RFD 189 Spring 2022

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Number 189 Spring 2022 • $11.95

QUEER FARMING

RFD 189 Spring 2022

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O W Issue 190 / Summer 2022

WORDS OF POWER / MAGICAL WORDS Submission Deadline: April 21, 2022 www.rfdmag.org/upload

Language is the make of reality. Everyone has their own internal language that is a magical way of making it through the day, we make up phrases, we coin usages and we allocate ideas to things to create different ways of approaching life. In this issue, we’re asking you dear readers to consider how language, words and ideas have given you personally power in various aspects of your life—spiritually, sexually, communally, or in ways which are outside of definition, magical space, ecstasy, transformation.

Now consider how those words which you’ve chosen to assign to yourself, to your spiritual practice, to your larger circle of friends has helped widen your understanding of power. Did a disempowering word become something of power once it was reclaimed? How has that shifted recently as we’ve tended to “de-label” ourselves, take on the “I’m just me” approach while yielding away some of the power that came with associations with words of power that came with reclaiming identities, exploring understandings and taking risks with having power, yielding power and letting go.

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We also would love to hear how people have had the inverse of “power of words” to “power over words” happen in their lives. How have you, the community you are in or the people you are around shifted in how they use words. Do we self-edit, are we soft peddling “who we are” so we don’t upset people or are we shifting where we use words in our life relative to specific spaces in our lives. When did my words of power/magic become power over someone else?

How can we create a space where empowerment through words is not a way to create disempowerment for someone else? How can we challenge ourselves to see we are not always on the same path but we can share in the journey? If words are the beginnings of understanding, and understanding is the path to visioning, then where in the labyrinth have the power of words taken us?


Responsible For Dinner Vol 48 No 3 #189 Spring 2022

Between the Lines

While we here in the Northern Hemisphere are plotting our way to springtime, we are taking this issue to explore our roots in growing, tending and sustaining ourselves with fruit, vegetables and meat. We asked our readers to contribute to how being a queer and farming impacted them, lessons they have learned, ideas to share as well as people sharing their memories of garden, a piece of their rural childhood, establishing roots in a community of fellow travelers interested farming. We’re aware that so much of “normal” is still being adjusted with the COVID situation but many people are slowly trying to commune together again is safe ways, so we provide our annual gathering guide which has been absent from our pages since 2019. Please be safe, plan ahead and do check in with folks before planning a visit. We also have a number of articles about upcoming books, a new novel by Edmund White, a reissue of Gavin Dillard’s poetry book, Notes from a Marriage, which now includes photographs as well as Franklin Abbott’s introducing us to a number of poets. As the Spring awakens we here at RFD hope everyone is able to make it out to feel the dirt on their toes, to get their hands dirty planting some seedlings, re-rooting ourselves in our queer communities and nourishing ourselves for a bright summertime. We encourage all of our readers to share RFD with friends, heck buy a gift subscription, suggest they read it online—we love to be read (but in a good way). We also welcome theme ideas for upcoming issues, we want to reflect our readers interests so please be in touch if you have a theme idea. OK, stay warm, see you in Spring! From a frosty perch in White River Junction —The RFD Collective

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Submission Deadlines Summer—April 21, 2022 Fall—July 21, 2022 See inside covers for themes and specifics.

On the Covers

Front: "Dorian #1" by Eric Lanuit Back: "Nebraska", by Matt Bucy

Production

Managing Editor: Bambi Gauthier Production Editor: Matt Bucy

For advertising, subscriptions, online or printed 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: $11.95. 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 submissions@rfdmag.org 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.

Visual Contributors Inside This Issue

Images or pieces not directly associated with an article.

Chris Moody. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2, 16, 29 Eric Lanuit. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Front Cover, 9, 32-33 Emerson Gray. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Matt Bucy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Back Cover

"Life's Reflection," 2013, Maine, 35mm photograph by Chris Moody


CONTENTS Gathering Guide and Announcements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4-5 If we… . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sleigh. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Four Dirt Road Dispatches from the Salish Sea. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Adam Cappuccino, CrowDog, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Moe, robin hood . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Evolving Balance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pogo LMNO. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 35mm Photographs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chris Moody. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 A Country Boy Becomes a Faerie and Meets the Man of His Dreams: A Long-winded Country Love Story . . . . . Mark Turner. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Let’s Grow Together!. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Luke Potter. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Reflections On Being a Farmer. . . . . . . . . . . . . Albizia Kchckrhh, Zir Tartemis, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Teapot, & Twinkle Loris. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 A Fool's Journey. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Morgan Martin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 The Missing Goat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . D. Scott Humphries. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Rotational Grazing & Forest Management. . . Mike Grindemann. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 MISSIVE: New Calf. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Scott Hightower. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Love From the Mountains . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Evergreen and Miscanthus. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Gloryland—Our Forever Home. . . . . . . . . . . . Glen Morton Ganaway AKA Satyre. . . . . . 40 Not By Bread Alone: My Grandmother’s Village. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aldo. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 Queer Farming . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sigh Moon. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Flags, Pure Joy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Elliot DeLine. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 Poetic Legacies: Walter Holland, Marcellus Muthien, Don Perryman, Kevin Simmonds, C. Dale Young, Steven Reigns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Frankiln Abbott. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Flower Fag, Flower Boy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Emerson Gray. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Notes From a Marriage. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gavin Geoffrey Dillard. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 A Previous Life—by Edmund White. . . . . . . . Review by Leo Racicot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58 Crocuses, The Planting. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Raymond Luczak. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Farmer’s Son, Bareback. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Charles Springer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Memories of the D&R. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . M. J. Arcangelini . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Granny’s Kitchen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Stephen Schwei . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 Pergola. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Andre Le Mont Wilson. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 RFD 189 Spring 2022

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Gathering Guide As you can see we have a shortened list of gatherings and events for this year’s gathering guide. Below you’ll find the gathering dates we could find from contacting sanctuaries and gathering sites as well as checking www.radfae.org as well as individual websites. But please contact each gathering site beforehand as these dates could easily change or be cancelled. If you don’t see your usual gathering community then consider it still closed for gatherings or they Faerie Sex Magick 169 Kink Odyssey Blue Heron Maple Sugaring Generate Gathering Spring Community Week Queer Forestry Camp Spring Gathering Beltane Spring Love Awakening Gathering Gay Spirit Visions Spring Retreat Memorial Day Weekend Summer Retreat & Gathering Kench Hill We Here Now–Stewardship Gatherette Faerie Sex Magic Summer Solstice Gathering Faerie Sex Magick 169 Summer Splash Weekend Summer Gathering Gay Freedom Camp Movement and Mindfullness Bonobo Experience Spiritual Gathering of Radical Faeries Faerie Sex Magick 269 Faerie Sex Magick Full Spectrum GAYLA Midwest Men's Festival Sun Clad 4th Global Radical Faerie Gathering Telling Our Stories "Sound Of Faeries" After Global Gathering Summer Gay Spirit Camp Radical Rest Gathering High Close Blue Heron Gathering Bear Your Soul Faerie Tales Faerie Sex Magic 169 Tantrastic Gathering Gay Spirit Visions Fall Conference Coldwell Singles Weekend Samhain Gathering Faerie Sex Magick 169 Kink Odyssey Gay Spirit Visions Winter Meditation Alto das Fadas Faerie Tea Party Global Online Faerie K(no)w-Talent Show

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Jan 11-18 Mar 16-20 Mar 18-21 Mar 31 - Apr 4 Apr 10-20 Apr 15-29 Apr 21-24 Apr 28 - May 5 May 2-13 May 13-15 May 27-30 May 27-30 Jun 1-5 Jun 4-12 Jun 7-14 Jun 19-29 Jun 25 - Jul 2 Jun 24-26 Jun 28 - Jul 4 Jul 1-5 Jul 1-3 Jul 2-10 Jul 3-10 Jun 7-14 Jul 9-16 Jul 16-23 Jul 19-28 Jul 25-31 Jul 26 - Aug 4 Jul 26 - Aug 2

were not in touch with RFD in time for publication. Every community needs your support, so please consider being in touch with them to see if they have needs outside of the gathering where they need support – work weekends or fundraising needs given these difficult times. Meanwhile there are several online heart circles, talent shows and virtual events, we recommend looking on either www.radfae.org or www.faenet.org for details.

Spain www.faeriesexmagick.org Greenwich, NY www.eastonmountain.org DeKalb Junction, NY sites.google.com/site/blueheronfaeriehome/home Saratoga Springs, CA www.generategathering.net Ternuay-Melay-et-Saint-Hilaire, France www.folleterre.org/en/gather Ramah, NM www.zms.org Upper Lake, CA thebillys.org Ternuay-Melay-et-Saint-Hilaire, France www.folleterre.org/en/gather Paddington Farm, UK albionfaeries.org.uk Highlands, NC gayspiritvisions.org Greenwich, NY www.eastonmountain.org Angelus Oaks, CA www.CalComMen.com Tenterden UK www.edwardcarpentercommunity.org.uk Ramah, NM www.zms.org Ternuay-Melay-et-Saint-Hilaire, France www.folleterre.org/en/gather Ternuay-Melay-et-Saint-Hilaire, France www.folleterre.org/en/gather Wolf Creek, OR www.faeriesexmagick.org Greenwich, NY www.eastonmountain.org Upper Lake, CA thebillys.org Greenwich, NY www.eastonmountain.org Unstone Grange UK www.edwardcarpentercommunity.org.uk Ternuay-Melay-et-Saint-Hilaire, France www.folleterre.org/en/gather Wolf Creek, OR www.nomenus.org France www.faeriesexmagick.org Germany www.faeriesexmagick.org Ferry Beach, ME www.ferrybeach.org/gayla.html Eastern KS midwestmensfestival.com Greenwich, NY www.eastonmountain.org Estonia faenet.org/gatherings/gg4-registration Unstone Grange UK www.edwardcarpentercommunity.org.uk

Aug 13-21 Hochkonig, Austria radicalfaeries.at Aug 15-21 Greenwich, NY www.eastonmountain.org Aug 20-29 Ternuay-Melay-et-Saint-Hilaire, France www.folleterre.org/en/gather Aug 23-30 Lake District UK www.edwardcarpentercommunity.org.uk Aug 29 - Sep 5 DeKalb Junction, NY sites.google.com/site/blueheronfaeriehome/home Aug 31 - Sep 5 Greenwich, NY www.eastonmountain.org Sep 1-8 Ternuay-Melay-et-Saint-Hilaire, France www.folleterre.org/en/gather Sep 10-17 Ternuay-Melay-et-Saint-Hilaire, France www.folleterre.org/en/gather Sep 20-30 Ternuay-Melay-et-Saint-Hilaire, France www.folleterre.org/en/gather Sep 22-25 Highlands, NC gayspiritvisions.org Sep 30 - Oct 3 Burnley UK www.edwardcarpentercommunity.org.uk Oct 7-10 Greenwich, NY www.eastonmountain.org Oct 10-20 Northumberland, UK albionfaeries.org.uk Oct 22-29 Australia www.faeriesexmagick.org Nov 2-6 Greenwich, NY www.eastonmountain.org Jan 13-15, 2023 Highlands, NC gayspiritvisions.org Wednesdays 17:30 UTC / Online www.altodasfadas.org Third Saturday of each month / Online faenet.org/pages/1528-global-online-faerie-k-no-w-talent-show


Radical Faerie Global Gathering Dear Faerie Friends From Far and Wide! We are so happy to announce that we have just now officially secured a retreat center where we will convene the 4th Radical Faerie Global Gathering! Mark your calendars and please save the date! When: July 26-August 4, 2022. Where: Estonia. Of course you have many questions and we will do our best to answer them all, in due time. The official Gathering Call/Invitation and Registration will be available to you in January 2022! Faerie love to you all! G4 Team. For more info contact Hammer: terrypcavanagh@gmail.com.

Queer Forestry Camp at Zuni Mountain Sanctuary

Calling all queers interested in learning highdesert forestry practices! Zuni Mountain Sanctuary is hosting it’s first ever Forestry Camp in order to manage a major tree die-off in our region. Years of drought have made the piñon population vulnerable to the native bark beetle, causing massive swaths of trees to pass on. This first year of camp will focus on mitigating the fire risk from these deceased trees. You’ll learn (if you didn’t know already!) how to fell and process trees, build swales and other water catchment improvement techniques, and you’ll be introduced to the local plant populations by our

neighborhood knowledge keepers. We will be camped out between the outskirts of Zuni Mountain Sanctuary and it’s downtown area. It will be cold so please pack accordingly. Snow is always a possibility up in these mountains with average last frost the beginning of June. Bring winter camping gear, a pair of gloves, loppers, a hand saw, any forestry equipment you may have like chainsaws/chaps/PPE/oil and a food contribution if possible. We will be providing meals but if you are able to bring provisions that we can cook with that is very helpful! Please contact our resident kitchen witch, Spacey G ~ spacegirlg@ gmail.com to let him know of any food restrictions or allergies, and what (if any) provisions you will be adding to the collective larder. Forestry Camp will begin April 15 and go until April 29. Please arrive the day before, April 14, to get settled in. We will circle up the following morning and head to the forest together for our first lesson. Participants will be limited to thirteen with some locals in the periodic mix. Registration is required and pandemic protocols will be in effect (to be updated as needed). Priority given to folkx who can stay two weeks, all are encouraged to stay at least one week and shorter stints may be offered depending on general interest. Can’t wait to see you all there! Contact lucawalkto@gmail.com and zunimountainsanctuary@gmail. RFD 189 Spring 2022

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If we…

by Sleigh…aka Slay, Link Kin Logs, or Layard

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f we build it, they will come…Then, they will want lunch. Cuz, “Everybody Wants Lunch”, to quote our wize trancestor, Crazy Owl… If we grow it, they can eat it…without driving one hour to Safeway or Walmart in Gallup, or two hours to La Montanita Co-op, Natural Grocers, or Costco in Albuquerque. Here and Queer at Zuni Mountain Sanctuary there is the potential to grow an abundance of food by getting our collective hands dirty. Wouldn’t necessarily think it’s so possible in the remote high mountain desert at 7200 feet near the Continental Divide. Yet, by the accounts of my anthropological betters, the nomadic and agricultural cultures of the region sustained greater populations than live here now. No doubt: cultural lifeway disruption and population devastation brought to the continent since 1492…as well as the standard-of-living shitshow trailing behind this late-market capitalistic zombi economy addictively focused on materialistic accumulation while lurching towards agricultural and ecological collapse.

a couple decades...Fae have come and gone. Beds made, sporadically grown, and then laid fallow for the next gen to come along, sometimes, some years later. Buildings were built and then passed on - not always with the best of handoffs. Entropy - as ever - persists. New buildings are nearing completion in 2022 and will sustain the Sanctuary for decades to come. Though Zuni Mountain Sanctuary has miraculously continued, I can’t exactly say it has sus-

Focus creates reality. As a Steward of Radical Faerie sanctuary adjacent to Cibola National Forest - I gently walk in beauty, as best I am able - upon the lands of the A:shiwi (Zuni), Diné (Navajo), Indé (Apache), Háák’u (Acoma) and the other descendants of the Ancient Puebloans and indigeneous peoples of the region. The land beneath my feet was literally a crossing ground for the ancient ways that connected pre-colonial peoples between Pueblos, the Zuni Mountains, the El Morro Valley and Chaco Canyon. The Sanctuary was founded in 1996 and persists as a very special place for our queer rad fae culture to grow collectively in communal magic and earthy prayers. Humble humans humming to the humus. Hum. Us. Beyond the millenia, the Sanctuary’s auspices have been tended by intermittent fae gardeners for Photographs courtesy of the author.

tainably thrived. Gardening, animal transparenting, maintaining unfinished buildings, systems, running a non-profit and sustaining healthy community process on top of the cooking, cleaning, provisioning, etc…ALL takes consistent work. Stewardship has ebbed and flowed. I have lived here for five+ years in devoted and mostly joyous service. Many hands and hearts can make light and bright work. Here’s the deal folkx. The Sanctuary has one of the best quality and quantity wells in the area and can grow lots of food inside and outside of greenhouses. We are nearing completion on an 864 sq/ ft walipini greenhouse designed by community elder and local market gardener Camphor (who has sustained and paid for his farm in Taos with a profitable decades old greenhouse grow). A simple 111 sq/ft hoophouse also exists on the land and RFD 189 Spring 2022

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there are many outdoor garden beds being tended. Fallows for fellows await. The Work in Beauty Eco-Regenerative Learning Center, founded by another community elder, Owl McCabe, exists as a neighboring non-profit and teaching center for growing food in this region. “The aim of the learning center is to provide a hands

on model garden, educational outdoor classroom, and provide a living example of what regenerative practices do for the soil, land, environment - people’s health and happiness.” Root Rooting Grassroots Radical Radish Rad. Centering food culture is one crucial way our queer people can create and grow through the togetherness of collective vitality. Our spiritual ways can grow by nurturing the life that is already in the soil. We are source-erers, aren’t we? We can’t actually put money where our mouth is. 8

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It’s not nutritious. If money can’t buy love, it certainly can’t buy food once there is none to buy…Therefore, here in the Zuni Mountains - with many hands - we could offer up a unicornicopia of radishes, daikon, beets, turnips, kale, collards, chard, cabbage, spinach, mustard greens, arugula, lettuce, broccoli, tat soi, bok choi, potatoes, tomatoes, fava beans, peas, orach, sorrel, chicory, lamb’s quarters, quinoa, amaranth, oats, wheat, rye, milo, sorghum, horseradish, chives, scallions, onions, garlic, asparagus, sunflowers, sunchokes, artichokes, rhubarb, borage, elderberry, gogi berries, service berries, goose berries, raspberries, northern grape varietals, plums, apples, pears, nanking cherries, lavender, oregano, basil, thyme, sage, tarragon, hops, calendula, osha, grindelia, monarda, bisquit root, piñon, juniper, marijuana, chile, peppers, prickly pear, nopales, tobacco, squash, beans, and maize…Our topbar beehive thrives on catnip nectar and juniper pollen. I have been told that the young girls of the A:shiwi would spend part of their days with tended flocks of wild turkeys. At the Mesa Verde National Park Museum there is an exquisite example of a blanket made from stitched together turkey breast feathers. The deer, elk and antelope mix with the rancher’s cattle surrounding the Sanctuary. Given enough support this upcoming Spring/ Summer/Fall, by the winter of 2022/23 we aught to have five completed bedrooms, IF we can salvage a failing heritage building started in 1996 and put the finishing touches on new construction started in 2020. Those committed to long term stewardship will be given preference and are encouraged to arrive by summer solstice to begin a three-month visitation. Our We Here Now Stewardship Gatherette in early June will be a great jumpstart towards a solid growing season. It will continue harvesting into the late fall, winter and early spring in the completed walipini…Given current populations and various unfinished project priorities I am personally considering NOT gardening this summer because the infrastructure and maintenance needs of the Sanctuary remain an ongoing priority to attend to. Gardening is my joy. So are these beautiful buildings. With more fellows, beds can grow beyond fallow…and more beds can sleep fellows through a sublime and nutritious winter. With Love for the Communion of Stewardship, Sleigh Belle

Photographs courtesy of the author.


"Dorian 3", photograph by Eric Lanuit.

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Four Dirt Road Dispatches from the Salish Sea The Web of Life By Adam Cappuccino, Registered Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner, Botanist, Gardener

between an organism and its environment, is a dynamic exchange. Our bodies react to stimuli, recoil from suffering, and seek reward, comfort, and pleasure, like all life forms. I grow my own food when I can because it connects me to the natural world, to the turning seasons and through the cycles of time. It centres me, and connects me to the Everything that is happening. Always.

I’m a Bee Keeper By CrowDog

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y love-obsession with food started in my grandparent’s backyard garden. Having emigrated from southern Italy seeking opportunity and change, they brought with them their knowledge and traditions of growing their own food and transforming it into nourishing family meals. We’d have bowls of fresh pasta and peas after a day playing in the field. We made our own tomato sauce in the fall. I’d go out and pick cucumbers for lunch, find purslane growing between the cracks in the cement, or even collect snails after the rain for the adults to indulge in…I still find them gross! I learned that food was all around me, and that I was a part of it all. Eventually I focused my studies to the natural world, the sciences of chemistry, geology, and botany. But it was the interconnectedness of those distinct disciplines that really intrigued me. It was the ecology of the forest, the Web of Life that connects the falling apple, to the microbiology of the soil, to the robin nesting in the tree, which sparked passion. The space in between spaces, the queeriosity of how it all comes together to make Life happen, is where I am most comfortable. I think queer people have to navigate a world that doesn’t necessarily accept them as unique, diverse, and relevant. But that gives us the lens through which we can see the things others may easily take for granted and ignore. My career as a TCM practitioner has flourished because of my ability to see the connecting threads in a patient’s medical story, helping them achieve balance with their surroundings. Health, being the harmonious interrelationship 10 RFD 189 Spring 2022

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he sun is shining after a couple of cool gray days. Winter pruning fruit trees, I notice how the bees are coming back to life outside of their hives. We steward a little fruit and vegetable farm here at Echo Valley Organics, on the south-end of Saltspring Island on the Salish Sea off the West Coast of Canada. The land will soon bee buzzing with all kinds of pollinating insects, the majority of

which will be the European Honey bees. The first warm days bring out the “Ladies” for sanitation flights (i.e. poop) and newly hatched out “New-bees” in need of their ‘Orientation Flight.’ These will be the next season of nectar collectors and pollen gatherers. It’s always such a tricky time.

Upper: Adam and Kevin. Lower: Crowdog, photograph by Bruce Osborne.


Everything looks great and then the weather turns cold and wet. Without enough food the hives can die. But early spring warmth brings out the earliest flowers like snowdrops, crocus, cyclamen, pussy willows, hazelnuts and big leaf maples to support the colonies. An abundance of cottonwoods, Douglas fir, and pine trees supply loads of propolis for the colony’s health. I became a fulltime beekeeper by chance. My long-time friend Kelly (I call her my “Bee Mamma”) was tending nineteen hives and needed more forage area. By hostessing two of her hives, the orchard received better pollination and in general the plants around the valley felt more vital and abundant. Then another neighbour with unused beekeeping equip-

ment asked me if I wanted any of it. Yes! And so it began on my Birthing Day, Kelly gifted me with a full, ready to go hive of bees consisting of a fertile Queen, laying frames of brood (baby bees) and several frames of food (honey/pollen) along with some worker bees. It’s a Magical World, the World of Bees. I tell people that know me, “If I don’t answer the phone it’s prolly ‘cuz I’m out sitting with the bees having a cuppa tea”. They get it. Bees are great teachers. Living with hives now for a few years I have begun a profound journey of understanding the workings of the hive. Weather. Forage availability. Location of "Listening to the hive", photograph by robin hood.

the hives. Morning Sunshine. Evening light. And of course, pheromones. Beekeepers have an intimate relationship with their hives. They know my scent and respond to it. The first hive (I call it Number #1) I received from Kelly did very well, growing large and fast. One day last year, my darlin’ husband, robin hood sensed that the hive may swarm as they erratically flew around or crawled over the outside of their box. As I approached to investigate, they all calmly crawled back into the hive. The next day however, while my family was visiting for Father’s Day, they swarmed. As my eighty-six year-old Mom directed traffic, I crawled up a thirty foot ladder into a tree wearing my bee suit, clutching a pair of secateurs and a box to capture them in, while holding on to the ladder with my thighs, trying to stay calm so as not to disturb the swarm. We had a private conversation, the essence of which was, “Would you like to stay or go?” Once safely down the ladder, and back into the orchard where their empty hive waited, I poured them back over the frames. We now live with three healthy hives that have all made it through another winter. It’s a choice not to harvest any honey, or wax from these hives (it takes nearly 200 flights for a honey bee to make a teaspoon of honey) and so the hives live their lives as healthfully as possible in a relatively, pristine environment: hundred year old apple orchards and sheep farms, flourishing veggies and flower gardens on most neighbour’s land. People are also more informed about our lifedependant reciprocal relationship to bees. Because of environmental and economic toxicity around the world, there seems to be more effort to plant food and flowers gardens alongside beneficially mixed hedgerows. That’s good. It’s of great interest that I write with the thought of the plight of bees around the globe. So many factors affect what is going on in their world. But what strikes me as strange is that we as a species, knowing these facts, are going about our days with this information in front of us and yet aren’t able to stop the causes. During the last two years with air travel restricted the Ozone started to repair itself. We can change the negative effects of a world in trouble if and when we want. What will it take, for the way we have taken and not given back, to change? It might just bee Global food issues. Wars have been fought over because of bread and now, maybe honey. I will finish with this. The affection I have for these beautiful creatures that represent the comRFD 189 Spring 2022

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munities we could all live in, are right outside the backdoor. Everyday I walk up to them and see them in action. Living daily on an island that supports a diverse community, that is in touch with Nature, and actively discusses what is staring us in the face, all allows for great conversations around what might or could bee next. Mostly, these conversations begin with, “How’s your Garden growing?” I do love it all. Later, Crowdog xo

Moe’s Food Forest by Moe

A

food forest is a community of plants, with each plant serving a purpose that helps the greater good of maintaining a healthy ecosystem, complete with all the local reptiles, amphibians, birds, mammals and insects, and providing food and medicine for humans. This forest supports numerous varieties of food trees: apples, pears, cherries, walnuts, hazelnuts, figs, quince, pomegranate, plums, persimmon, mulberries, elderberries, Yellowhorn (Chinese macadamia), hickory. Some trees are medicinal: gingko, rowan, hawthorne. The next layer of the forest is the food shrubs: black currants, red currants, gooseberries, josta berries, aronia berries, blueberries, goji berries, and sea buckthorn berries. Some shrubs, like sea buckthorn, provide a dual function of both food and fixing nitrogen in the soil that other plants can use. Goumi and Autumn Olive do this as well. Some shrubs are for tea: Camellia sinensis and New Jersey Tea. Under and around each tree is a multitude of helpers. Some provide nectar and pollen, attracting all types of bees and wasps

(Queen Anne’s Lace, Meadowfoam, Sweet Alyssum, many more). Some are highly aromatic, providing protection by confusing the insects. Some are repel12 RFD 189 Spring 2022

lent to harmful insects (chives, bunching onion, calendula). Some provide nitrogen or minerals (fava bean, clover, comfrey). Some break up heavy soil; some provide a lot of mulch. And some are food, such as perennial roots (oca, skirret, crosnes, sunchokes), or leafy greens (mache, burnett, lettuce, cabbage, kale). Some are medicine: goldenseal, ginseng, black cohosh, calendula, fo-ti, comfrey, red clover, echinacea, and so many more. And what do I do with all this abundance? While it’s true that I eat and drink much of it with friends and family, make medicines for using myself and giving away, perhaps my greatest joy is giving away plants to other enthusiastic plant lovers. The garden itself, with all its diversity and all its critters, brings me happiness just by working with it or walking in it.

The World Needs More Lesbians by robin hood

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e have a hen who thinks she’s a rooster. She’s a bit of a loner but holds her own in the pecking order. Sappho is a handsome hen, a Rhode Island Red/Ostralop cross. She figures she’s next in line for the top job. Chester the Molester, our regular eight-year old alarm clock, sounds a bit bagged lately. I wonder if Sappho will pin down the other hens, grab the back of their ruffs, hop on and start rubbing vents. In the world of chicken sex, both females and males have vents. Maybe the other hens won’t even notice the regime change. I’m sure she’ll be as much a gentleman about it as old Chester. Despite his nickname, he’s been a grand bird. Unlike some over-jizzed young roosters, he doesn’t hassle the girls. Chester always finds, then offers the juiciest bugs, worms and occasional baby snake to his hungry flock. When an eagle or a hawk swoops into the valley he screams nelly terror. That’s his way of protecting them. When Chester says, “move!“ Those hens trade in their slow pecking waddle for a wild, panic induced run, flapping and screaming all the way home. Sappho has some pretty big chickenfeet to fill. First, however, she’s gotta practice her crowing— and preferably off-hours. Every morning this week, before sun up, I groan and bury my head beneath the pillow as this lesbian chicken interrupts my early morning dreams; rocking back-and-forth, puffing up her crop and letting out some gawd-awful racket, she sounds more like a goat being squeezed to death than an egg proud hen. As much as I respect her for scratching to her own tune, at 4:30 in the morning I

Moe and Avalina in the garden. Photograph courtesy the authors.


just want to throw an old boot at her. Then I think, changing gender expectations can’t be easy – even for a chicken. We moved to the country several years ago,

naïvely believing we could escape the ills of the world; raise chickens, plant a huge circular garden and stockpile food. We were even partially prepared against the threat of the economic collapse of Y2K. What we didn’t foresee however was colony collapse disorder. Recently, billions of bees throughout North America have mysteriously vanished. What do they know that we don’t? Scientists predict that without the bee species humans can only survive up to four years. Enough time perhaps to grieve our greedy-conditioning and hope some remnants of the human experiment carries on. Our neighbourhood apiarist shrugged off the news report as wives tales, until he opened his own hives and found them all dead. So, to temporarily out manoeuvre fear, we’ve added a new sex toy to our collection. My man CrowDog has been playing with a fine squirrel hair paintbrush with which he expertly pollinates all our fruit trees. It’s a site to see him delicately approach a flower, politely introduce himself and then start to wiggles ass. Doing his best bee imitation, he erotically dusts the flower stamen all the while making a gentle, cooing-like, buzzing noise. I think he’s enjoying having sex with all our plants. Unfortunately, at

the end of the day, he doesn’t have much juice left over for me. I guess global warming requires necessary sacrifices from us all. If I don’t get to chew on him, at least in the autumn I’ll get to eat an apple he fertilized. Curious, if not a little envious, I looked up what I had forgotten from grade three-science class. Bees exist as a matriarchal society and have long been associated with female fertility. Like some Dom/ Sub relationship, the Queen Bee sits on her honeycombed throne, mates with male drones as necessary, and directs her girls to come and go, feed her and tend hive. Amazingly, every hour she lays her own body weight in eggs. She gives and gives until she’s dead. While the Queen is often seen as the mother-lover of the hive, the bee species is such a complex social creature, that a colony can literally be viewed as a single organism. Individual bees operate as a cell of the larger organism. On their own, bees cannot survive. I wish as humans, we could adopt the same understanding of ourselves. Nature, when respected, gives and takes in perfect balance. These days, it’s hard not to see humanity as the parasite. According to the Director of the Trudeau Centre for Peace drastic changes are certain. Humanity Collapse Disorder will bring us to our knees before the realms of the mythic. We are in need of many miracles. My dream for a sustainable future includes

another year supply of beans and greens, paintbrush at the ready, and a lesbian run world rising up out of the ashes of doubt and despair. As my friend Michael says, “Lesbians have a can-do attitude.“ Like the birds and the bees, given a chance, the Dykes would get things right. This summer we won’t bother hatching another rooster. I’m putting my egg money on Sappho to keep the flock together. robertbirch.ca—originally published in XtraWest magazine June, 2007

Left: "robin in the blossoms", photograph Crowdog. Right:"Kevin and the cows," photograph by Adam Cappuccino.

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Evolving Balance Pogo LMNO

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awchips are everywhere. Between fibers in my socks. All over my truck. In my pockets. In my hair. In my underwear. Inside my pillowcase. In the corners of my eyes. Sawchips behave much like the sand where I grew up in Southern California, beach sand in my bathing suit, or desert sand blown into my tent and mouth. The persistent grit of tiny pieces of stone, haphazardly battered since before Time, crushed and ground into tiny little pieces faintly resembling the once fluid and later hardened boulders and plutons they once composed. Only sawchips are deliberate, human. I was born and lived my first twenty years in the conservative white-flight suburbs east of Los Angeles, which was about as hospitable a place for me to grow as the concrete lined “wash” behind my house was for the plants that had evolved to grow in the rocky, seasonal riverbed coming out of the mountains. Not impossible, but certainly limiting. And so my understandings of Nature, of Queer, of Love were necessarily narrow and basic. Much like the banks of that riverbed, which could only muster annual herbaceous plants rather than the sycamores, cottonwoods, willows, perennial flowers and grasses that might have been, there were entire parts of my own ecosystem missing. Absence is much harder to account for, but it can be a strong motivator. I had pretty lofty ideals when I left Southern California: to be In Nature, to Live with the Land, to be an Environmentalist! Identifying Thems I would Us against: Loggers. Politicians. Corporations. Meat Producers. Well-intentioned as they were, none of those notions had an especially well-rooted foundation and much of it was as woefully under-defined as it was vigorously impassioned. So I spent a few years in environmental studies, working in salmon habitat restoration, planting thousands of trees, and constructing trails. Gradually I was seeing how much more there was to understand. I moved to Vermont for a job, but stayed because of the local queer and Destiny faerie communities. Because I found my partner, Gavy. Because I found a community which helped me see how art and design can inform the choices we make to benefit the land and natural communities, the importance of appreciating performance and art and how these tools can transcend divides that might otherwise 14 RFD 189 Spring 2022

not be crossed. I have such a sense of connection here to both land and community that I intend for this to be where I stay. Gavy and I raise goats to help restore the pastures and forest edges that had been neglected since the late ‘60s when the farm was subdivided into the neighborhood where we live. Currently we have five goats: Divine, Fosse, Lainey (Stritch), Liza, and Goblin. Our barn cat, Lentils, certainly spends enough time snuggling and grooming the goats to lead us to believe he may self-identify as a goat with exceptional climbing skills. We raise chickens for eggs and meat and to build the health of the soils. We’ve been slowly and steadily working a vegetable garden that is producing more food each year. We’re building a farm with queer love, growing enough to nurture ourselves and our community, and create life. Meanwhile my ‘professional work’ has shifted into territory that I know the idealist who dreamed of such a home life would surely find problematic. I earn a living for part of the year by cutting down trees. I’ve cut fruit trees out of orchards. I’ve peeled the bark of paper birch trees before logging to source material for artisans and artists. I’ve spent summer and autumn with an herbicide filled backpack-sprayer on my back, gun in hand, on a seek-and-destroy mission for non-native, noxious/ invasive plant species. I trade my labor helping with a neighboring farm’s annual turkey slaughter in exchange for use of their equipment for slaughtering the chickens we raise at our homestead. I’ve volunteered to help slaughter lambs with a friend as a litmus test to see whether I can actually be present for slaughtering mammals, a necessary facet of raising sheep and goats for ecosystem restoration. Death. It’s in the itches caused by the sawchips. It’s in the warmth from the woodstove. It’s in the spot of blue on my boot and the cuff of my pants from the indicator dye for the herbicide mixture. Death is pervasive enough in my daily life that I frequently wonder whether I’ve completely compromised the principles of the idealist I once was. But all that death is only part of these stories and ignores the far more important reasons that idealism ignores. The space in the canopy created by thinning overstory trees can create the conditions for thousands of seeds to sprout and grow. Fruit trees need


pruning to grow optimally. Introduced plants overtake natives in much the same way European settlers did Indigenous peoples on this continent, with similarly disastrous results to balance, to functioning ecosystems, to the ability of the land to continue to thrive. I love the forests I work in and the animals whose lives and deaths I have been part of. I am responsible for the long term health of the land I work and live on. That love and commitment require that I think through as much of the web of interconnection as I am able to. To do what I do I am constantly confronted by the evolving balance between appre-

Photograph courtesy the author.

ciating what has been while making space for and helping create an opening for what should or could be. To see and acknowledge the need for disruption and complexity, those most foundational attributes of what is meant when we invoke Nature, and what we overlook or dismiss when we irreparably destroy. As I follow this path, I keep finding other queers who are doing similar work, constantly searching for intimacy with Land and Nature. We’re rediscovering ancient truths hidden in words like Sacrifice. We’re coming to deeper understandings as we begin to see the whole, rather than inferring only from the parts we’ve seen.

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35mm Photographs by Chris Moody

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Top: "A Refreshment," Colorado 2018. Bottom: "Stuuuuuu," Colorado, 2018"


Top: "Peas!" Colorado 2018. Bottom: "The Fog" Maine, 2013."

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A Country Boy Becomes a Faerie and Meets the Man of His Dreams: A Long-winded Country Love Story by Mark Turner

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’m just a country boy at heart, even though I’ve been a “townie” all my life. Townie is what those of us who lived in the small West Virginia town where I grew up were called in relation to those who lived on small farms out in the county. Yet, people who come from big cities would likely consider a community of 2,000 to be rural. There were 8,000 people in the county when I lived there; fewer live there today. In our household, growing much of the produce we ate was an important part of life. My dad was the gardener, my mom was an accomplished flower arranger who worked with what my dad grew and whatever she could harvest from the neighbors. We ate well and enjoyed the beauty of fresh flowers in the house. I learned how to prepare the soil by turning it deeply each spring. I saw my dad amend our red clay with mass quantities of maple leaves each fall when the custodians from the small state college across the street brought them over after raking them up. I groaned at carrying buckets of water from the tap to the vegetable beds to get the tomatoes and beans and peppers and eggplants off to a good start. When I was old enough, I accompanied my dad to “the farm,” twenty-five miles away and where some of my ancestors had lived since the 1860s. My dad had spent a lot of time there with his grandparents as a youth and he had a strong attachment to it. He’d bought it from a half dozen relatives in 1963 after my great-uncle Arnett and Aunt Leta decided to move to “town” a couple of miles away where they had electricity and indoor plumbing. Most of what I did with my dad on the farm was mow the grass. He believed in keeping the place looking neat and tidy around the old log farmhouse, both for pride of place and to make it look cared for and thus less prone to vandalism. It was a weekly chore in the summer, but a mostly pleasant one since I got to use the walk-behind mower and later a riding mower while my dad trimmed the edges along the creek with a scythe and sickle. He was never able to convince me to learn to use those tools properly. After I got my mowing chores done I was free to walk down the road to the flood control dam and go 18 RFD 189 Spring 2022

skinny-dipping in the two-acre pond. When I turned sixteen and got my license I’d go over to the farm with my best friend, Ronnie, and we’d hike around the hills and go swimming. The place was 147 acres, most of a small watershed draining into Polk Creek. It had been strip mined in the 1950s and hadn’t been actively farmed since the 1940s. Except for the small bits of flat bottomland, it was all growing up in mixed Appalachian hardwoods.

We found giant decaying chestnut stumps, the remnants of a once mighty forest. We ate persimmons each fall after frost, when they were sweet and had lost their astringency. We collected black walnuts, mostly leaving the hickory nuts to the squirrels. If we’d been hunters we could have harvested a deer each fall during hunting season. Ronnie and I had both figured out that we liked being naked outdoors, so we spent warm summer days on the farm sans clothing (although we carried gym shorts with us just in case the guy pumping the oil wells happened to show up). Once, we spent a full

Mark at 12, shooting his .22 on the family farm, spring 1966. Photograph by Byron Turner.


weekend naked on the farm. I doubt my dad knew that part. We slept in the old log house, cooked outside on a fire, and read the old calendars on the wall of the outhouse when we did our business. Although Ronnie and I both eventually came out as gay, neither of us had admitted it to ourselves then. We were straight, or at least we thought we were. Culturally, there wasn’t another choice in late 1960s and early 1970s rural West Virginia. Sure, we jacked off together a few times and had our first tentative exploration of cock in mouth, but we sure didn’t want to be known as cocksuckers. That was definitely a pejorative term that no boy wanted associated with him. Besides the time spent on the farm, Ronnie and I spent many Sunday afternoons hiking around the hills surrounding my home town. It was all private property, but mostly unoccupied so we could wander pretty much anywhere we wanted. We knew who might come after someone with a shotgun (almost no one), and we learned to respect the land. If we opened a gate to pass through, we closed it behind us. If it was open, we left it that way. We learned many of the trees, shrubs, and wildflowers through the season. We spent many weekends camping with our Boy Scout troop. Most months it was car camping at the local state park in what was then a rather primitive campground with a hand pump and an outhouse. We washed our dishes in the creek, dammed it to dunk ourselves in our underwear, and cooked over a wood fire. We led the younger boys on a snipe hunt at night and played tricks on each other. Once, Danny got in trouble for bringing beer. I learned to be confident in the woods. I learned to prepare my own food. I learned how to stay warm on cold nights and wintry days. I learned to be comfortable with the quiet of the outdoors, with no need for the noise and distraction of radio or television. I was definitely a country boy. When I went off to college in Rochester, New York some 500 miles away the first thing I did after moving out of the dorms my junior year was to get one of the community garden plots on the edge of campus and

plant vegetables for me and my roommates. I also learned to backpack and snowshoe and cross-country ski. This country boy’s horizons were expanding, but still firmly rooted in the outdoors. After a brief stint in northeast Ohio for grad school, not too far from the big city of Cleveland, I landed my first full-time job in Lincoln, Nebraska. At the time Lincoln was about 200,000 people. Although I lived within walking distance of the heart of downtown, the neighborhood “between campuses” still felt more like a small town. I bicycled or walked to work a couple of miles away. At the rental I lived in the first year I shared a vegetable garden plot with a neighbor, since my landlady didn’t want me digging up the yard. When I bought a house, the vegetable garden went into the strip out front between the sidewalk and the street because the backyard was too shady. I got married in Lincoln, to a lady I met on a Sierra Club canoe outing. We dated in my canoe and we continued to have outdoor adventures. When our two boys came along, we introduced them to the outdoors and camping and gardening, too. We moved the rest of the way across the country to the Pacific Northwest in 1990, establishing a home in a late 1870s house at the edge of downtown

Above: Mark at 19, studio self-portrait, November 1973. Below: Mark at 15, preparing to head to Idaho for the 1969 Boy Scout National Jamboree, July 1969, photograph by Byron Turner.

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Bellingham. When we moved in, there was nothing in the yard but bad grass and invasive blackberries and holly. By the time we moved from that home 23 years later many people thought part of our property was a city park. We grew bounties of vegetables as well as lots of ornamentals. We canned the tomatoes we couldn’t eat fresh. Occasionally, we had to chase someone out of the veggie garden who was helping themselves. But we figured if they were stealing vegetables they must be hungry. In the thirty-plus years I’ve been a northwesterner I learned to climb mountains with The Mountaineers, dabbled with sea kayaking, helped lead numerous Boy Scout outings to wondrous places in the nearby wilderness and semi-wilderness. I’ve learned enough about our regional flora to photograph and co-author two well-received field guides, published by Timber Press. My country roots stayed strong even as I continued to live in town. Eight years ago my spouse and I found our dream property on the edge of town and bought the five acres in the financial trough between the 2008 recession and the rapid runup of property values. We’d both been hankering for more gardening and outdoor space; a book on our shelves for many decades has been One Acre & Security: How to Live Off the Earth without Ruining It by Bradford Angier (Vintage 20 RFD 189 Spring 2022

Books, 1972) We put in a bigger vegetable garden. We began stewarding our three acres of secondgrowth forest to clear out the invasive blackberries and hollies and to plant little conifers. We were living our dream, with my photo business in the studio we remodeled out of a building that looked like a barn when we bought it. All this time I’d been living as a straight man. But lurking inside was another part of me that I kept deeply buried. My closet was so deep it might as well have been hidden in a cabin far off the grid back in the mountains I loved. That changed when another country boy on the DudesNude website reached out to me (yes, I was poking around on gay websites while married to a woman) to invite me to a gathering of gay nudists at his farm in a remote part of British Columbia over near the Alberta border. It sounded like just the sort of gathering I’d enjoy and I wanted to go. In retrospect, it sounded like a miniature radical faerie gathering, but I didn’t know about the faeries yet. I was just a country boy who liked being naked outside with other guys. That was August 2016. After major angst, I came out to my wife. How else could I say I wanted to go to a gay nudist gathering? It was hard. In private, outdoors, I screamed. I cried. I’d taken “until death do us part” wedding vows nearly thirty-five years before and took that very seriously. I don’t think I’d ever have acted on my suicidal thoughts because I knew the anguish it would bring my boys and their families, but I certainly thought about it. Spending time outdoors, in nature, helped get me through coming out. It certainly helped that we’d had numerous gay friends most of our time together, including three trans lesbians who were among our circle of friends. We had an amicable divorce, and at her suggestion we continued to live together. She moved down the hall to the spare bedroom, but we still shared a house, a garden, and a business. It was rather remarkable, and while not unique it was certainly an uncommon arrangement. Not much more than two months after our divorce was final, I encountered Brian at the weekly queer Wednesday dinner in town. He was also fresh out of the closet, in the process of finalizing his own divorce, and the dinner was his first tentative foray into socializing with other gay men. We went for a hike the following Saturday and hit it off. We lingered at the roadside trailhead watching the sunset, stopped at the nearest brewery for beer, then shared a pizza and another beer before he came home with me for the night. Over the next few weeks we went snowshoeing,

Mark, right, with Ronnie at a West Virginia trailhead, August 1973. Photograph courtesy the author.


hiked a bunch of North Cascades trails, and then went camping together in warm and sunny eastern Washington. I’d told him I planned to spend time naked on the camping trip, and we did. We took the title of the old fiddle tune, Whiskey Before Breakfast, to heart and poured the Jack Daniels we’d brought for evening libations into our morning coffee while we looked out over pothole lakes while listening to the cacophony of red-winged and yellow-headed blackbirds and watched giant white pelicans glide gracefully over the water. We decided we were boyfriends. Brian’s another country boy, a kindred soul who grew up on a farm less than ten miles from where we were now living together (still with my former spouse). He cheerfully joined in the gardening chores. We went to our first faerie gathering at Breitenbush in February 2018 and found a community of men with a lot of shared values. I’d learned of the faeries from a man I met on Grindr a year earlier (yes, we actually talked before we got down and pleasurable). We kept hiking and backpacking. We worked together clearing blackberries in our woods. We dug vegetable beds, harvested the bounty, canned tomato sauce and dilly beans and pickled beets. He made a couple dozen pints of delicious salsa while I was away at a conference. He did the yeoman’s work of remodeling our downstairs bathroom to incorporate a delightful two-person shower so we’d have a choice between that and the claw foot tub upstairs. We went to our second winter gathering at Breitenbush, then returned for the summer one in August. Brian became Skye. The last morning of that summer 2019 gathering, laying together in bed before going to breakfast, we decided we were ready to formalize our relationship by getting married. All the time we two country boys had spent together, outdoors as much as possible, convinced us we were meant for each other. It didn’t hurt that I’d known him for more than a month before I learned he owned pants; he wears a kilt. We’d planned a mountaintop wedding for July

2020 but the COVID pandemic changed our plans and we had our ceremony in our own backyard with a small group of masked friends in attendance. One of our friends from the Wednesday dinner group officiated and Brian’s good friend Marie played a big part in the ceremony as well. We wore our formal kilts and shared a toast of Scotch whiskey. For our honeymoon we spent a week backpacking in a beautiful and remote part of the Pasayten Wilderness. We watched the sky change hues at sunset as the shadows climbed Cathedral Peak and Ampersand Mountain above Upper Cathedral Lake. We watched families of mountain goats eagerly seek the salt from the pee we’d deposited on the granite in our campsite. We skinny-dipped in the icy water, warming and drying in the afternoon sun. We figured out the names of some of the grasses (they’re hard) and reveled in the stands of mountain larches, our only deciduous conifer. Yep, we’re nature nerds, country boys who just happen to live almost in town. We’re starting the next chapter of our lives this year. My former spouse bought a home across the mountains in Yakima where our grandkids live (and

where my son brews excellent beer). For the first time in the five years we’ve been together, Skye and I have a place of our own; we were able to afford to buy out Natalie’s share of our joint property. Planting time is just around the corner and we country boys are ready. The tools are sharpened, the seeds laid in, and the plots laid out. We can’t imagine living anywhere other than on a piece of land we own, where we can grow much of our food, where we can watch the ducks visit our little pond, listen to the flickers hammering on a rooftop vent as they seek a mate, marvel at baby barred owls practicing their first flights off the hops arbor, and being in tune with the ever-changing seasons. We’ll be country boys as long as we live, and proud of it.

Upper: Brian and Mark on Amphitheater Mountain in Washington’s Pasayten Wilderness, August 2020 during their honeymoon backpack trip, photograph by Mark Turner. Lower: Mark at a favorite spot in the woods on his and Brian’s property near Bellingham, Washington, April 2019, photograph by Brian Turner..

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Let’s Grow Together! by Luke Potter

“When the world wearies, and society fails to satisfy, there is always the garden.” –Minnie Aumonier

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ome of you know me by my twenty-plus-yearold faeire name, “Brother Bump.” Now, I’m Luke Potter, The Urban Farmer. I’m a life-long gardener, teacher, avid home canner, and author of gardening and home canning books. I love to share gardening advice with both experts and first-timers. My goal is to build a sustainable community of like-minded in-

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dividuals dedicated to feeding our families, friends, and communities healthy, organic food while preserving the traditions of our ancestors. In 2021, after the surge in home gardening during the 2020 pandemic, I decided to share my knowledge with others by writing a series of gardening books designed to assist others on their personal journeys while helping them attain the Zen of home-based gardening. My motto is, “Life is abundant.” Together, we can learn to

Photograph courtesy the author.


reap what we sow while helping make the world a better place.

My Books “There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.” –Janet Kilburn Phillips If you’re like me, you want to be part of a sustainable community of home gardeners who grow healthy food and can survive any crisis—natural or man-made. My gardening book teaches people to have an abundant harvest by growing vegetables and herbs in pots and containers even when they have little space for a traditional garden or experience. Balconies, stoops, driveways, and even rooftops can be utilized to grow healthy, organic food. I’m just a small, self-published author starting a grass-roots movement to feed families. With recent shortages and more predicted, I don’t want to see anyone go hungry when they can easily learn to grow and preserve their own healthy food.

I’ve had the blessed opportunity to teach homeschool kids how to grow and preserve their own food. My book has even reached village leaders in Uganda, Mali, and Nigeria. They’re using the lessons to teach orphans how to grow food and be more self-reliant while feeding their communities what they have grown in salvaged plastic bottles, recycled plastic bins, and hand-made grow bags. I’m reminded of the early days at Destiny when the forest canopy prevented growing food. That might no longer be the case, and I’d be honored to visit the Land again to share my gardening and food preservation experiences with my kin.

My New Book “The wise store up choice food and olive oil, while fools gulp theirs down.” –Proverbs 21:20 My new home canning book is the perfect follow-up to my gardening book. In it, I teach readers how to preserve their harvest, so it lasts all year. Included are vintage and modern recipes that I’ve personally tried and tested. Everything from soups to pickling, jams to meats, and more! With it, your family and community will never go hungry! Top to bottom: Canned goods, Harvest. Photographs courtesy of the author.

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Legendary 4 Thieves Vinegar Tonic Legend has it that during the 18th-century plague epidemic in Europe, a band of thieves robbed the homes and graves of those who were sick and dying of the disease but never fell ill themselves. Their secret? They doused cloth face coverings in a tonic they had created and washed their hands with it after robbing the graves. When finally captured, they shared their secret recipe. This vinegar acts as an antiseptic and to disinfect, repel insects, and boost the immune system when taken as a tonic. You can make it using fresh herbs from your garden and mix and match to suit your needs and tastes. Yield: 4 pints Ingredients Garlic cloves Whole cloves Cinnamon sticks Rosemary Thyme Oregano Sage Lavender (optional) 32oz organic apple cider vinegar Black peppercorns (optional) Ginger root (optional) Mason jars or decorative bottles with corks or stoppers Recipe 1. Place garlic, cloves, and herbs (fresh or dried) in each jar. 2. Add cinnamon sticks, peppercorns, and grated ginger root to organic apple cider vinegar in a large stainless-steel saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Strain liquid. 3. Pour hot liquid over herbs in jars. Add lids or corks and place in a sunny windowsill and steep for 2-4 weeks. Luke’s Modern Uses Mix with olive oil to make salad dressing. Use in a spray bottle for cleaning kitchen/bathroom counters. Take 1 Tbsp a day as a tonic. Use on blemishes, cuts, fungal infections. Apply with a cotton ball to lighten age spots. Apply to skin to soothe sunburn. 24 RFD 189 Spring 2022

Top to bottom: Pickles and peppers, Pantry, Luke gardening in 1983. Photographs courtesy the author.


Reflections On Being a Farmer by Albizia Kchckrhh, Zir Tartemis, Teapot, & Twinkle Loris

Albizia Kchckrhh

“S

tewardship” is often understood as the act of caring for the environment with recognition to the first stewards of the land: Indigenous nations and their long-standing relationship with the land and each other. Conversely, from a Western historical perspective, “stewardship” denotes asset management and the maintenance of one’s ownership over properties. Viewing the act of “stewardship” through this historical lens brings to light the complex and fraught impacts of colonialism and what it means to “care for” the land. To steward the land means both

ecological restoration and human intervention, both regenerative farming and colonial land ownership, both erasure of cultures and nations working side by side, both environmental conservation and seeing nature as central to the resource economy. There is no straightforward path towards soil remediation and environmental repair. Yet we can invite artists to germinate their ideas and projects while exploring farming, environmental stewardship and community engagement. We can host community events that focus on oral traditions (music, storytelling, workshops). We can learn our stories. The land where we grow, create and gather has been stewarded by Indigenous nations for millennia. In our relationships with First Nations elders and teachers we acknowledge these lands are the ancestral and treaty lands of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. These are also traditional territories of the Chenotton, Attawandaron and Haudenosaunee Albizia, photograph courtesy authors.

First Nations. We are so grateful to the stewards that came before us to care for this land. The land is a layered history, and the story we know is only a tiny fraction of the more-than-human world of plants, animals, and insects that have been impacted by and witnessed human change.

Zir Tartemis

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ince 2009, my partner and I have lived in intentional eco-houses with friends and family. In 2016 we moved from a 0.1 acre urban plot to a ninety-acre rural farm. We were intrigued to discover RFD a few years ago; it combines driving passions of ours, which are ecological restoration, queerness, and creativity. Each of our housemates wanted to contribute so we wrote this article together! Some people might consider us radical. We save seeds, grow sprouts, make stuff for ourselves (leather goods, carpentry, basketry, sewing, mending), gender bend, make preserves from our gardens and orchards, participate in Community Shared Agriculture, build relationships with our First Nations treaty partners, rotationally graze a small herd of heritage cattle, compost humanure, and plant thousands of berries and trees to feed our broader community. Our home is a hub of arts, music, healing and traditional skills, animal care, and knowledge building, holding great potential for others to join and create sanctuary. We talk about what’s going on in our hearts, we are a sex-positive home, and we are free to express and nourish ourselves while caring for this land physically and emotionally. Compared to when RFD started in the 1970s, some things in our life that might have seemed out of reach have become more mainstream now. We faced challenges growing up and coming out but we are privileged in most ways a person can be, and this is thanks to decades of activism and personal sacrifice by 2SLGBTQQIPAA people and allies, including Radical Faeries. We are men who have the choice to live openly in committed partnership, surrounded by support from our families. We have full time jobs where being gay is accepted and welcomed. Our careers focus on environmental policy, food systems RFD 189 Spring 2022 25


and farmland protection. There are at least four queer households living within a twenty minute bike ride of us, randomly in the boonies. We are welcomed in this part of the countryside with open arms. Within the current colonial legal system, we legally protected the farm in perpetuity using a conservation easement. We haven’t had a wedding; we held a land dedication ceremony. We live in a community in Ontario,

toward decolonization. Our version of queerness is about more than who you are attracted to. It’s about turning our difference into inspiration to change the world for the better. When I curl up with my partner after a long day of work, and see the love in his warm eyes, I feel the river of energy that weaves through our bodies and memories to draw us together. This love is stronger than the generations of oppression that tried to silence it. Love inspires us, pulls us together to do more than we could apart, and gives meaning to the beauty and pain in the world. We do this side by side, out of love for each other, and for all of life.

Teapot

A

Canada that elected a Green party politician. It’s hard to say if our rural queer life is radical enough. One could argue we haven’t realized the ideal of sexual liberation for all within a complete alternative to hierarchies and capitalism, and too much of our time is focused on paying the bills versus community care and activism. But it’s part of putting into action a better relationship of gratitude with all of nature, which is radical when extended to the future. The future we move towards is about healing ourselves, listening to our bodies and not pushing for more than we need, meditating playfully and deeply, moving past capitalism to community networks of mutual aid, fostering ecological regeneration, renewable energy, permaculture, shared land access, local artists’ and makers’ hubs, challenging systems of oppression and spurring diverse cultural evolutions 26 RFD 189 Spring 2022

ll around the world, herbalism has deep roots in the history of many cultures’ medicinal evolution. As a part of my ancestry and practice of herbalism, I have studied the works of Hildegard of Bingen. Hildegard was a twelfth century Benedictine abbess, mystic, composer and healer, and was the first German woman physician. One of the most profound contributions Hildegard left us with is her theory of viriditas, the greening power of nature. It has been speculated that the origin of the word is derived from two Latin words meaning green and truth. Hildegard described viriditas as the creative power of life, being present in everything, including human life. Viriditas can be witnessed through the growing of plants all around us. Hildegard believed that viriditas can be cultivated in both our bodies and souls. It is the vitality that is felt spiritually and physically in all beings when in the flow of well-being, reached through connection with nature, healthy foods and lifestyle. Her belief is that our relationship with viriditas needs to be a mindful choice that is tended to for optimal health. For example, meditation in nature and mindful eating help to gain strength of spirit and vitality. The counterpart of viriditas is ariditas. Infection, loss of creative energy and spiritual distress can arise when the flow of viriditas is blocked. In our modern lives, nurturing a connection with nature can seem quite challenging with an array of barriers between us and greenery. The recommendation to get outside and walk in nature has an array of benefits such as lower blood pressure, stress reduction, improved mood and boosted creativity. Another aspect of Hildegard’s philosophy was Zir Tartemis and Twinkle Loris, photograph courtesy authors.


the idea of dreams and psychology as a reflection of health. These revelations came about in her personal experience of being a woman in the male-dominated world of the church. When feeling as though she must hide her theological ideas, her talents and voice, she often became confined to sickbed. Her awakening came in mid-life, when she expressed what she felt was her true essence. Hildegard of Bingen credited much of this boost of creativity and life force to confronting her fears of expression and aligning to her visions.

Twinkle Loris

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021 is the year I realized I had finally become a farmer. I suddenly felt different, a new awareness, like I had adopted a new identity, discovering more confidence in myself and my abilities, more conviction in what I am doing. This is who I am now, how I move. I am truly part of this rhythm, this cycle of the seasons, the sun, the clouds; the insects, the grass; the trees, the soil - all senses engaged, always recalculating, adapting my steps, my plans, almost innately. What is the wind telling me: what weather is coming and how to prepare; what am I learning from the plants: how the crops show stress or give in abundance; how are the animals communicating: comfort, safety, fear, danger, scarcity, fertility… five years into full-time farming, something is finally clicking, and it feels good. Teapot, photograph courtesy the authors.

I didn’t grow up on a farm. Small town Pennsylvania. My grandparents farmed, but many hours’ drive away from where I grew up; by the time I was in middle school, they had retired and sold their farms. No one in my parents’ generation had an interest in farming, and knowledge of how to farm dissipated. Despite little exposure to agriculture, somehow I inherited the calling and knew clearly from a young age that I wanted to be a farmer, though embarrassed to admit it to my peers. In Grade 4 I lied and did a presentation on how I wanted to be an artist when I grew up, to hide my farming passions, expecting art to be a more acceptable career path. Why such internalized shame? Maybe subconsciously my emerging (and also supressed) queer orientation seemed to mesh better with art than my perception of an agricultural career at the time. Can you be gay and a farmer at the same time? Hard things to figure out on your own, in an ultra-conservative Christian community where “no one is gay” and otherness is feared or condemned. Thirty-five years later, I have become a farmer, a gay farmer! It is so very possible, even if you have to start from scratch and learn everything, little by little, to build up enough knowledge and experience to shape a livelihood and a lifestyle. And I hope many more of us continue making the leap in this direction, leading a movement back to the land, to healing and restoring our relationship with the earth, to growing healthy food for our communities and connecting people with nature. I hope this writing can be encouraging to others who are moving on this path as well. Here are my thoughts on what got me to this place; how to become a farmer, or achieving any life goals really: Just go for it! – write down your dreams, make your plans, and dive in. There is so much to learn and you never stop learning, from nature, from the land, from others who have gone before, from books, from YouTube. Sign up for some educational sessions and hands-on learning opportunities – ecological farming workshops, conferences, farmer-to-farmer meetings, field days, networking. Work on other farms, get some experience before launching your own farming ventures. When the time is right to set up your own farm, just go for it - if you start small, plan to grow toward your dreams incrementally, and stick with it, you will be successful. Accept the journey – it won’t all be achieved at once, it’s a patient process, maybe a lifetime project. Be confident in yourself and your goals, but also be humble and be gentle on yourself. There will be many highs and lows along the way. So much beauty, RFD 189 Spring 2022

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the freshest food and best flavours, connections to nature, animals and people. But farming is unpredictable and stressful too - you’re at the mercy of the weather and market prices for your products; accept that there are factors beyond your control and just focus on what you can do. You have to be practical about money—farming is often not a money-making venture and always requires more investment than you expect; keep other sources of income, especially if you have a mortgage, and if your climate only allows farming for half of the year. Accept the imperfections and choose to find joy in the everyday miracles of life on the farm. Ask questions, ask for help – don’t feel like you have to learn and do everything yourself. You might feel amateur and silly asking questions of more experienced farmers or neighbours or mechanics, but more often than not, they are eager to share what they know and lend a helping hand. Make these community connections, they can be a lifeline. It’s the local tire shop, the tractor repair shop, the neighbour who has all the farming equipment you can’t afford but can borrow or hire them to do some custom work for you. There are so few farmers and independent small businesses in our communities anymore, there is a feeling that we’re all in this together and we need to support one another, even if we have different perspectives on how to farm (organic vs. conventional, small vs. large scale, etc.). There is much common ground if we put our differences and politics aside, and emphasize areas of shared values and purpose. Find friends – the scale and impact of what you can achieve is amplified by how many friends and people are engaged in your farm life, vision and activities. I’m fortunate to have the support, love and encouragement of my life partner who is also passionate about restoration ecology, permaculture, tree planting and food forests. We live in a shared homestead with several other spectacular humans who love to garden and cook, create music and art, bring people together and laugh. I have farmer mentors, now retired, who have passed so much knowledge and farming opportunities to me; neighbours who offer land to rent; investor partners who share the vision; an amazing farming crew that allows us to connect 50,000+ annual visitors to the experience of picking their own berries, veggies and flowers on the farm. Always be open to new ideas, friendships and relationships that strengthen your capacity to make your dreams possible, and bring more resources to affect broader transformational change in your community. 28 RFD 189 Spring 2022

Don’t despair, stay inspired – there will always be missteps and mistakes, things will not always go as planned. Keep an open mind and an open heart – don’t see this as failure, but an opportunity for learning and improving; accept the teachings from the land, be adaptable and focus on new ideas and creative solutions. Farming can be physically and mentally exhausting, nonstop, hard work, long work days. Know when to ask for help, who and where to go to for support, take breaks. What inspires you, reminds you of the bigger picture and makes you feel connected? For me, reading, art, and community connectedness through RFD and the Dark Mountain Project are a big part of my feeling rooted and inspired. Celebrate your achievements! – take time for reflection, look back on each season and celebrate your successes, even the little things like learning how to drive a tractor, how to use a three-point-hitch and hook up the PTO; creating good soil, compost; growing tomatoes from seed and tasting the first fruits. Be intentional about journaling, taking pictures, before and after new projects; bear witness to your own achievements and remember how far you’ve come. It feels truly remarkable, looking back. No, I didn’t always have the confidence in myself or in my farming abilities. Yes, I still get anxious about coming out as a gay man to older farmers in my community, worried about their reaction or rejection. Sure, I am farming within an hour’s drive of Toronto, which is perhaps a more open and progressive place to land. But there have been so many unexpected and wonderful surprises on the way to becoming a farmer – discovering that there are four queer neighbours living on the same country road, including a gay couple in their 90’s who throw wicked summer pool parties on their farm. And being part of conversations at the little stone church on the next road over where the older generation meets every Sunday to debate how they can be more welcoming and supportive of marginalized groups in our community, including refugees, LGBTQ2S+ and indigenous people, right past wrongs and heal divisions. And witnessing a major shift in just a few years, farmers of all types coming together to share ideas, knowledge and solutions, working earnestly to shift toward more ecological farming practices that protect and restore the soil and build more resiliency into our farming systems amidst the climate crisis. And, on my own farm, discovering the out-of-this-world, most incredible taste of natural, grass-fed beef, fresh picked strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, currants and gooseberries, sweet corn and squash, marvelling in the diversity in each of these crops, hundreds of variet-


ies, all so different in flavour and how they grow in different environments. And experiencing the true joy of sharing the bounty of the harvest with others in the community, friends, customers, farm visitors, potlucks, farmers’ markets, and receiving their appreciation in return, even more profound and meaningful during the COVID pandemic. And learning about good land stewardship, planting hundreds of trees, creating habitat and seeing endangered grassland birds, insects, and wildflower species thriving on the farm. I feel like I’m just getting started – I still have so much to learn and so many more ideas and new farm projects to try, improving biodiversity on the land, integrating livestock, trees and food crops into a permaculture farming ecosystem, becoming wholly self-sufficient in income from the farm and in food production, and off-grid homesteading, and deepening community connections to engage more people in questioning the sustainability and ethics of industrial food system; learning about good food and participating in growing food themselves; and

"The Barns, 35mm Maine 2013," photograph by Chris Moody.

connecting with the earth and nature on the farm. Our farms and rural communities are transforming, rapidly; social and environmental change is accelerating. Radical farming faeries have a big part to play in leading and shaping a future that is rooted in love and care for the people around us, our communities, and the land; challenging convention and pushing the boundaries of inclusivity, ecological agriculture, and sustainable rural living. It feels good to be part of something so tangible and essential as growing food, and understanding this act of farming as a meaningful contribution to the reimaging and rebuilding of the social and ecological fabric of this rural landscape. It is important to be listening and learning from nature and each other as we face future climate and farming uncertainties together, but where possibilities for creativity and nourishment are endless. Growing food is an act of faith and hope, planting seeds for a better future – let’s all become farmers!

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A Fool's Journey by Morgan Martin

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n 2017, I was living in Brooklyn, working multiple jobs to make my obscene rent. You know the story, I felt myself getting more restless each year as I saw the manicured tulips blooming in tiny dirt plots, drenched in dog piss between the endless stretches of asphalt. I felt even in those gaudy attempts at creating natural space the hidden wonders of nature, the call to connect to seasonal change, and the urge to be in forests, eating my peck of dirt. Through this urge I found myself visiting my cousin on a semi famous hippie commune in Virginia. It was there that I met my partner, Reynaldo. At the time he was the commune’s disaffected dairy manager. My first impressions were that he fit the bill of my Brokeback Mountain fantasy, with his rough hands, mud boots, and John Deere baseball hat. I thought it would be a fling, and had I known that fateful day in late March as we stood in a pasture mending fences and talking of dreams of gardens what was in store, I may have been too daunted to continue with the adventure ahead. Six months later we loaded up a minivan and drove to Mississippi. How we got to that conclusion, is perhaps a story for another time, but we found ourselves two weeks into our adventure, living in a tent in a frosted field in October, with no farm to speak of. Through insane luck and divine intervention, we found an old homestead in Tupelo, owned by the sweetest couple who happen to distribute Permaculture Design magazine. They had land, much loved but less maintained. They heard our plans of a novel experiment, to build gardens without tillage, at the time a Quixodian quest, especially in the heavy clay of Mississippi, which has lived and died by the plow for the last 400 years. We were hasty and foolish, but following a powerful spark of purpose. We had backup plans, if it all fell apart I had the safety net of my family, I could get a job at Chipotle in my hometown and pick up the pieces of this failed experiment, if it came to that. Reynaldo might have joined a monastery in upstate New York. We did spectacularly fail. In so many ways the worst happened to us that first year. Our relationship nearly crumbled on a monthly basis, our gardens seemed dismal failures, it felt like we lost every crop we tried to grow that first year, and I’m amazed looking at old pictures that we managed to 30 RFD 189 Spring 2022

bring anything to market at all. We were so painfully broke, I’ve never felt such terrible stress. I would say it was the best year of my life, except for all the years that followed. We figured out what we were doing eventually, and the lifeless, compacted, potter’s clay we started with became chocolate cake, soft and pliable, a network of billions of life forms witnessing the pleasure of existence of which I was but another puzzle piece. It was as if I was awakened to a world I had never imagined could exist. The pleasure of building relationship with mockingbirds, the surprise and awe at finding a watermelon I’d forgotten I planted. Sure, we had read the books, written by wealthy white men, of how to get rich selling lettuce mix to old ladies. We knew what tools we needed and we learned which ones we could get by without. But the greatest teacher I found was sitting in the midday sun, moving inch by inch down a bed choked with sedge and Bermuda grasses, taking a seemingly insurmountable task and losing myself in the act of accomplishing it. There are things the soil itself teaches you, that are futile to try to put in words. Reynaldo and I have found our way back to Virginia, into the arms of a sweet queer farming cooperative in Floyd County. We’re starting over again, with all the knowledge from our past failures and success, on a farm we’re calling Fool’s Hill. It’s currently winter, with snow on the ground, and I’m feeling less of a farmer than I have since we started our journey. Spring will soon be here though, and I feel as much a novice as I did that first spring in Mississippi. The only difference is I know failure is imaginary, there is only growth and the accumulation of life upon life, that is twhat the Earth itself screams in my ears every day of my life, now that I’ve been given the gift of hearing it. Is my story a cautionary tale? Is it agrarian propaganda, written to convince the sad disconnected souls nagivating the modern capitalist hellscape to put down their phones, pickup their pitchforks and follow me? I suppose both and neither. An interesting thing about touching soil is the quiet it gives you. I find it hard to write about nowadays. I’ve been a farmer for four years now, and I sometimes feel a hundred years old, and all I can do is smile, with wrinkles in my eyes, and know those who seek the land will surely find it.


The Missing Goat Last night I had a dream of forgiveness We were walking on some sacred ground And a light fell from heaven with a promise That all lost things are someday found —Patti Scialfa “State of Grace” Has the missing goat been found, I wonder on Phillips Road, the distraught woman who frowned and flagged me down on the route to offer a flyer as prayer, asked if I’d seen it, looked pained that I hadn’t, annoyed when I wouldn’t take her number— too busy to call if I caught it munching grass near the highway or walking far afield alone. I didn’t say it’s illegal to put those notices in mailboxes, didn’t have time. And unless that goat turned up blocking my way, I’d never have noticed. I was already running an hour behind my elusive deadline though I don’t understand the rush. The day will be done when all the mail is delivered. The lost goat will roam home before dinner and dark, whether that woman worries or not.

— D. Scott Humphries

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"Dorian #4" by Eric Lanuit

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Rotational Grazing & Forest Management By Mike Grindemann

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have access to 180 acres of private land in Southwest Wisconsin dedicated to sustainability and beer drinking, a part of the Driftless Region. The Driftless is roughly the area of the Upper Mississippi River Valley from north of LaCrosse, Wisconisn to Dubuque, Iowa, where, due to luck and topography the glacial sheets forked and went around. For an in-depth documentary on the region, I highly recommend visiting your local library and checking out a copy of the DVD Decoding the Driftless. The resulting land is hills and sandstone or limestone bluffs, rocks and cliff faces, and a property that has over 200feet of elevation change, sometimes a gentle slope, sometimes a cliff. We have white-tailed hawks that others call bald eagles. Barred owls declare, “I hoot for me, who hoots for you?” The coyote den is getting closer to camp. A bird I saw recently sure looked like a Peregrine falcon. The browsing deer seem to like garden vegetables better than alfalfa and acorns. The turkeys use the lawn as a morning landing strip 34 RFD 189 Spring 2022

when de-roosting, gliding in almost silently, eerie and jaw-dropping at the same time. Getting into their roosting tree the night before is a much louder undertaking requiring much discussion that I have heard many times while bow hunting for white tails. Recently retired, I have taken on a major, unpaid maintenance role on the property. My overall goals are to upgrade the woods and pastures and to obtain enough income from the property to pay the property taxes. Historically that has not been the case. The pastured ag land is taxed at one rate while the woodlots are taxed at a much higher recreational rate because it is used mostly for hunting and hiking. Up to now, we have cut firewood for use at the deer camp and to heat a house in the city, but in general, the woodlots are vastly underutilized. Much wood just rots. My recent purchase of a Wood-Mizer bandsaw mill is intended to provide me with cabinet lumber and as a means to better utilize the dead, diseased, and mature trees on the property. I hope to sell Photographs courtesy the author.


lumber and firewood in the future. To date, firewood seems to be in demand--generally more work than value--but not lumber which I believe is where the greater income potential is. It is early in the game; time will tell. I need better marketing skills. The cabin and cook lodge do not have electricity, though the cabin is wired and there is a generator that generally collects dust. We cook on a propane hot plate or the top of the wood stove. We carry in potable water, collect roof runoff for dish and body washing. The pastures on the other side of the farm are part of another homestead and that area has power to a machine shed which provides electricity to a chest freezer and the electric fences. The cattle show up around May 15 and leave early in November. We can handle up to fifty head, assuming an average rainfall year. It is now mid-November and I see the invasive multi-flora rose have really encroached into pasture four. Anyone have a great way to kill them without using a flamethrower, backhoe or herbicides? They are also great at growing over and landing on the electric fence and grounding it out. My aging cousin is less and less able to handle the seasonal pasture maintenance. I believe the farm needs a paid part-time helper, an intern or seasonal help. Currently, that seems to be me. I’d like to have a gay lover, but the farm seems to be that lover, and isn't even my farm. Great eye candy—the view, the sunsets, the chattering turkeys, the shiver I feel when a coyote howls closer than I had expected, a tiara-adorned deer walking under my stand—but all really lousy in bed. I’d like to have both—access to this wonderful playground and a playmate. I’d settle for someone who appreciates the property. Sure, I have dear friends that come out, help out, enjoy the scenery, drink some beer, sit around the outdoor fireplace and tell lies, but they don’t keep me warm at night. They don’t help me cut the fireplace wood. They don’t help keep the fence lines clear of brush. The property is a diamond in the rough, a park that wants an entire staff to maintain it. Trails need to be established and cleared. Fences need replacing. Flood control measures need to be determined. Firewood and logs need to be cut and hauled, firewood

sold and lumber marketed. I am so overwhelmed that I don’t have much time to enjoy it. Where do I find someone willing to earn too little money in exchange for the experience of learning forest management and rotational grazing techniques while working on and enjoying this unique property? There is so much to explore and contemplate, but little incentive all alone, which explains much of the beer drinking. Prior to my retirement, I used the property more as a get-away. The fall of 2020 found me quarantined on the property, cutting firewood and evaluating the property’s needs while living on and off of it. Too much thinking, not enough drinking. At that point I realized how much polishing this rough stone could use. It is a unique property that contains white pines, red pines, white and red oaks, bur oaks, elm, cherry, walnut, iron wood, hawthorn, and juniper. These forests are referred to as “pine relicts,” another characteristic of the Driftless Area of Southwest Wisconsin. It is not unusual to find a solitary white pine nearly three feet across or younger specimens in a grove growing from the base of a cliff to the tops of the oaks growing on the top of that same hill. This is not a typical farmstead; I am not a typical farmer. I think of myself as more of a forester, a steward of the property, hoping to maintain it for my cousin’s grandchildren, having none of my own. I find myself overly connected to the land because I am not connected enough to my community, my middle-aged, gay community. I seek greater connection but lack the skills needed to find and make those connections. I live in a very conservative area. Trees, wood, chainsaws, I understand, community, what there is of it, not so much. Maybe an intern could help me work on more than just the farm. I’m jaded. I look online for connections on rainbow sites. I find other gay men struggling with loneliness, no closer to the solution than I. A hug would help, but not from a chainsaw. Adam was not meant to wander the garden alone, not after there was a Steve. The best I can come up with is a faint hope that the future will provide more contentment than the present. I am blessed. I would not be averse to being further blessed. RFD 189 Spring 2022 35


MISSIVE: New Calf One of my cousins just sent a photo of a lovely new calf enjoying safe pasture and the shine of noon-day sun. Like you, she is concernedwith the telecast snippets of what she sees going on here. Our situation has takento swinging from drama to surreal. I am sure you saw, two nights ago, in the evening news, on top of our pandemic situation, there was-- includingon our street–– a lotof “smashing and dashing.” The glass storefront of our building was broken into and looted. The next day, business owners boardedallwindowswith plywood... like expectinga hurricane. Last night,the shopkeepersposted guards and the city imposed a rigid curfew. Except for the presence of helicopters and flashing police vehicles, the city was eerily quiet.Our neighborhood did not get a lot of sleep. Similar unrest is going on elsewhere across the nation.Ironically, I stand with the protest. And fear: gone is the notion of peacekeeping as a communityservice, angels with their fiery swords at the gates of the garden. A democracy is not working correctly if law enforcement as a mechanized, mobilized force seeks—like a virus—to conquer rather than persuade. —Scott Hightower

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Love From the Mountains by Evergreen and Miscanthus

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e are Evergreen and Miscanthus, living simply, off grid on nearly nine hectares in the low mountains of the Ribera d’Ebre in Catalunya, Spain. We are working with our small herd of rescue animals, olive and almond trees, and the land to make a sustainable life here, for us and to share; exploring techniques of regenerative agriculture, agroecology, syntropic agriculture, etc. We are both from Wisconsin, and after living in London for ten years, we found our way to this land four years ago. In our time here, we have been slowly

and continually restoring the small stone house, repairing collapsed dry stone terrace walls, tending the olive, almond, and fig trees which had been abandoned for over twenty years, and planting everything we can; hundreds of fruit, nut, and shade trees, all kinds of bushes and other edible perennials, and slowly increasing the size of our annual gardens. As a gay couple we aim to increase queer visibility in rural and agricultural endeavours and strive to provide a safe, encouraging space for us all to connect with the land.

Top to bottom, left to right: Miscanthus and Evergreen 2017, Max the rescue pig, Evergreen with Bodhi and Myra. Photographs by Miscanthus..

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Clockwise from top right: in the house, before we started any work; from inside the house, looking out, first viewing; Evergreen hand-shearing Minnea, a sheep; Jack helping work on a new room; starting work on the collapsed roof of the second room. Evergreen finishing a bath below; roof repairs. Photographs by Miscanthus.

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Opposite page: Juny the donkey; Evergreen with Bodhi. Photographs by Miscanthus.


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Gloryland—Our Forever Home by Glen Morton Ganaway AKA Satyre

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y mother tells me a story of a time when our family was camping in the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina. She says that when she called everyone to dinner and I didn’t show up, she and my father went looking for me. She says that she and my father were walking in the woods yelling for me, I’m sure getting more and more frantic as I didn’t answer. They did find me. I was hunched over a very large ant hill on my little tip toes staring into the hill, totally absorbed. She says that there were ants on everything, but none on me. It is in nature and within whole systems that I feel most at home. I spent most of my summers on the family farms of grandparents, aunts and uncles. From the Ozarks to the wheat fields of central Colorado. I learned to drive at my Aunt Francis farm. She let me loose on a tracker and told me to plow up a field any way I liked. I was in heaven. I thought I had arrived as a powerful force of nature. I was eleven. The most

magical place on her farm was the root cellar, however. It was both scary and possessed an attractive force that I couldn’t resist. I was fascinated with the 40 RFD 189 Spring 2022

apples & potatoes in saw dust. There were rows and rows of jars collected together in the cool darkness between hanging ears of dried corn, squash, beans and sunflowers. How could there be food in here; under the ground-just hanging about? What could this magic be?

Some of my earliest memories are of my Grandmother and her friends planning mutual aid projects as they sewed around a quilting circle. I would sit under the quilt in the filtered light. Old women laughing and arguing over this plan or that, and in what order. The smell of old ladies feet, strong coffee and summer. My grandmother would often take me on a gathering mission. “Lets go see what we can find!” I thought were were walking through the woods. To my young eyes, it seemed that this was a magical wood where food was growing all over the place. My Grandmother would reach down and pull a squash from the leafy floor of the woods. Or reach up and snatch some apples hidden just out of my view. She would pinch a leaf here and break a branch on a tree, or bend it around itself on another bush. I remember that we would bring a bit of muffin, or bread with us. She would leave it on a stump with an chipped tea cup of fresh water. “To say Thank You” she would say. With my adult’s eyes, I know today that we were walking through a thirty year old two acre food forest that provided most of the fruit and vegetables that they ate all year. Where my Aunt Francis’ cellar was some distance from her home, my grandmother’s root cellar was accessed from a skinny door in her kitchen; like a portal to another place. My grandparPhotographs courtesy the author.


ents built the house right over the well, which was very sophisticated, I’m told. They were both deceased before I was ten years old. I remember riding next to my grandfather in his old pick up. He would deliver eggs to the neighbors and they would give him meat or produce. I never saw either of them handle money.

Ever. It was all done on barter, mutual aid, and playing it forward. My father retired from the military when he was fifty-eight and bought ten Acres outside of Kansas City, Missouri. He restored the wetlands, put in a nut orchard and a very large vegetable garden that eventually had to be deer fenced as the locals were getting fat on my parents labor. For ten years I watched him build the place back up to a productive farm. My mother grew up on farms as well. She says that she knew she was never going to have pretty hands because she picked cotton on her father’s farm till she was twelve or so. Her father flipped farms. They traveled back and forth from Oklahoma to Georgia and back, moving every few years as another place would come available as the present one was becoming manageable. This interest in the natural landscape and growing food and the husbandry of animals is in my blood. I’ve never stopped dreaming that one day I’d be able to do that too. I turn fifty-eight this year. I’m not retiring as my father did. But I am continuing a legacy of sorts that’s deep in Griffin, Pepper, Ganaway, White, and Trout family roots. When Covid hit big in early 2020, Yolanda and I found ourselves with a very small inheritance from

the rapid decline and sudden death of her mother, though not Covid related. We thought we would look into buying a small place where we wanted to be; Vermont. We had not looked long when we discovered a place for exactly what we inherited. Like magic, we knew it was for us. We drove by it on Google and fell in love. We closed on Beltane 2020. When we arrived and finally looked at the place in person the neighbors came out in droves. We found out that most of the surrounding property owners had already been offered the property and declined. It seemed that we were destined to be there. We called up a permaculture designer, Ben Falk and Cornelius Murphy of Whole Systems Design. They’ve been marvelous. We’ve had to tear down the original homestead and managed to salvage many of the old growth beams and boards. Then neighborhood again came out and helped and brought beer and snacks on a very warm Vermont summer day. We’re glamping in a Jamaica Shed at the moment as we install water infrastructure this year. On Beltane 2022 we’ll begin our third year. It’s been surveyed and the electricity is back on the land. Septic will be complete this year and we’re moving toward living on our homestead 24/7/365 within the next two years. It’s really all we think about. I go to bed most nights dreaming and thinking about our 4.4 acres in very rural Vermont. We must do this. Recently I attended a seance. The medium said that there were two men who wanted to talk to me, they didn’t know each other, but one of them had a thick German accent and the other a hillbilly drawl. They wanted to tell me that they were here to help and wanted to make sure I did things right on the new place. My grandfathers are with us. We’re going to be okay. Our goal is to build a legacy property that feeds us and others. We want to be a resource of media, both print and sound as well. We call the place Gloryland. We’re walking out and walking on; we’re creating what we know to be what works. A magical and abundant legacy food forest. RFD 189 Spring 2022

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Not By Bread Alone: My Grandmother’s Village by Aldo

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n the hard ground, compacted with the soil constantly trampled by carts, horses, sheep, and cattle, my bare feet stepped incessantly. The long, hot, dry summer hot my soul—naked, translucent, fragile, wandering in that nurturing environment—found peace and salvation. As soon as I stepped on the hard clay ground, grass and bushes with thorns and berries on its sides, I followed in the ruts the carts had created, until I reached the little old white house where my grandmother always waited for me with open arms. in the yard were harvested beans out drying. On the roof, my grandmother had placed plums and figs, also to dry under the sun and then be stored for the long, cold, wet winter ahead. The sunny outdoors where the dew spread its carpet every morning was vivid with the noise of the working people. It woke me up full of momentum. The pale skins on the poor faces of those workers hid a force, an immeasurable desire of wise people to work without complaining or shouting. At hot noontime I rushed out to pick delicious fruits off the tall trees and sit on the dusty ground to enjoy them in shadows that protected me from the fiery sun. Sometimes the dusty, compacted earth was drenched by a raging summer rain, the dust turning quickly to soft mud. Like plasticine, it caressed the soles of my wet feet and came out between my toes. I felt relaxed. I felt the earth. The evening aroma penetrated deep: potatoes 42 RFD 189 Spring 2022

and corn roasting in our small children’s fire made from the remaining embers of the larger fire we had built. It could have melted like ice cream even the most solid soul. One day in particular I remember so vividly. It had just dawned. The sun was shining as I tried to look straight ahead without closing my eyes. “Today, you will come to help me with the field work while the other children go to the greenhouse to water the planted tomatoes,” my uncle said. Usually I was barefoot, but there were many thorns and thistles in the field, so I had to wear plastic sandals. My uncle took with him the bread that my grandmother had wrapped in a bag, some bottles of water, the shovel, the pickaxe, and the sickles. The fresh air of the morning caressed my small body sweetly; it refreshed my brain. The brown horse lifted its legs rhythmically, clattering with every step on the dry ground. The axles of the wagon creaked when the wheels hit the ruts. I was amazed to see the trees, flowers, herbs, reeds, ponds, the small one-storey houses surrounded by greenery, the beautiful multi-colored flowers that bloomed proudly on those hot summer days. “Uncle, what is the name of that big tree there? What about that plant with the white flower? Does the water canal ever run dry? Is the village this beautiful even in winter?” I had a thousand questions in my head, without getting an answer before asking the next question. After we had passed the inhabited area and left Photograph courtesy the author.


the last house behind, the endless planted fields out the day. waved in front of me, and over them waved my As he got to work, I wandered the alfalfa fields, childhood curiosity. I was amazed by the symmetry wet my feet in the drainage canal, played on the of the lands divided into square plots. The small solid dusty road, watched the trees dance with the drainage canal passing to the side, very close, was a waves of wind composed so sensitively by nature, picture that even though the years pass, stays fresh lay on the grass, and touched the sky—without in my memory, just as on the day I saw it. realizing it was already lunch time. “A green square, two, three, a yellow square, On the side of the plot, we sat in the deep shade another green square,” I said to myself, while my of a tall non-fruit tree with regular, circular crown. uncle greeted all the passers-by who went to work Our neighbors joined us, laying a blanket there too. their fields too. I gaze, scanning their images to embed them deep I remember the first time when a stranger greetin memory—their tanned skins beaten by the sun ed me heartily. Thoughtful, I asked, “Do you know every day with features darkened by work in the me?” And he just smiled. In field. I look at my white skin, the city the estrangement that still untouched by the scorchstifled my feelings was evident ing sun, but soon to become every day and every minute, like theirs. At least I hoped so. with the toys I did not have, the All opened their own bags old clothes and the torn sneakand placed the food on the ers, often the mockery of othwhite cloth. It was laid with ers that if you were poor you bread, cheese, tomatoes, butshould feel guilty, despised, and ter, jam, onions, and leeks. I In my ashamed. In my grandmother’s had rarely seen such a varied grandmother’s magic village we were all the lunch. I realized that we all same: colorless, yellow, black, could get to eat whatever we magic village we brown, or white—barefoot, wanted from that spread, and were all the same: in old woven clothes, most of that more than food sustained colorless, yellow, the time dusty, but happy, very the vitality an goodness of black, brown, or happy. Everyone greeted everythose hardworking, generous one in that village. people. white—barefoot, in The cart stopped. Here we By eating, talking, sharing old woven clothes, would spend the day, Uncle their problems with farming, most of the time told me. “I need to harvest a lot asking each other for help dusty, but happy, of alfalfa, and if I finish soon I when needed, sharing family will clean the weeds that have problems, those good people very happy. sprouted among the corn.” eased each other’s worries—or “Is this angel your nephew?” maybe they were not really we heard from a nearby plot of worries for them, just common land. routine problems. In the plots around us there I think it is an unwritten law were three women and a man of the poor to share even the that I could not see clearly. last morsel of bread. The blan“So why did they come to ket of white bread enveloped our land?” I asked? I remember my uncle laughing me too whenever darkness covered me. I remember and telling me that here we only had two plots, one that precious spread. with corn and one with alfalfa, while they were our Now I stand here stunned with nostalgia. The neighbors who had the lands next to us. memories sadden and make me happy like a two“How are they our neighbors when they do not sided medal. On the solid ground, compacted with have houses next to us?” I asked surprised. “They the soil constantly trampled by carts, horses, sheep, also have yellow plots while we only have two green and cattle, I stand chic, nifty, elegant, silent. plots.” Uncle laughed wholeheartedly for a few We were many. We had little. We did not ask minutes, then told me that we also had wheat plots much. We had much. but not here. His smile accompanied him throughRFD 189 Spring 2022

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Queer Farming by Sigh Moon

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arming and “Permaculture” and Wildtending, oh my! Water. Everything always comes back to water. Learning how food grows on lush tropical Indigenous sovereign stolen lands on the islands of Hawaii, where everything we plant bursts forth with such vigor eventually comes down to water. Taro, flooding, waterways, rain. Where is the water? How is water used? Who “owns” water? Who manipulates water? Learning about seasonal traditional food tending in the beautiful mountainous steppes of the great Klamath Nation in occupied “southern Oregon”, the pathways as well as the politics focus around water. Water from the sky, and deep in the earth. I’ve learned that this earth is a garden and that we are part of the tending process, and can relearn to be a blessing to the land we are on and partaking of. This is what colonization and empire, also known as civilization, has taken from us. This is what we lost. This is what needs to be remembered and reclaimed. The western white settler colonist mentality which most of us were raised in, with its self hating, warlike, take-and-not-give cultural standards, has tried its hardest to kill what is intrinsic and native to our nature and hearts…our connection, love and care for each other and the land we occupy. Slowly sinking, and spreading like water. For me, resting, listening, and being curious about place has yielded many wonderful fruits. Following the words and footprints of the diverse people holding information about these traditional ways has been such an interesting, bewildering, and life-altering journey. I’ve found myself in many wonderful and sometimes very challenging situations. Giving myself the time and opportunity to engage in learning what are being called “ancestral” 44 RFD 189 Spring 2022

skills, and Traditional Ecological Knowledge based land tending has been paradigm-changing and eyeopening to say the least. People are calling it “Wildtending.” My companions have walked alongside me through many adventures in this life. There have been so many changes in such a brief time here on earth. To get informed on and to see what great accomplishments that we as a species have made to benefit our environment, then to witness us as destroyer is amazing and gut-wrenching. It’s an interesting mingling of such deep grief, and inspired desire for a different sort of beingness. It is often difficult to not be driven to a sort of desperation or madness of sorts. To be so helpless and yet wish to make small steps, and also to do it with a group and somehow in a good way. Where are the ways though? Such wonders and also many interesting pitfalls. The technology for land-tending often comes down to principals of water. Again, water. Using living beings (our plant friends) in the processes of slowing, spreading, and sinking water. Natural proclivities of where different species of edible plants grow most easily and vigorously and how they create and effect the landscape. So in most senses, what is most easy is the way. Planting back what we eat, growing and helping all gardens to flourish. What creates the most abundance in the long term and furthers the cycles already in place, is the way. Hard to see in our world of mass agriculture and strip mines and endless acres of trees planted only for their use as wood. So where does the water rush through in your physical or figurative landscape? How can we gather and plant our necessities deep in the places we love and be nurturers tenders and gardeners of the earth we are of? And how do we learn these things and Photographs courtesy the author.


implement their activity with our hands and bodies without owning and claiming them in a way that reenacts our white settler/colonist training? My answer is that I don’t know. I’ve experienced it as being much harder than I can fathom for so many reasons. Millions of miles of rusting barbed wire fences, guns pointed in all directions and ideas of legality. The issues of inequality in our system of diverse privilege are all around us. The reality to even safely access places or sometimes exist is a complex maze set up for us to negotiate and navigate. And it is a trap. Empire and city state and war…it’s been going a long time. Being a homeless sort of nomadic traveler has always been my way. Planting food as I go and making friends and community to access places to grow food and garden has always been important to me. Having a skill to offer like massage for access to money and having a younger body to get around in and as an attractant to interact was very helpful. But we all age. We all die. What are we doing here on earth? In a culture in a place like the so-called “USA”, many of us do not have access to land to tend. Our ideas of land and what tending means have been highly infiltrated. There are lots of ways to investigate into, unspin, review, relearn, and reveal what has been done to us and to the land we are now of, then to become a part of it. Take take take. Maybe tend tend tend could be a viable alternative? The ideologies of social justice and cultural reform

are so wonderful and beyond important. I wonder though, without a connection to the land, the earth, the home of our humanness and our hearts and life, how can these crucial ideologies become social policies that show us the deep truth of the mission they seem to me to point to? Connection. Equality. Sharing. Love. Community. Trust. Home. Can they show us these things without the infestation of the war and rape culture we have all been embroiled and encoded in, trained and normalized to our entire lives? I have no idea. For those of us with a deep and dire need to connect with the vital force of the earth what do we do? It’s in everything I see all around me. Films. Farming tactics. War tactics. Social interactions. Our emotions. The way we see our bodies and each other and the land. Our sexuality and the way we are able receive and give pleasure. All deeply infiltrated and controlled. I don’t like it. Humans have been tender tenders and lovers and free for many many hundreds of thousands of years. Eons. The white supremacist myths we are being fed as “history” are not truth. For me it is a day-to-day unfolding. A day-to-day mystery. In the face of the mega-fires behind me bringing the forests and meadows I’ve been falling in love with to a state of ash and beginning again, to the persons wearing MAGA hats and “amerikkka” flags, to the semi-automatic rifle sounds around me, the lack of human touch, and the general gruff unkindness of our culture in the western rural “USA,” it is very difficult to bring the joyful, dancing non-gender binary

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spirit that I am to the people. I realize that I, in very many ways, am supported by the epic privileges I hold with the color of this skin and the shape of my body and the form of my genitals. Even so, neuro-divergence, certain traumas, ancestral working, personal complexity, heartbreak, “gender” non-normativity, being fae in rural “Merka” with all its cages and lessons can just seem “crazy.” But we are not supposed to use that word. What did they say to say again? “Psych stuff?” Oh yes. Between trying to survive the far-right and the rural culture and the fear of constant harm the complex and highly traumatized new and old guard queer scene and the realities of the harm to the environment around me, going bonkers seems like a natural reaction. Or maybe going prayerful. Deep feelings, often. And the song of the early morning birds. The longing for companionship and community. So how to invite or entice or share the weird real-

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ity of this way of being and seeing? Hopping from planting midsummer camas seeds dropping like beautiful black pearls into the surprisingly still-moist, rich soil under my digging knife, to marvelous steaming sex parties at now disbanded faerie spaces, to moonlit ritual magic song circles of concentric connection, to shaping mimics of beaver dams and planting sugar pine, to candlelit tarot strewn desire circle evenings in far-off mountain caves… to find a solid connection between the worlds. To weave this with others. To not just be the wandering mad, the hopeless romantic. The babbling “nature” person always looking for the romance in a pandemic of our apathy and hope. “Lalala,” as a friend says. “Lalala.” Life goes on. Come bearing gifts. Carry your own weight as best you can. Give everything its opportunity for life. Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

Photograph courtesy the author.


Flags

Pure Joy

Those fucking flags Navy with white font Make me nauseous As we pass them On the country roads That lead to our Hidden paradise. I counted four today When we drove To the feed store.

Sometimes the chickens are enough.

Those fucking flags The yellow ones With the snake. The confederate. What are they thinking, tonight? Should I be preparing? I suppose gun shots are normal out here But I can’t get used to them. And when will the neighbors Know who we are? Can we keep them From finding out? I met Mike. He wants to be your buddy. He wants you to join his gun club. Who does he think I am to you? Or Steve who shot a deer who limped onto our property Do Mike and Steve talk at the gun club? Have they seen us holding hands In our pickup In the parking lot of Tractor Supply?

The four fat ones tottle out of their coop to munch on the grass and slurp up worms, their enormous bodies almost covering their orange scaly legs and feet. Like obese dinosaurs they roam among the dandelions, running and flapping with pure joy, or huddling down in the dirt, rotund bodies pressed together to wiggle and shake and throw dirt in the air. It lands on me as I try to keep a straight face on my Zoom call. One finds a crunchy June bug and the others abandon their demure nature to peck at her beak trying to secure a taste. They buck and groan and chortle talking amongst each other between bites of blades of grass as a mild breeze blows through the yard rustling their cream-colored feathers. —Elliott DeLine

You hug me tight And say we’ll be just fine. I agree that’s a lot of “what ifs.” This is our land. This is our dream But those fucking flags. Those fucking flags. Those fucking flags. —Elliott DeLine

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Poetic Legacies by Frankiln Abbott

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ontinuing on the theme of legacy, RFD presents six additional gay poets who have new books. Walter Holland’s “Reconstruction” is a reflection on his childhood in the segregated South. South African poet Marcellus Muthien in “The Exiled Heart” delves into his exile from apartheid and his life in the UK and Italy. Don Perryman’s collection, “Hearts Bigger than Brazil” is drawn from his life as a writer over decades, his love of nature and men. Kevin Simmonds, who is both a poet and a composer, writes about the great opera diva Leontyne Price

in his new collection, “The Monster I am Today: Leontyne Price and a Life In Verse.” C. Dale Young speaks in the voice of “a child of fire” about the complex relationship between trauma and multi-ethnicity in “Prometeo.” And Steven Reigns explores one of the great forensic mysteries of the AIDS epidemic in “A Quilt for David.” Please be intrigued by their work and support them as well as our five previous poets, Dustin Brookshire, Daniel Hernandez, Mose Hardin, Marvin E. Hiemstra and Young Hughley but seeking out their books and finding them online.

Walter Holland is the author of four poetry collections: Reconstruction (Finishing Line Press, 2021); Circuit (Chelsea Station Editions, 2010); Transatlantic (Painted Leaf Press, 2001); and A Journal of the Plague Years: Poems 1979-1992 (Magic City Press, 1992). His novel, The March, was published in October, 1996 by Masquerade Books and a second revised edition was published by Chelsea Station Editions in 2011. His poems have been published in many anthologies, most notably Poets for Life: Seventy-Six Poets Respond to AIDS in 1989; The Columbia Anthology of Gay Literature in 1989; Poetic Voices Without Borders in 2005; Stonewall’s Legacy: A Poetry Anthology in 2019; and A Day Without Art: Special Anniversary Edition also in 2019. His dissertation The Calamus Root: American Gay Male Poetry Since World War II can be accessed online via the Graduate Center CUNY website and has been used as a research tool by scholars worldwide numerous times since 1998. Some of his recent poetry credits include: Exquisite Pandemic, HIV Here and Now, Cutbank Literary Journal, About Place Journal, Mollyhouse, and A&U: America’s AIDS Magazine. His book reviews have appeared frequently in Pleiades, Lambda Literary Review, and Rain Taxi and his essays in numerous fine journals. For more information visit: www.walterhollandwriter.com.

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Photographs courtesy the authors.


Oslo A body white as the snows of Norway seen in an eighth-grade film— my love for the boy, born in Bergen, just arrived. Oslo’s port, the ship and steamers hauling their cast nets with fish—Industry, Commerce, Products for Export—listening to the old narrator on film— as its thin strips tangled, moved apart, the looping way of all desires continuously streaming out of the mind, approximations in dark and light. His towering chest and wan waist— I knew him from the gym showers after he’d return and stand by the tiles of wet white— once stranded in a house in Richmond, a school trip, in my single bed I passed the night not far from him, hearing his breath and seeing the stone curve of his vaulter’s arm. What is the northernmost reach of memory? Does it move with the weight of his form? Year after year, in slow descent, the smooth progression of desire’s storm? “Could have,” “would have”—how the captains guided their boats through the pale fiord packets of letters to remotest towns—foghorn, sea— then empty frame, sudden bleakness unreeling to the ground. —Walter Holland

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Marcellus Muthien is a Black South African and British poet exiled under Apartheid to Italy and the UK. He qualified as a clinical psychologist and practiced until his return to South Africa in 2002. He compiled a brief selection of his poetry in The Exiled Heart in June 2020, which otherwise would have been lost to the world, due to the risk of being a frontline worker at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Being surprised that he is still alive, he continues to practice the art of poetry and psychology in Hermanus, South Africa.

England And weary I stumbled onto your shores from the surf an unwanted shell the sea had spat out and even as I pleaded for your hostilities to stop and prayed to you: let those who are without sin be the first to cast a stone the rocks rained down on me

Don Perryman is a retired Fulton County high school teacher of English, living with his BrazilianAmerican husband in Roswell, Ga. Poetry has been Don’s life-long pastime and passion, as well as his most reliable therapy, except maybe for adventures into the wilderness, mostly around the Southeast. His one published book, Hearts Bigger than Brazil, tells about all that and more. The greatest goal left on his bucket list these days is Greece, the Parthenon in particular.

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Last stanza of “Bucket Lists” So if it’s pyramids on your personal list, or a pot of beef stew with crispy cornbread made like Mama used to make or a flitting glimpse of an almost-extinct bird not reported on in years, feel free to join me here in a happy, lucky life of hopeful anticipation sensing somehow (don’t you?) that you can’t take it with you, whatever it is you’re hanging on to – or for.

Photographs courtesy the authors.


“In the urgent spirit of those who have sought to unearth and celebrate the combined wealth of archived, preserved, and inherited histories of African American lives, Kevin Simmonds has produced an intimate, iconic, and wonderfully lyrical accounting of the life and art of Leontyne Price. . . . By laying bare his own admiration of Price, and by doing so with emotional and intellectual honesty and intimacy, Simmonds tells us why we should value her. Price is an American treasure of genius and humanity, and in The Monster I Am Today, Simmonds reminds us of his own singular value to American letters.”

simmonds

Kevin Simmonds is a musician and writer originally from New Orleans. He is the author of the poetry and prose hybrid The Monster I am Today: Leontief Price and a Life in Verse, two poetry collections, Mad for Meat and BendL to It, and the editor of Collective Brightness: LGBTIQ Poets on Faith, Religion and Spirituality and Ota Benga under My Mother’s Roof. He lives in San Francisco.

kevin simmonds

—Kwame Dawes, author of Nebraska: Poems

“Each of us has a personal diva—or should. Leontyne Price is the greatest singer our country produced in the twentieth century. How fitting that she should continue to receive her flowers while she still dwells among us. Kevin Simmonds’s intelligent and open homage to ‘the god-object of her voice’ is pitch perfect and a valuable lesson to future singers on how their art functions beyond their control, shaping the life of each listener in profound ways.”

eontyne Price remains one of the twentieth century’s most revered opera singers and, notably, the first African American to achieve such international acclaim. In movements encompassing poetry and prose, writer and musician Kevin Simmonds explores Price as an icon, a diva, a woman, and a patriot—and himself as a fan, a budding singer, and a queer man—through passages moving polyphonically through the contested spaces of Black identity, Black sound, Black sensibility, and Black history.

KeVin simmonDs is a musician and writer originally from New Orleans. He studied music at Vanderbilt University and the University of South Carolina. He is the author of two poetry collections, Mad for Meat and Bend to It, and the editor of Collective Brightness: LGBTIQ Poets on Faith, Religion & Spirituality and Ota Benga under My Mother’s Roof, a posthumously published collection by Carrie Allen McCray.

Front cover: Leontyne Price in Samuel Barber’s Antony and Cleopatra. Photograph courtesy of The Metropolitan Opera.

Poetry / Essay

the monster i am today the monster i am today

—Dante Micheaux, author of Circus

Leontyne Price and a Life in Verse

US $20.00

Cover design by Marianne Jankowski www.nupress.northwestern.edu

UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT

TO: FROM: RE:

DIRECTOR, FBI FIELD AGENT LEONTYNE PRICE

DATE: MAY 29, 1952

The SUBJECT starred in performances of composer VIRGIL THOMSON’S opera “Four Saints in Three Acts” tonight and last night to enthusiastic audiences. The State Department financed the adaptation, as well as the entire festival, and Festival Secretary, composer NICOLAS NABOKOV, a Soviet émigré and United States citizen, and first cousin of noted novelist VLADIMIR NABOKOV, also a Soviet émigré and United States citizen, helped convince PRICE to participate. This cast of negroes should forestall criticisms of the negro problem. Deceased sex deviant GERTRUDE STEIN wrote the libretto, and THOMSON, also a sex deviant, was in attendance. PRICE is soon to marry singer WILLIAM WARFIELD, who appears in last year’s MGM remake of “Showboat” as the character who sings “Ole Man River,” but omits the lyrics, “Niggers all work on de Mississippi, Niggers all work while de white folks play,” which were sung by known Negro Communist PAUL ROBESON in the 1936 Universal Pictures version. The Security Index Card concerning the subject is being maintained.

UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT

TO: DIRECTOR, FBI FROM: FIELD AGENT RE: LEONTYNE PRICE

DATE: FEBRUARY 28, 1965

Famous singer LEONTYNE PRICE made her CARNEGIE HALL DEBUT tonight. Sang two songs by female Negro composer MARGARET BONDS who she called “a very good friend of mine” before singing “Lord, I Just Can’t Keep from Crying Sometimes” and “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” BONDS is a long-time associate and close friend of famous Negro poet LANGSTON HUGHES, a known homosexual, who has ties to Communist-related groups going back to at least 1932 when he traveled to the Soviet Union with 22 other negros to act in a film. Then in 1933, he was the principal speaker at a luncheon at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo where he predicted a time will come when all the colored races would join in subjugating whites. This “alleged” poet remains a Communist. Although his more recent writings are less boldly subversive, see 3/13/41 L.A. File 100-1960 to read his poem “Goodbye Christ.” This information is furnished for whatever value it may possess. RFD 189 Spring 2022 51


C. Dale Young is the author of The Affliction (a novel) and five collections of poetry, the most recent of which is Prometeo (2021). A recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation, he practices medicine full-time and teaches in the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers. He lives in San Francisco.

Pastiche Deep in the fields, the greenish stalks were twice my height, a forest for one who had not seen the likes of oaks or birches. Sugar’s vice hung in the air, its sweetness somewhere between a pastry and decay. In memory, the cane opened its arms allowing a boy to escape. But memory lies so well, the fields of cane as much a trap as any means of escape. Too young to wield a machete, far too young, I vanished down the endless rows of cane, my mother screaming out for me to stop. The yard hands hacked out space to plant the young. For them, what safety there among the cane. For me, it’s where I learned to beg a man to stop.

Steven Reigns is a Los Angeles poet and educator and was appointed as the first Poet Laureate of West Hollywood. Alongside over a dozen chapbooks, he has published the collections Inheritance and Your Dead Body is My Welcome Mat. Reigns holds a BA in Creative Writing from the University of South Florida, a Master of Clinical Psychology from Antioch University, and is a fourteen-time recipient of The Los Angeles County’s Department of Cultural Affairs’ Artist in Residency Grant. He edited My Life is Poetry, showcasing his students’ work from the first-ever autobiographical poetry workshop for LGBT seniors. Reigns has lectured and taught writing workshops around the country to LGBT youth and people living with HIV. Currently he is touring The Gay Rub, an exhibition of rubbings from LGBT landmarks, facilitates the monthly Lambda Lit Book Club. His newest collection A Quilt for David is published by City Lights and is the product of ten years of research regarding dentist David Acer’s life. 52 RFD 189 Spring 2022

(excerpt) I’d sew a quilt for you. I would grab a needle, put the thread in my mouth, moistening the fibers together. I’d pierce into the eye. I’d hem, back stitch, side stitch a remembrance of you. I’d put your name in large letters wanting no one to forget you died of it too. I’d sew you into that larger quilt because no one else has. I’d select patterns, design a quilt representing your lifelong loves. Kimberly has four panels, photos, and a large starfish. I’d sew for you, thimble on my thumb, push the threaded needle through the fabric. If I’d prick my finger and bleed, I wouldn’t regret a single drop of blood or effort.

Photographs courtesy the authors.


Top: "Flower Fag." Bottom: "Flower Boy." Artworks by Emerson Gray.

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Photographs by Gavin Dillard.


Notes From a Marriage Poems and Photos

by Gavin Geoffrey Dillard

I

Foreword from the book

was on book tour in Los Angeles and had just given a reading at the old Unicorn Bookstore in West Hollywood, when I noticed a handsome young man wearing white pants and a colorful Hawaiian shirt completely unbuttoned. Several people had grabbed my attention but I turned to him and said, “We’ll talk in a minute. And by the way, don’t button that shirt for the next ten years.” Later we did talk and he told me he had a sheaf of poetry titled Notes From a Marriage he wanted to send me, and for my SeaHorse Press to publish. By then SeaHorse had put out two successful books of poetry, my own The Deformity Lover in 1977, and Dennis Cooper’s Idols in 1979. A few months later, he sent me the poetry. I read it through and enjoyed it. But I don’t think he was expecting my reply. I wrote, “I like this poetry very much. But I think you should wait a few months, add to it, and send it back to me.” My reasoning was that he had written of an affair that—in the words of the old song—was “too hot/not to cool down.” I was right. I received a full manuscript of the earlier poems, and the ones after the breakup. Then it was a perfect book. Gavin sent me a great photo of himself, and I found a beautiful black and white photo by the author John Preston to use on the cover, and I set it in a pastel green surround. There were several but not enough good reviews. But Notes From a Marriage sold and sold, year after year. I found it on the checkout shelves of many gay bookstores, near the cash register—especially around Christmas and Valentines Day. I think it totaled 7500 copies (!) before SeaHorse Press ended and I moved west. —Felice Picano Photograph by Andrew Wayne.

A

Introduction from the book

lthough photography has been a constant thread throughout my life—since falling in adoration with Diane Arbus in high school and acquiring my first double-lens reflex camera—it has unfortunately not been a constant. It is a seemingly random tragedy that some of my favorite friends and loves I never shot—and yet some of my favorite shots are of people I hardly knew. And, sadly, my love, Raymond Kallas, for whom the text of this collection was written, I never photographed, largely because he never would have posed and probably would have beat me mercilessly had I tried whilst he was unaware. At least half the fellows in this book, like Raymond, succumbed to the plague oh so many years ago. Others I have lost over time, and some I cannot even recall the names of. I will also note that while some of the men depicted herein were lovers, some were not; some are queer, others not. All but one or two are gone from my life, as is my Mariposa farm— I now reside in Graybead Abbey, my very sweet tea plantation in Black Mountain, NC. As per names, I am leaving that blank. Some I know, some I don’t. But my point being that the photographs are meant to depict the universal lover, as does now the text—albeit originally written for one precious love—a love that, due to time and space, lasted but three delirious months in a basement flat on San Francisco’s legendary Haight Street. As such, I dedicate this book to not only Ray Kallas, and to the men of whom I have images, but to all the nameless lovers in time, named and unnamed, who have touched hearts, souls, and the noodling minds of artists and poets throughout time. —Gavin Geoffrey Dillard RFD 189 Spring 2022 55


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Photographs by Gavin Dillard.

RFD 189 Spring 2022 57


A Previous Life—by Edmund White Review by Leo Racicot

Publisher: Bloomsbury Press (25 January 2022) Language: English Hardcover: 288 pages

A

Previous Life is unlike anything Edmund White has written, In fact, for the first thirty pages or so, I was sure the work couldn’t be White’s. But then the hallmarks of his style emerged: the easy juggling of plotline intricacies, the multi-character interactions, the trademark allusions to world art, classical composers, opera – White could handily depose Ken Jennings on Jeopardy so vast is his knowledge of culture, politics, history. At the center of his story: a married couple, Ruggero and Constance, two people very much in love who nevertheless want and need to explore other desires. This opens the door to multiple characters, each a composite drawn from those people White has known, or now knows. White is possessed of sprezzatura, that magic act of inhabiting so fully his characters, their milieus, the reader is easily, instantly drawn to them. For example, with an economy of brush strokes, White paints an indelible portrait of Ruggero’s grandfather; I will remember this fellow for years to come. There are unafraid depictions of the first stirrings of malemale adolescent lust, a lust never to be recaptured, the way a kid’s first Christmas morning or the first springtimes of our lives can never be recaptured no matter how hard we try. Yet White recaptures them in sentences so exquisitely executed, they shimmer like the first rush of blood from a fresh wound. White is a magician at encapsulating complex emotions in a brief sentence or two: “We were as formal as strangers at a funeral, mourners who’ve heard of one another but never met, our grief all that we shared…” In White’s examinations of the various forms love can take, gender is fluid, sexuality, more fluid. In fact, gender goes the way of the wind as characters dive in and out of their desires: hurting, forgiving, hurting, forgiving, learning, understanding, not understanding, in an endless roundelay of sexual exploration. White has never been shy about tossing a paragraph or more of pornography into his literature; he knows sex can get messy. For what does most love become but a happy ascension into 58 RFD 189 Spring 2022

utter degeneracy? White even incorporates himself as a character in his book. In lesser hands than his, this could have been a crashing conceit. In this master writer’s hands, it is playful, mischievous, epiphanal. Bravo! With A Previous Life, the author has bottled the genie of that most elusive of literary forms, the dual memoir, a splendid, refreshing, freewheeling elixir. This treatise on love and lust, on the limitations society imposes on the aged, the limitations we, the aged, impose on ourselves, celebrates aging’s refusal to let go of the rope of love though the rope is beginning to tatter. The book is racily articulate, intimately sophisticated and knowing, fully actualized, its architecture sound, superb even, its themes timeless. It goes down easy; I stayed drunk on its many pleasures for days.


Crocuses The fields aren’t the same without you. The threat of fire catching a spark hisses each time two thirsty blades of grass cricket-wing in the pallid wind moping for rain. The myalgia of your absence has scorched deep into the farmland of my shoulders, my back. The flatness of this land is unrepentant. You flicker in the horizon every time I pray. The weight of unforgiveness is hell. The shoulder straps on my backpack threaten to break. How I long to pour one bucket of water after another into your embittered arms until you bloom a crown of crocuses. —Raymond Luczak

The Planting Trees everywhere remind me of him, the tree which could’ve grown. Instead what we’d planted some years—or was it a year ago?—died, spiting warm and balmy days. No matter: it died. Its stillness left me a zombie, a poet in search of soothing lines … Somehow I’ve survived. The seeds are shedding skins in halves, tiny cells almost frozen in twilight: How cold I’d felt, his chill seeping in my bed, ice against my will. His eyes rendered my rage mute. I’ve haunted streets for signs of hope; anything might’ve served to give me some understanding why it died, drooping from mishandling, lack of water and sunlight. The questions of loss had marked my passing of seasons with autumn, winter, and spring: No matter how I’d avoided it, it just died. Dreams of nurturing forests in our life together froze with winter’s breath, unfulfilled moments never letting go. This, I’ve learned: the seasons return, little by little, what I’d lost in the planting that summer. Everything surrenders to hope, a replenishing of love’s losses. —Raymond Luczak

RFD 189 Spring 2022 59


Farmer’s Son Carmen stepped out with this cornstalk from the neighboring field, one the neighboring harvester had missed. It whispered its name, he couldn’t repeat or spell it but it did bring a smile and that was enough for Carmen so one day he and the cornstalk went on a picnic, danced through the crow-littered stubble, the two of them as described by our neighbors actually looked like a double, Carmen himself mostly skin and bone but it was the shadows, or should I say shadow they cast in the harvest moonlight that convinced us they’d already become one. —Charles Springer

Bareback Charlie’s got this new horse, actually it’s an old nag that, thanks to Charlie, barely escaped the glue factory. He keeps it out in his backyard where it seems to have the run of the place. It’s the only thing that does run out there except for a feral tom. Every morning and evening Charlie rides his horse bareback around the perimeter. The neighbors have asked Charlie to at least put on some underwear. It’s becoming harder and harder to see where he ends and his horse begins. Last week Charlie started trick riding, you know, jockeying from side to side, trotting backwards, the occasional shoulder stand. He even got his horse to rise up on his hind legs and prance. Some of us think both Charlie and his horse should move out of the neighborhood but Charlie assures us he has gone about as far as he can go and then’s when his horse whinnied us over to the fence and started telling us his side of the story and quite convincingly, mainly that Charlie was the one needing rescuing. —Charles Springer

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Memories of the D&R two men work a garden plot side by side on their land this canopy of bird netting keeping jays off the berries the fence to discourage deer fertilizer, water, weeding in the overheated summer hoping everything grows safe until time to reap harvest then to the farmers markets the long trip down to town steep ride home with money warming in their pockets dinner out on the deck the wood-burning hot tub stars fill the expanse of sky two men fill each other’s arms — M. J. Arcangelini

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Granny’s Kitchen The banister is my ride from upstairs, turnstiling through the hallway to Granny’s kitchen to greet the heralding smells of bacon, toast, waffles and fruit from the garden. The thin lattice windows slice the sunlight into rays, illuminating each dust particle. Light chatter among adults. Kids still sleepy, only caring what there is to eat and finding a spot out of the sun, able to see the dust scatter as Granny’s nightgown and robe pass through. She’s in command in her quiet laughter, opening up the window to the day. —Stephen Schwei

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Pergola My vines entwined around your posts and beams of weathered wood the sun had silvered gray. My trunk extends its arms, your trellis teams with viridescent leaves throughout the day. The hungry children broke your lower rail. They stood upon it, grasping grapes that hung beyond their reach. A branch observes the trail you left behind and forms a living rung. Through time and rain and rays, your lattice rots. Unpruned, my tendrils overtake your cage. They tied suspended splintered parts with knots, replacing rafters crumbling due to age. You gave support to give my life a chance. I lend support to grant your death a dance.

—Andre Le Mont Wilson

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W Issue 191 / Fall 2022

QUEER RELATIVES Submission Deadline: July 21, 2022 www.rfdmag.org/upload

All of us have some connection to queer relatives, be they actually LGBTQI or not. So we’re asking readers to delve into their family relations—siblings, parents, cousins, aunts and uncles or grandparents who shared some queer story, a shared sexuality, a coming out, a transition. Alternatively, you can share how your queer identity influenced a relative to come to their queer senses. We would also love hear how relatives have odd or mysterious stories that made them stand out in your family tree. We love storytelling about odd uncles and twisted sisters.

Meanwhile, some of us shape family outside of blood relatives and so we welcome stories about found family, new kinships.

We are looking for stories, poems, artwork and photographs, which show our queer kin, people who helped shape our own narratives by reflecting on their experiences. So let us honor ancestors, close siblings, distant cousins, beloved kin and the cantankerous grannies.

Unidentified subject from glass plate negative, c. 1895, courtesy Matt Bucy.

RFD 189 Spring 2022 65


a readercreated gay quarterly celebrating queer diversity 66 RFD 189 Spring 2022


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