Pure Poetry #30: These Poems Are Gay, Just Like You

Pure Poetry Week(s):

#1 – 2/23/2011 – Intro & Def Poetry Jam, by Riese
#2 – 2/23/2011 – Eileen Myles, by Carmen
#3 – 2/23/2011 – Anis Mojgani, by Crystal
#4 – 2/24/2011 – Andrea Gibson, by Carmen & Katrina/KC Danger
#5 – 2/25/2011 – Leonard Cohen, by Crystal
#6 – 2/25/2011 – Staceyann Chin, by Carmen
#7 – 2/25/2011 – e.e. cummings, by Intern Emily
#8 – 2/27/2011 – Louise Glück, by Lindsay
#9 – 2/28/2011 – Shel Silverstein, by Intern Lily & Guest
#10 – 2/28/2011 – Michelle Tea, by Laneia
#11 – 2/28/2011 – Saul Williams, by Katrina Chicklett Danger
#12 – 3/2/2011 – Maya Angelou, by Laneia
#13 – 3/4/2011 – Jack Spicer, by Riese
#14 – 3/5/2011 – Diane DiPrima, by Sady Doyle
#15 – 3/6/2011 – Pablo Neruda, by Intern Laura
#16 – 3/7/2011 – Vanessa Hidary, by Lindsay
#17 – 3/7/2011 – Adrienne Rich, by Taylor
#18 – 3/8/2011 – Raymond Carver, by Riese
#19 – 3/9/2011 – Rock WILK, by Gabrielle
#20 – 3/9/2011 – Veronica Franco, by Queerie Bradshaw
#22 – 3/12/2011 – William Carlos Williams & Robert Creeley, by Becky
#23 – 3/13/2011 – NSFW Sunday is Pure Poetry Edition, by Riese
#24 – 3/14/2011 – Charles Bukowski, by Intern Emily
#25 – 3/16/2011 – Rainer Maria Rilke, by Riese
#26 – 3/17/2011 – Lee Harwood by Mari
#27 – 3/18/2011 – Jeffrey McDaniel by Julieanne
#28 – 3/20/2011 – Dorothy Porter by Julia
#29 – 3/21/2011 – Sylvia Plath, by Riese
#30 – 3/24/2011 – Poems About Being a Homogay, by Riese

Today’s special edition of Pure Poetry contains a variety of poems from lots of different lesbos, a bisexual or two and one dude about the experience of being a giant lez. For more on lesbian poets, check out Ten Lesbian & Bisexual Poets To Fall in Love With.

For The Straight Folks Who Don’t Mind Gays But Wish They Weren’t So Blatant

by Pat Parker

You know, some people got a lot of nerve.
Sometimes I don’t believe the things I see and hear.

Have you met the woman who’s shocked by two women kissing
and in the same breath, tells you she is pregnant?
BUT gays, shouldn’t be so blatant.

Or this straight couple sits next to you in a movie and
you can’t hear the dialogue because of the sound effects.
BUT gays shouldn’t be so blatant.

And the woman in your office spends an entire lunch hour
talking about her new bikini drawers and how much
her husband likes them.
BUT gays shouldn’t be so blatant.

Or the “hip” chick in your class rattling like a mile a minute
while you’re trying to get stoned in the john, about the
camping trip she took with her musician boyfriend.
BUT gays shouldn’t be so blatant.

You go in a public bathroom and all over the walls there’s John loves
Mary, Janice digs Richard, Pepe loves Delores, etc., etc.
BUT gays shouldn’t be so blatant.

Or you go to an amusement park and there’s a tunnel of love
and pictures of straights painted on the front and grinning
couples are coming in and out.
BUT gays shouldn’t be so blatant.

Fact is, blatant heterosexuals are all over the place.
Supermarkets, movies, on your job, in church, in books, on television every day
day and night, every place-even- in gay bars and they want gay
men and woman to go and hide in the closet.

So to you straight folks I say, “Sure, I’ll go if you go too”
BUT I’m polite so, after you.

personal ad
from Pelt, by Daphne Gottlieb

via queerbrownxx.tumblr.com

Your anatomy
could be
our destiny.
You have:
2 aorta
hot, red and sweet
2 ventricles
that suck and pump;
4 chambers
that make
you throb

Make a fist.
They say your fist
is roughly
the size of your heart.
I’m looking for
the well-hung woman.

Changing What We Mean

by Eloise Klein Healy

Turning your back, you button your blouse. That’s new.
You redirect the conversation. A man
has entered it. Your therapist has given you
permission to discuss this with me, the word
you’ve been looking for in desire.
You can now say “heterosexual” with me. We mean

different things when we say it. I mean
the life I left behind forever. For you, it’s a new
beginning, a stab at being normal again, a desire
to enter the world with a man
instead of a woman, and of course, there’s the word
you won’t claim for yourself anymore, you

who have children to think of, you
who have put me in line behind them and mean
to keep the order clear. It’s really my word
against yours anymore in this new
language, in this battle over how a man
is about to enter this closed room of desire

we’ve gingerly exchanged keys to, but desire
isn’t what’s at issue anyway, you
say to me. Instead I learn a man
can protect you in a way a woman only means
to but never can, and my world is too new
when there’s real life out there, word

after word for how normal looks, each word
cutting like scissors a profile of desire—
a man facing a woman, nothing particularly new
or interesting to me. I’ve wanted only to face you
and the world simultaneously, say what I mean
with my body, my choice to not be a man,

to be a woman with you, forget the man’s
part or how his body is the word
for what touch can contain, what love means.
If this were only about desire,
you say, I’d still desire you.
But it isn’t passion we’re defining, new

consequences emerge when a man and desire
are part of the words we hurl, you
changing how you mean loving—this terrible final news.


A private public space
by Bob Hicok

You can’t trust lesbians. You invite them

to your party and they don’t come,
they’re too busy tending vaginal
flowers, hating football, walking their golden
and chocolate labs. X gave me a poem

in which she was in love with a woman
and the church but the church
couldn’t accept four breasts in one bed.
When I asked if our coworkers knew,

she dropped her head and I said nothing
for years until this morning I realized
no one reads poems: my secrets and hers
are safe in verse. I knew she’d have enjoyed

the Beaujolais and I want to meet Dianne,
Mona Lisa, Betty, Alice,
the name’s been changed
to protect women who can’t stand in a room
holding hands because you can’t trust
heterosexuals to love love, however
it comes. So I recorded

the party for her, for them, the mic
a bit away from the action
to catch the feel of waves touching shore
and letting go, the wash of moods
across the hours of drink and yes, some grapes
were thrown and I breathed
the quickening revelation
of a cigarette, someone said “I gave up
underwear for Lent” and I hope

they play the tape while making love.
As if finally the world’s made happy
by who they are, laughing with, not at
the nipple lick clit kiss hug
in bed and after, the on and on
of meals and moons and bills
and burning days of pretending
they don’t exist. “Who’s she? Just

a friend.” And oceans are merely dew
upon the land.


The Floating Poem, Unnumbered
from The Dream of a Common Language by Adrienne Rich

Whatever happens with us, your body
will haunt mine — tender, delicate
your lovemaking, like the half-curled frond
of the fiddlehead fern in forests
just washed by sun. Your traveled, generous thighs
between which my whole face has come and come —
the innocence and wisdom of the place my tongue has found there —
the live, insatiable dance of your nipples in my mouth —
your touch on me, firm, protective, searching
me out, your strong tongue and slender fingers
reaching where I had been waiting years for you
in my rose-wet cave–whatever happens, this is.


First Fig
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!

We Could Be Soulmates

from The Beautiful by Michelle Tea

bree grant via detroitbred.tumblr.com

hey now tall girl
aren’t you bored
all by yourself in your mess room
smoking pot till your head spins
out of your pillow
don’t you want to be my
sister we can cut
ourselves open and
share what’s inside smear it
altogether so there’s a forever
with my name sliding through
your veins we could be
bloodsisters like two sweaty girls
in a backyard hideout you know
it might sound catholic or
it might sound cliche but you
look like the virgin to me and
i want to be that holy child
chewing at your nipple
i’ve seen you m
moving down valencia your
sharp bones poking at your clothes
when you walk it looks like dancin’ and
hey there tall girl
don’t you know you
sucked the heart right
out of my throat
this is serious
we could be soulmates you
are in my dreams like destiny
got me tossing back shots of whiskey shots
of scotch trying
to get back
to the taste
of your
i’m waxing alcoholic, trying
to get back to the smell
of your mouth
breathe it into my face
like a kind of masturbation
tall girl don’t you know
not to be givin’ tattoos with
your eyes and when you
curl those lips like
the most perfect wave i
wish i was a surfer,
i’m not even blonde i
found a recipe for desperate seduction
in the back of this book you need
cinnamon ground antler and the
pulverized eggshell of an
infertile dove but
it’s enough to call out prayers
for the accident of seeing you
on the street your tall head poking
the sky hey there
tall girl
don’t you want a sister or
at least a cup of


Sappho’s Reply

by Rita Mae Brown

My voice rings down through thousands of years
To coil around your body and give you strength,
You who have wept in direct sunlight,
Who have hungered in invisible chains
Tremble to the cadence of my legacy:
An army of lovers shall not fail.


from If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho
translated by Ann Carson

] of desire
] for when I look at you
] such a Hermione

] and to yellowhaired Helen I liken you
] among mortal women, know this
] from every care
] you could release me

] dewy riverbanks
] to last all night long


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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3223 articles for us.


  1. right on, Riese! you do good work, bringing poetry to the people who needs it. And seeing that Adrienne Rich poem after many a year I remember how those lines helped a 19yr old me say, yeah, whatever happens, this is. thanks, chief.

    • my copy of that book (dream of a common language) still has a post-it note from my friend who gave it to me when i was 18 that i can’t bear to remove: “I thought you might like these ’21 love poems’. I like some of these other ones too. I hope you do. There’s a good used bookstore on 12th st right next to where i work… dangerous. xo”

      • that is so good. so good that you wrote that because I went and found my DITW, which was languishing in a box after my move home this past summer (in a box, because you should never ever leave your books for six years even in a dry basement, because bad things happen to those little lifesavers, and I am still trying to find the best way to get the musty out)
        Anyhow I forgot that the poem you posted was the floating one and there are 21 others. It’s wild to read them again after yep 20 yrs, and see how some of her words (from XI, XXI, etc) were forgotten but really just subsumed into my being. As if I never forgot them, because they just became a part of me back then and went with me along all my winding ways. So thanks again. I think this poetry week impulse is such a good one.

  2. I want to put the poems I have read these past few weeks into a juice box and suck on them. They are like sustenance because they are so full of unedited, unashamed humanity.

  3. That first one sent me into raptures! The picture paired with it probably helped. Then I got down to “Changing What We Mean” and…OUCH. Cuz, yeah.

  4. Wonderful. Thanks for the education.

    “For The Straight Folks Who Don’t Mind Gays But Wish They Weren’t So Blatant” was so true, its pretty much the life of the gay in the straight world.

    “The Floating Poem, Unnumbered” had beautiful sensuous imagery, especially loved the line – “insatiable dance of your nipples in my mouth”

    Reminds me of why I love being with girls – there is nothing more sensuous in nature than the female form.

  5. It’s refreshing that Bob Hicok’s work reminds me that yes, I can like male-identified authors. It IS possible. In fact, it’s quite enjoyable!

    Also, I wish someone had written “We Could Be Soulmates” about me. Michelle Tea is coming to my hood in April and I’m hoping I can fangirl vomit all over her, or something.

  6. True story, Michelle Tea came to speak at my college and I DID fangirl vomit all over her and it was super awkward and embarrassing….

    But not as bad as the time I tried to give Amy Tan a high five. She gave me one, but I could tell her heart wasn’t in it.

    Ugh, why am I such a literature dork!?

  7. ‘If not winter’ is THE most amazing translation of Sappho and I recommend it to allllll autostraddlers :-)

    It’s the fragments only translated with marks to show the gaps, because that’s all we really have. Other translators kind of finish off the poems.

    A pure poetry post on Sappho and the different translations of her would be lovely (hint hint).

  8. i lovelovelove the first one, and the ‘private public space’ -” “Who’s she? Just
    a friend.” And oceans are merely dew
    upon the land.”

    so amazing.

  9. “breathe it into my face
    like a kind of masturbation
    tall girl don’t you know
    not to be givin’ tattoos with
    your eyes”

    I think I could see nothing but those words forever and be happy

  10. For the record, taking turns reading the lines of the “Floating Poem”, “Personal Ad” and others out loud with a girl friend on a Friday night makes for a beautiful evening…..

  11. i enjoy reading and writing poetry… thanks for the inspiration… keep up all the good work that you do!

  12. i wish i had found this sight sooner. it freakin’ rocks my world. i’m gonna have to buy some of these books.

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