilation pragmatic to one of queer futurity and queer utopia. Muñoz, a Cuban-born American queer theorist, utilizes the concepts of anticipatory illumination, gesture, staging, etc., to discuss the queer cultural production around the time of Stonewall in 1969 and his own personal lived queer experience. (pg 3) He analyzes these concepts from the aspect of Marxian philosophy; more specifically, he focuses through the lens of philosopher Ernst Bloch to discuss and dissect the theories of utopia, queerness, and hope among other clear critical aspects in this book. To further build upon the Blochian discourse, Muñoz utilizes the idea of hope as a methodology; in other words, hope as a backwards glance into the past to establish a future thereby taking a glimpse into utopia that is not-yet-here but is on the horizon. Muñoz divulges his insights to the state of queerness within the confines of ten chapters and each chapter builds upon the next to give the reader a notion of the queer utopian potentiality. We are shown that queerness (Chapters 1, 3 and 8) does not yet exist as modern LGBTQ
movements focus on gay assimilation politics. Queerness, therefore, is perceived as horizon, that which is not in the present and steps outside of the temporality of straight time allowing it to experience far more than what modern gay politics allows. (p32) Muñoz further examines queer performativity and a performance to the homonormative role in society that assimilates to the hetero-reproductive ideal. Utopia is therefore the negation of the clear queer performativity in society which points “to what should be.” (p64) The need for this is evident, queer aesthetics in art acts as a “Great Refusal” of the performative principle that prescribes our heteronormative roles in society. (p133) Furthermore the need for ornamentation is crucial as it helps to see past the limits of the performative principle, people suffer as a result from its surplus repression. The performative principle is therefore regarded as the queer failure (chapter 10), this is to say that what is queer does not flourish in heteronormative temporality, queer failure is deemed as failure because it rejects normative values in heteronormative society. What is queer fails in heteronormative temporality, thus queer is used to “delineate the bias that underlines straight times measure.” Thus, queer virtuosity speaks of potential transformations, potential to escape; an exit. This type of virtuosity brings to life that which can allow the audience a way to become part of another world; their escape. (p177) The next major concept of the book illumiRFD 172 Winter 2017 37
nates the need for a new mode of collectivity to critique that which is against queer utopian ideality. One such mode is the powerful invocation that is the queer feeling. (chapter 4) Feelings of loss, hurt, and ridicule but also those of ecstasy and happiness that we experience and that connects us. (p68) Here we see an alternative for of collectivity that ready to connect those who are queer through a shared experience which we see codified in chapter 7 by means of intermedia, a concept that everything is everything or alternative modes by which the queer utopia can create connections from one person to another outside of common structures of family, groups, and hierarchies. The importance of queer collectivity in modern queer utopian discourse is seen as paramount to bring what is notyet-here; a queer utopia. Furthermore, we come to understand the power of gesture, here asserted by dancer Kevin Aviance, that carries female beauty, historical context, and euphoric escape. An escape from the prescribed roles within society’s gender binary that many queer struggle with everyday. Commodity fetishism, which concerns concealment and illusions, are seen to be employed by those who, like Kevin Aviance, bring out the ecstasy that is queer utopia through performance on the stage. (p78) Chapter 6 continues this direction on its reflection on the term the stage; juxtaposed with the “stage” that parents imagine their kids are going through when they are in fact queer. This stage is utopian performativity that is also ideality that has potentiality which never disappears to serve as a conduit for knowledge and feeling other people. (p99) These feelings allow for the interconnected mode of collectivity that Muñoz describes in chapter 7. 38 RFD 172 Winter 2017
n conclusion of Muñoz’s Cruising Utopia, he discusses the concept of ecstasy and how we must take ecstasy together, which is to say that we must further experience what is produced through queer production (that which causes this ecstasy, i.e. the queer performance) collectively to develop a more cohesive concept of queer utopianism and collective dissatisfaction in the heteronormative political sphere. Muñoz uses the quotidian in our daily lives to bring about a collective critique of current queer movements and gay assimilation political agenda. This collectivity has queer potentially which can be seen as queer utopian ideality. This queer utopian ideality is an amalgam of the past (the not-yetconscious), the present, and the future (the notyet-here). Thus, through the various modes of art, gesture, and world-setting that utilizes that which is quotidian, historical, and introspective, invokes a mode of collectivity through queer feelings by which the queer collective can critique modern LGBT movements and the performative principle by which queers in heteronormative society are subjected to. This is the focus of Muñoz, the need for the critique of queer utopian ideality present in queer performance to shed light on what being queer is in the modern context that follows a homonormative assimilation pragmatic as to critique it in the political sphere. Bibliography: Muñoz, Jose Esteban. Cruising utopia: the then and there of queer futurity. New York: New York U Press, 2009. Print.
“David,” oil painting by Matt Bucy
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“Summer Nude” by Jan Ziegler
nahar For James & Daniel
You have brought us to the river, where we have washed. We have brought you to the river, where we wash and consecrate you both . We have come dancing, we have come singing. we have come Signing. We have come to the river together. And shall cross over the river as one. â€”David Cummer
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What is, Where is, Sex? by James McColley Eilers
e pondered the mystery of whether a person’s genitals were a part of the person. For when you make love (have sex with another person), do they in some sense become a distant figure, for they are not the same as the person you know in everyday life. Do you not identify their sexual organs as separate from them—or as a small representative of them, the doll they carry about, as if someone might choose to play with their doll? Not usually a part of daily life or the speech one uses there, sex finds available the world of contemporary fantasy, but it is also a visit to pre-history human origins where one is free to be the animal we are below all human history. We visit the pre-civilized—those first humans of which there is no recorded history. The erotic parts of humans allow a visit to the first humans, the only access we have to them. What is that cry that links us, our only shared vocabulary? And so how can the sexual parts be only a part of a present human? And no wonder that in sexual action it is not totally the presence of the present personat person an what one knows about them and how they react and respond. The sexual cry is an echo in the historic well of humanity—at least one aspect of sexual love for another being. Overlaying that is the fantastic world we project on the lover, and the memories of how they have been in your life. And so, every sexual incident might be a journey. Those who go outside a relationship for sex may feel starved for the strange that is found in a journey. How to work out the balance of strangeness and intimacy, history and presence, is the ongoing project— if one is even aware that there is a project, that sex is a complex, above and below, past and future.
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“Los Angeles Pride, 1995,” Photo by Alan Light (via Wikipedia Commons)
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Lusting for Eternity By Lucy May
ftentimes, when people cannot help but to feel they are always drowning in the sea—which is their own mental makeup, of reality—more often than not informed epigenetically by the traumatic makeup of their lives, they begin to live with only one purpose in mind. Which is to fall in love with their experience of everything. Allowing them to live in whatever world it is, they are led to believe they have chosen to create e.g. this is the first pornographic icon that I sent in—as Mary Magdalene in ideation, to whom I’d like to call Lord Henry. But this same sentiment, of an all-inclusive love: can be unpacked into more meaning however, than the mere rhetorical reflections we are so used to often hearing: perpetually circling around in this day and age—of late stage, modern day capitalism i.e. it is what it is; we will see when we see etc. Rather, this purpose is more religious in its meaning and tone, and more similar to lines engraved within the commonly known, Gloria, Glory be to the Father poem i.e. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Meaning—when one cannot break free—from the economic chains of, their own reality: clasped around their wrists, to supposedly tell the time—they will sever themselves free—and serenely, by surrendering themselves to, a solipsistic sense of divinity: serendipitously smiling back at them, wherever they have decided to have been chosen to be seen. So that they can kneel in heaven’s flames: with rapture inviting across their face—having discovered the secret, to a holy infernal love, and sense of spirituality: unfolding within everything. The shrine above: stretched of course, so I could display larger the result being made, when Art stretches past the point of a body’s breaking—its resolution that is. Because after the Lord had spoken to me about my pet name Lucy May being too sweet to be sullied by being listened to, (by which he meant, feminine) I told him I would prefer to go by then the name I would carve into my left thigh three days later: which was Dorian Grey. Which now shines whiter and brighter than I ever did, when I am cold. Unfurling as if they were petals: the thin silver blades the world had gifted me, from the hotel razor I had crushed under my feet—thus transforming my self harm into a child’s game i.e. He loves me,
Photographs courtesy author.
He loves me not, He loves me! (This nice of complimentary was as new to me as the DoubleTree chocolate chip cookies, served warm in the soon to be crumpled white bags in the hotel’s lobby like living room—as was later allowing the Lord to use an identical shaver, where the light had never been seen). But the other reason I went to New York needs to come into play, before I can lose myself while playing with myself in this story that I cannot let die (because it lives inside of me). And the reason is the Lord. Because he provided me the structure from which I was able to understand: what happened to me in New York and Amsterdam, and why it took me seven months, multiple and conflicting health diagnoses, a rejection and an acceptance of: modern day pharmacology, and a pilgrimage to Peru—to lose everything I once thought I had needed, in order to be happy—and the next year, to learn how to pick it all back up again. “Economics cannot be considered a science. It is a technology whose aim is the transformation of time into labor, and labor-time into value, and the transformation of our relation with nature into of scarcity, need, and consumption.” —Berardi, The Uprising, p. 76. I have added above: below my body’s libation— and what is now, this story’s only quotation (for in the first draft, lived Heidegger in his perpetual pondering of Essence, Bataille and his comparison of ritual sacrifice, with divine love, and David Foster Wallace: whose essay entitled “Big Red Son” was what gave me the courage to seek out the love I still so ardently seek) another photograph, of everything I honestly and accidentally snuck through the airport on my first trip to New York City. Where it all became like an ouroboros—or a prayer, as when I smoked that third night what I had confidently bought on the street, it made the shower dreamier and dreamier as I continued to bare my soul to reap. The cold metal hearts on my phallic like Osiris pipe spelling: I, Love, and [blank]: faded by my thumbs always frantic haste). It is important to note however, that Berardi’s concern in his book The Uprising: On Poetry and Finance is less the European collapse than its RFD 172 Winter 2017 45
cause—which he refers to as: semio-capitalism: that is, social production predicated on the production of signs—which are symbols once more removed, from our already referential economy. He begins by introducing the idea of “Deregulation”: an idea first conceived by Rimbaud in his pursuit of a new poetic language—where words can escape their usual meanings—and mean whatever you want them to; meaning, that reality is to be created by your impressions of—rather than from any real connection to: e.g. the word “love” can mean whatever you want it too (or, debt). He goes on to explain that after Nixon freed the dollar from the gold standard, the USA began to embark upon some never fixed and “aleatory” [random] economic poetry; for after any possibility of measurement ended, even being able to determine the average amount of time necessary—to produce a human good, human desire and the economy made love to create a child thus called, and not ironically—your lifetime: in which all of your time has to be connected to, (even if it’s in the rejection of— as recreation is a necessary reprieve for the sake of finance) financial endeavors. For the economy has replaced human desire as if it were a changeling—intending to colonize our world into fantasy, by transforming our bodies first into fantasia. Because the only way to determine value, once we have literally signed away our ability to do so— with our lives, and even encouraged others to do so—as I did do, when I urged another newbie in the adult industry, to sign all of the paperwork he was shaking when he signed, because as I told him: he’s never had anything to worry about in his entire life really—because he wasn’t even real: eyes twinkling, ending in a drum roll cascading into bombastic confetti, when I said and I quote:“ it will become but waterlogged paper soon: unfurling what was first 46 RFD 172 Winter 2017
folded into those paper flowers, by some much too young baldheaded heart of gold, in a hospital somewhere for the dying dude,” there is only one more thing we can do in the real interest in making our lives more meaningful—which is to use violence, to give us more time. Like a cauterizer sealing the distinction between our biological referent: à la our physical flesh and blood, live giving body, and the mask of our career like metaphors for self: which once was, what once upon a time we used to call our working time, and or, our art. Merge the two, and you will never be unhappy I told myself. For whenever a world is broken apart—or sealed, it cannot help but to create something new. When I ask myself, whether I was hurting myself because I needed to recalibrate my brain, to find the anagram of pleasure within pain, that that hurt had been intended to produce— which felt worse, than death marauding through the heavens inside— which was what happened, when my life the world will call an engagement with my girlfriend— did die—or whether the cell phone photo I had taken of my left leg: celestially shaking in the warm shower—in which in only it, felt cleansed—was all for the sake of a story, I no longer have a choice in whether or not to write—in order to make my soul screaming, sound like beauty healing, I do not have the answer, as I still turn the red pool into what rains pretty like pain: covering everything like a spider web caught, in mourning’s opalescence like dew. And that is the tragedy from which this comedy of errors can thus be allowed to continue. Because I can only spill laughter, where I have so often cried—if I ever want to be someone whose life’s sole purpose isn’t to heal everyday: where he once broke up with himself inside—leaving himself alone, and so terrified. Photographs courtesy author.
Because after I had been fondled and fluffed, and had what felt like my heart injected with a hardening serum: more than once, and was forced to watch another cast member’s boyfriend attempt to do, what I had already given up hope on—which was finding any residue of life—left inside me, there was only one thing the Lord decided that could be done, after I spent over an hour locked inside a bathroom no longer dreaming; for the raincloud like showerhead’s reservoir of life affirming water, had been drained completely too—by which I mean warm, as the cold always wakes us up considerably to what we refer to as, reality. I was sitting down: longingly looking out at the window as the Hudson River sluiced while snowflakes of melting snow sliced into it, when I felt myself be turned around by a gentle but powerful hold on my right shoulder, so that I could turn to face the man who had come to teach me: what only love, can truly make possible—him: wearing my European brown unfurling like a flower turtleneck I had worn for the photo shoot beforehand, in which I was robed in only his raiment: too bright to perceive—or for him to expose (because my clothes were once again, yes: something reminiscent of what we mentally derive from our experiences of, tenderness). And when the Lord kissed me; bit me; put his entire mouth within mine really—like the heart of a hot cherry tart wiggling, and curled his claws around my face: slowly, like only a lover should— and looked within my eyes, deeply—so as to create that sense of infinity: like only a lover could, I began to push him away—which seemed to hurt his face, until I saw the light emerge from within his own eyes reflecting back from mine, which held onto my heart—and allowed him thus to continue. And the rest of the scene I cannot even call history; for in war, veterans will be the first to tell you that reality is the first thing that loses its seams—before it becomes but nightmare: interlaced with only madness singing. But because I was graduating University with an English degree, when it was as possible to separate your life from reality—as it was your desires and what the market has convinced you, that you are— this fear coinciding, and perhaps even encouraging with what was already a lack of a biologically stable personality, my own attempt to make waves as I attempted to make my own way into this world, I was far too familiar with the likes of philosophers like Berardi: who was paid to play with words while they created worlds, that I could never fully trust —because they never had been tested, and been experi
mented upon. Which was what I then set out to do for my senior thesis entitled Morality and Aesthetic, in which I aimed to remove the boundaries of what had always and honestly been, really a relationship between the two—a passionate love affair, really. But while his already published words, filled my writing for the sake of grabbing onto already established approval—they began to echo in my ears, like a prayer said throughout my years in Catholic School, as they then took on a life of their own and became the perfect soundtrack for what I had already decided upon, had always been in the process of being made into art—by consciousness itself, always making an internal map of the reality by which it first navigates what it feels to be true, residing within our hearts. But what I loathe the most, about what comes next—isn’t even the absolute illegality of the situation (in more ways than one); or how the Lord’s love was transposed by me, towards someone I still love; rather, it was the detail that I couldn’t help but to notice as I tore up inside, when I watched myself watch—what everyone else in the room had also stopped to see, which was what the Lord had not yet attempted to do that day with anyone else—that was sincerely and technically, working—because it did work, while I was consumed by the light so bright it was blinding towards what created my new definition of love: which was lit up in the fluorescence like glory—like a dandy lion seeking the sun, so that I could come out on the other side ready to finish the experiment, that I could not finish—until it was as it was in the beginning, when life had officially begun. All I can remember is playing with my body as if it was a marionette, in a cave full of perpetual darkness—lit only by a weak flame, which was my heart’s once frantic pace: having serenely slowed. My soul’s strings became tangled, when I tried to make the imitation of my body dance—while sitting down, and I was never able to unwound the mangled strings as I continued to use them—to drag my body ‘round upon the stage made into sheets: which felt so soft and so cool, against my knees brushed red by the heat. Sticky serum was thrown upon my chest like holy water—paper flowers: blooming into memories of my Father do the same, but only on holy days: of obligation—because the only liquid left inside of me—was made up of salt, and had already turned my bronzen face into a ruddy countenance of fallen dreams. My fingernails left love across my palms, because they couldn’t break the Turin sheets—no matter how hard they tried, and because I had trusted my brain now kneeling in the hands of RFD 172 Winter 2017 47
fate well equipped—there was only one thing left I could do—so as to prevent the pain that causes an eternal breaking, from erupting anymore inside. So I snuffed out the light from within my chest, and as the audience of myself exclaimed in the darkness: well, that is when I learned how to fly—so as to take to the sky—from where I couldn’t feel love again, for a very long time. Which is that which gives us the want to illuminate, our most beloved of forking like paths—within our chancel lamp’s eternal like flame (that can never really be an appropriate metaphor for our brain) in the art of, mentally engraved: spiritual ergonomics— and thereby, that which composes everything—and or, the economy. Our scene bled into the men’s imitating angels in perpetual watch, and they were forced to use artificial light within the hotel room, we were forced to sneak into—because there was not enough natural light left, when I had left— completely dismissing the Jimmy Johns styled catering on the table I had been longing for, the whole day. Because I had been encouraged—never forced, not to anything (both verbally, and by the enemas clearly displayed. Which I wish I didn’t have to tell you, was a penetration my body didn’t need in what had already become its refrain). I left my belongings upstairs too, which forced an entourage to come and conceal me—because I had already forgotten the room number, while my body still barely hanging onto its skin: made its way back up again—where I could no longer watch, what was taking place—as I could no longer discern the moans from my own body’s screaming and celestial’s writhing grace. So 48 RFD 172 Winter 2017
my medial prefrontal cortex and my anterior cingulate cortex—with my amygdala no longer tagging along, up and flew away, so as to avoid the descent inlaid within another stairway, making my already narcoleptic knees—buckle, oh so wrong—from whence I fumbled down and shattered my mind for enough time, to seriously consider suicide—but by some divine and undeserved act, of love grace and fortitude, it was given back its favorite ability to create—and thus has emerged even greater—with a vengeance for only forgiveness, and has allowed me to sing one of my favorite stories, like Assia Djebar writing in the language of her oppressor, in her Fantasia: An Algerian Cavalcade. I, like probably you, did not heed the urgings within Berardi’s words. Rather, I found it more fun to contradict them—as any artist should, by trying to find the humanity within a man whose home office was adorned within his living room, by many a glass crevice of orchid drowned, working men, naked men imprisoned within paint, and a statue of King Solomon—on whose neck dangled a shark tooth: dangling above his seraphic seal —and who had been placed in such a way, that his placement imitated Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia: in that, when the sun rose diffused throughout the window: wafting in like an early morning ghost, and past the three maple trees whose interiors were singing in front of the church bells ringing outside, it cast over his entire body: a blanket of spangling fire—but briefly resembling butterflies, before it passed over him completely, and covered the ceiling in dawn fawning gold. Rather, I said like Samson—that they could
cut my hair—and do with my body whatever that needed to be done. Which did include: a furious brushing of dead skin from my lips with a toothbrush to complete the metamorphosis I had always dreamed of, into someone who was finding a metaphorical style of life, in which they could stay forever connected to the world—so as to be able fund a lifestyle of art, they would never then be able to stop making. The thought that I wouldn’t have to become but a fighting roach was really a Lolita Beetle, wouldn’t come until much later when I paid more attention to the detail, rather than affection feigned and put on for. Which is why I carry that author around with me everywhere—as if his words were holy, sliding snugly into my self-made inside leather bound pocket, after snapping open. I sent incriminating emails concerning the Lord the next day, because the morning after I had told him I was worried that I didn’t feel well—and that I had just wanted to go home, he had one of his employees print off for me what would have been equivalent to my plane ticket, had it not been already paid for—not that I ever actually asked what the payment would be—I had always been doing it for the sake of, my life’s story. We fought verbal battles with proxy lawyers who never actually met; I threatened to end him whose name is May Lucius; he said he was recording everything, etcetera, and when the news that my flight was snowed in, along with the airport not providing accommodation, the souls reflected from my favorite musicians: Ludovici Einaudi and Zoe Keating saved me from a complete breakdown—because I was leaving, still connected to where I had landed. So I texted a man whom I had already texted when I had first arrived, who had always been my backup plan—should I be unable to successfully write, and who was honestly what I had thought was the only source of redemption in this story, until that very night—when he had insisted Photographs courtesy author.
with much sincerity, and an offering forth of much kindness: to please, just take off all of my clothes, so he could help soothe with his hands: what his heart never could never fail to disclose: which was technically true—that is, what he did and didn’t do (on a side note, but an important side note me thinks; when he picked me up in a taxi all we talked about on the way to Manhattan, was about how cab drivers make such a desperately lonely living, that getting off on strangers’ stories—is of course their most favorite thing to do; and that you can never quite get them to quote unquote, just shut up, while he played with my fingers like how you would pet a pet mouse—the driver I swear I could hear whimpering, but it could have just been the wipers—for it was raining, while he very slowly closed the screen. But he would also read me The Alchemist, when I couldn’t fall asleep—crying within the city frozen that also couldn’t weep. And when I was perusing through his bathroom, with floors that he had mentioned would someday be heated underneath: like those Stucco Marl Porcelain tiles, imitating concrete—that would be so much more beautiful however, if they were inlaid with stained glass—so that the heat coming from underneath: could illuminate through in its reassurance of heat, whilst covering the ceiling and its walls in reflections of: shards of, this celestial masterpiece, he noticed me noticing the walls broken down in shambles, and just waiting to be restored, by any ferocious darling who he said and I quote, could just get a job walking dogs down the street, as a barista or an anything really—so long as they could clean, there was only one detail I would hold onto: which was a small wooden plaque of Catherine of Siena that said, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” I do regret having to tell you however—to make this confession complete—that I told him I thought I was the most beautiful person that I had even seen. But I have always equated beauty with death, and with death, evolution—and the only meaning I have ever found in life, in in the constant rewriting of RFD 172 Winter 2017 49
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Photograph courtesy author.
their evolution. More of that story can be read in my messages, alongside various emails and WhatsApp conversations. After I had gotten back from New York City, I almost missed my graduation; for the night before I had been crying through the streets of Saint Paul, while on a frantic phone call to my brother—to whom I had confessed, I was pacing back and forth on the highest bridge in the beloved city of my birth, in winds that made the bridge’s hinges groan in what I could only describe at the time, as the most beautiful sounding of hymns—within the city’s like Phantom symphony: that was calling to me—to where the pain could finally stop, and where it wouldn’t ever matter if my feelings ever returned—because they and everyone else along with them—who had ever hurt me: including me, and even the closest friends in my friend family—and my family too, would be forever gone, forever and ever too. So I told him I let fall: as I looked incessantly for a parking spot I could never find, everything that I had ever cared for, from my backpack which felt like my soul upturned inside: i.e. the first Bible I had ever received, the first draft of my heart’s healing I could no longer finish, and the pillow strings I still kept from our private engagement, from a frozen beach in the North shore. The little streams of saltwater: flowing through my hand’s folding: urging them to float, was the very same water in which they would drown, before they became even softer. That is, before they became words. Love. Love is what I had said the Lord had come to teach me. Love is the only word left I really ever care to talk about anymore—for it is concealed by death, concealed herein by change too. For when I first arrived, I was told we would all be tested— which in my wild imagination, meant like, by a doctor tested. Rather, we all given a form to sign when we first arrived—Scout’s Honor, and an OraQuick: the very brand telling anyone to be seen by a doctor or clinical staff if we wanted the accuracy of medical results—oh, and the Lord’s speech on HIV prep that him and his partner whom he hadn’t neglected to share was indeed HIV positive, did use.
the Lord risk untold of suffering, onto the lives of performers onto whom he has created? That question has always remained unanswered, until I looked in the mirror when I arrived home. For a mirror reflects that which two can only create. But I wasn’t satisfied with the parallels that I could find between myself and any other person; I wanted to experience fully, and experience with intimacy: what was behind those worlds, which refracted all of my different reflections. So I climbed inside the looking glass, and therein I found my answer. And I haven’t been able to look at the world, without love, ever since. For it was the same reason, I would risk the life of the girl I was currently seeing: who had always counseled me, whenever I needed my tears to be tapped through the telephone—unto whom, I had proclaimed yes—when she asked me if I was sure that I was safe, in all forms of health. For if she were inextricably wound by a wound, which couldn’t help but to ensure our together—she would learn how to love, truly: the darkest side of me: which was how much I loved my life, and the everything I was willing to do to create an eternal debt called death—that only love can forgive, within it residing. She would become the first person then—aside from myself, who would come to know and love all of the hairs on my body too. Especially if it meant, that wound would lead us into a lusting for eternity, far too soon—so we wouldn’t ever have to be alone, when we were consumed by the ocean like waves by the light which makes up everything—and were thus allowed the sacred opportunity afforded to everyone: to briefly and intimately understand, the divine plan masquerading as form within this world—which once upon a time, had been my absolutely favorite thing. Until I came to the conclusion the writer was a shaman—whose kindest act is commercialization, and that I would have to return to the rainforest someday, so that I could be reunited with my Father, and not just forgive him—but make love to him for what he has made. For when a crowd greets the gladiator, everything stops, and all you can hear is the sounds of an alleluia: roaring awake. For we are all now celebrities onto the audience of ourselves—and have been, and always will be: world without end. Amen.
But since I have been a child, I have only had one question. Which has always been: why would
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Lunacy This having been once, though once only . . . can it ever be blotted out? â€“ Ranier Maria Rilke In mildest gauzy moonlight our luminescent limbs blended amid the bedclothes where we unclothed lay two pale, marbled figures in limpid pools of moonlight lingering after our first taste of carefree, lusty play. In clearer light than twilight the little moons, our eyes, curved upward to the sky and to each other too in wordless fascination. Blue-white moonlight dusted us for magic moments, and all was still and true. But then you budged, and I saw cloud shadows sliding by like curtains closing to break our magic spell. Did we imagine in that limelight we might have our loving way, that time would never touch us? Tonight I know too well sitting alone by a graying wall, collar clutched against the chill of a bluer, moonless night, that it was only afterglow that briefly held us so.
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How Do I Smell You? after Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnet 43
How do I smell you? In countless ways. I smell you in the damp and breath and as deep into your tunica dartos as I can reach after you have left ...from what lingers. I smell you with a quiet urgency, when you return sweaty and flush from a morning run. I smell your palpitation, when you trace a flower along my bare chest. I smell your resilience as you come in from the rain. I smell you with a love I had long lost in church. I smell you with a passion that obliterates my grief like a childish wish. Today I smell you with a foolish aprehension, missing your gentle smile. For tomorrow you, if the Gods so choose, will smell best to me.
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Two Poems by Jason Roush
Whispering through snowfall, our rarely heard surf â€™s edge: the antithesis of television.
for Arthur Russell
As if any shore now is sound, as if shores are anything but, even in their distant silence. Only something to be imagined, glimpsed from train windows, then retreating into dreams. Drifting, drifting, the snow becoming water and the water across the weeks becoming snow. Standing at the shore, the sound is regular and ceaseless, across the centuries becoming nothing. Whispering into nothing, the snow and water become a white mirror, a silent white mirror of sound astride the shoreline, alongside time.
Wind whispering through cornfields, your voice a soft cry behind the cello, rolling over cave and canyon, canyons and caves, over the years and miles, until your pale face became engraved with distance, and you bounded away from home, then rebounded from coast to coast, settling in the most populous city where you could hide, lurk, pick out what you needed from each magic song, songs that kept you alive and breathing, until a kind-eyed man approached you, whoâ€™d seen you on the streets of that populous city three or four times, too many to be merely coincidence, was drawn to know you, then drawn to live beside you and harbor you, or try to, until your desire was overwhelming enough to compromise but not kill love, and the plague that killed so many others crawled inside you, made a home there too, made you stay at home all day and night, surrounded by your cellos and keyboards, random circuitry you whispered through, calling all kids of the future, over canyons and caves, 40 years crammed full of all you could create but intentionally never finish, hard deadline the world gave you, infinite echo.
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“Angels” by Marc DeBauch
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Two Poems by Qweaver
Like water to a thirsty soul
A little bird flicks in its cage between our love as we look on
Kissing is a way to lose myself loosening thread from thread recklessly. Hard face, of cracks, knocks, wound back to gravel, back to sediment, to water again, a boundless wash of tongue-waves, lips pagan.
Only through the darkening shadows do we perceive the little bird to be our love snared between bony bars of long-caged belief May belief break free on love’s wing
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And to find myself. Kissing, I remember kissing in the embers of an ash, in the idle spangle of summer’s town, in the uneven up- swelling of a river roaming home. Kissing is that home. And I miss it, long for the crazy gong of transference, of transgression, of tumult uncertainty rushed through every pore, skirling every bone until nothing is fixed of us, all is forgiven and away.
Even Before You Touch by Simon Perchik
Even before you touch it has lift, rushes more air over one hand and not the other though once at the controls spin is what you cling to letting the knob drag the door the way moonlight never leaves has nothing to do with skies closing in on each other half rivers, half mountainsides, half whatever you hold in your arms is stone, counts the turns and when. * A jacket could trick my arms help me forget once they leave though what I become has lips and around each shoulder both sleeves fit the way skies still overflow, break free settle down, neatened as if this mirror was still looking could hear, I don’t see you, louder. * You hover the way each memory stands by –the faintest scent breathes down your brain till its dust reeks from moonlight and you cover your arms with air holding them down, drag this table
* Heated by sand each word gathers up another one teaspoon at a time –your fever can’t be found though the address was written from salt and glass –you don’t see the envelope :the bottle crowding you from inside has to be taken by mouth as if a lull made any difference without the pieces to settle down and already your throat tastes bitter. * Once it reaches this sink the sun takes nothing back lets you place water and forever it’s your shadow wandering the Earth the way all twins are born already cold –you rinse as if moonlight were leaving it damaged, a scar would come so this cup you hold you hold twice, gropes alongside as darkness though the faucet still leaks, flows through your arms draining hillside after hillside from riverbeds and almost there.
more than enough for clouds and though nothing falls you’re sure it’s safe to exhale making room in your heart for the smell from skies and what they too wanted back.
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Fantasy by Xavier Jonson
Unicorn legends stretch back to antiquity. The Greeks, for instance, did not write about unicorns In their mythology, but in their natural history. Records show unicorns were sought after for their horns Which were believed to heal sickness and neutralize poison. Unicorns were wild and free. You could only catch one by entrapment. A young virgin was seated in an open field and told to wait. When the unicorn saw her, he calmly walked up to her, Lay down beside her, rested its head in her lap, And eventually fell asleep. What happened next is unspeakable. Balrogs are like demons. J. R. R. Tolkien invented them. They were originally angelic beings That were kidnapped by Melko, the first dark lord. He brought these angels back to his stronghold Where he used his magic to torture, twist, and mold them With fire and darkness Until they became creatures of shadow, hate, and fire. Their powers of cruelty and destruction Are surpassed only by dragons. Only a shapeshifting angel of equal power Stands a chance when fighting a Balrog. Tolkien’s notes say both powers usually die in the battle. I give this worthless information Because I have spent twenty some odd days, And wasted half of the Bankhead Forest, Trying to write a poem about what it’s like To be a gay Christian living in the Bible Belt. My parents, my church, and many others say, “Gay Christians do not exist because everyone knows God hates fags. But if He does save them, God makes them straight because God does not make gay people.”
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Sometimes I feel like I am a Balrog. There was once hope for me, but now I am a creature of shadow Risen up from the depths of the Mines of Moria Seeking to destroy everything in my path, Or to enslave it to serve my Dark Lord. Iâ€™m not gonna let these people write my story. And like any good fantasy writer I am seeking out a happy ending. I will ultimately have one because at eight I met the Man from Galilee and he adopted me. But my adoption did not break a second curse that was in store for me. I have begged and pleaded for seventeen years for him to lift the curse, And I still have faith he can lift it- because he can do anything, But I donâ€™t think he is going to do it. I have accepted that I am rare like the unicorn, But no virgin woman can entrap me. Youâ€™ll have to send in a tall dark hero With mischief in his eyes. I will lay beside him and put my head on his chest, But my eyes will find no rest. Because if he draws his sword, the battle will begin. And we will both fall over dead- again and again.
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Issue 174 / Summer 2018
AMUSE US—A MUSE US Submission Deadline: April 21, 2018 www.rfdmag.org/upload
We’re asking our readers to tell us about their muses, what amuses you, speak to the things musing in your heads. Tell us a story. We’re looking for things which will amuse but also make us muse on our lives together. We’ve spent a great deal of the last year resisting things often greater than ourselves but here we’re asking to
look inward, see where there is room to laugh, think more deeply, find the spirit in music, and let us learn about ourselves rather than things outside of ourselves. Please send us your essays, poems, songs, ruminations, artworks, photos, dance steps, recipes, reviews, fashions, hair styles, animals, nature spots, toys, subject-subjects...amuse us. RFD 172 Winter 2017 61
RFD Vol 44 No 2 #172 $11.95
62 RFD 172 Winter 2017
a reader created gay quarterly celebrating queer diversity