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  • Robert L. Giron

Issue 198

This issue features

photography by Littleny,

photography by Robert Revere,

poetry by Craig Cotter,

fiction by DC Diamondopolous,

photography by Robert Revere,

poetry by Craig Kirchner, and

poetry by Jeff Mann

 

Robert Revere

Owen’s Creek, Catoctin Mountain

 

Copyright © 2024 by Robert Revere.

 

 About the Artist

Robert Revere is a fine art photographer based in Washington, DC. His first book is a collaboration with poet Kim Roberts called Corona/Crown (WordTech Editions, 2023). He has exhibited regionally at Touchstone Gallery, the Art League Gallery, the Spectrum Gallery; nationally at Studio 4 West in New York and the Middle East Café and the Art Institute of Boston in Massachusetts. Revere has been an artist in residence at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and Ireland’s Burren College of Art. Revere studied at the Corcoran School of Art and the Art Institute of Boston, and taught photography at Maryland College of Art and Design. He is also a career foreign service officer with the U.S. Department of State. Visit:

 

 

Craig Cotter

 

Ferlan

 

I’d been chatting with a 25-year-old

6-4, 160-pound twink on Grindr

 

for several weeks,

expecting nothing to come of it.

 

But last Wednesday,

both of us a bit nervous,

 

we met at my place.

 

*

 

Fernado is physical perfection.

 

No point describing him

beyond the basic stats above

 

(from Mexico, speaks English, Spanish and Italian,

beautiful dark hair and eyes)

 

because just substitute your 10 here

to get the meaning.

                                         Utter

head-to-toe

perfection,

 

and he was kind, educated

and did not waste time

 

with banal social conventions.

 

*

 

We only met Wednesday and Thursday,

he was on his way to the east coast for the first time,

 

then back to Mexico to finish his Ph.D.

 

*

 

It’s not ideal to tell family and friends

your favorite Christmas present.

 

However, you can write it in poetry

because everything put in poetry

 

disappears.

 

“You can have these,”

he said on his way out for the last time,

 

and gave me his white ankle socks (size 15)

 

 

Copyright © 2024 by Craig Cotter.

 

 


Cool Breeze Through Car Windows

 

How about for when

 

some poets die

all their poems go poof?

 

It was the strength of their personalities

kept their poems alive.

 

I want to get to death

soon as possible

 

to see if my poems

hold up.

 

4

 

I was so sick

dust built up in my room.

 

Now I'm temporarily

well again,

 

and my room is clean.

 

Everything seemed to decay.

Most of my stuff

 

no one would want.

It would all go straight to a dump.

 

5

 

Certain pills

erased my mind.

 

Parrots fly over San Gabriel.

 

On the bad pills

first night

 

not a dream

woke-me-up

 

but a tree with yellow

football-sized flowers.

 

12

 

What was behind Rimbaud

in that photo from Africa?

 

Don't you know

 

we'll never know

 

and he wrote 207 more poems

in Africa.

 

13

 

Three minutes to go,

 

perfect dry

LA summer breeze

 

off the ocean.

 

Copyright © 2024 by Craig Cotter.

 

 

About the Author

Craig Cotter was born in 1960 in New York and has lived in Los Angeles since 1986. His poems have appeared in hundreds of journals in the U.S., France, Italy, Czech Republic, U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Canada, India and Ireland.  His fourth book of poems, After Lunch with Frank O’Hara, is currently available on Amazon. Visit:  www.craigcotter.com

 

 

 

Littleny

Stonewall NYC

 

© Littleny.

 

 

DC Diamondopolous

 

1969: The Stonewall Inn

 

In the industrial ruin near the New York docks, rats clawed through garbage left by vagrants. Inside the jammed truck that hauled meat during the day, Jackie, along with dozens of boys and young men indulged in an orgy. The stink of beef, sweat, and cum had nowhere to escape. The only sounds were moaning and grunts. In the dark, Jackie clutched the waist of someone in front of him.

 

Somebody pounded on the truck. “Lilly Law! Lilly Law!”

 

The back doors swung open.

 

Two cop cars screeched to a stop.

 

Jackie and the others jumped onto the landing platform. They charged in different directions.

 

On this sweltering summer night, Jackie darted through the freight yard. In his worn hightop sneakers, the soles smacked against gravel and pavement.

 

He bolted onto Greenwich Avenue under a big white moon. His tight, frayed, bellbottom jeans pulled against his crotch. The sweaty orange tie-dyed T-shirt stuck to his chest. His heart thumped. The pigs weren’t going to catch him, not this time. He ran as if his life mattered.

 

If only his eighteen-year-old legs could outrun life on the streets. In late-night movie houses, lonely old men found his blond hair, slight build, and effeminate nature irresistible. Jackie scored, sometimes going home with them for food and a shower. Chicken hawks cruising subway toilets paid to blow him. To survive, he’d do anything.

 

Jackie raced past Mama’s Chick and Rib Restaurant.

 

Turning onto Christopher Street, he glanced back—no cops.

 

He walked down the one-way street toward the Stonewall. It was there that he had made friends with other twilight boys and drag queens. And it was the only bar in the Village that allowed slow dancing between men. For the first time, someone put their arms around him—not for sex or to hurt him. When they danced to Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour,” they stepped on each other’s toes. It didn’t matter. They laughed. The tenderness blew his mind.

 

As he neared the Stonewall, there was a crowd and a paddy wagon. It was a raid, but on a Friday night? Just the past Tuesday the fuzz raided the place. Had the Mafia not paid off the pigs to keep the bar open?

 

Walking closer, Jackie heard grumbling and sensed the bad vibe.

 

Bar regulars watched cops haul out handcuffed customers, then throw them into the paddy wagon.

 

“What the fuck’s happening?” Jackie asked the guy beside him.

 

Just then a pig punched a tough-looking lesbian. She kicked him.

 

The angry crowd inched forward.

 

Jackie seethed.

 

“She didn’t do nothing,” a Puerto Rican kid shouted.

 

“We’ll shut you damn perverts down for good,” another cop bellowed. He clubbed the woman, then pushed her into the truck.

 

“Leave us alone,” Jackie yelled.

 

A brick shattered the windshield of a police car.

Whoops rang out.

 

Drag queens taunted Johnny Law with cries of “Betty Badge!” “Patti Pig!”

 

More gay men arrived from Christopher Park across the street, from Waverly Place, and 7th Avenue. They brought with them years of persecution and joined the rebellion.

 

A drag queen threw pennies at the pigs. “You’re nothing but copper.”

 

Jackie hurled coins. “Here’s your payoff.”

 

Shouts of “Let us be,” thundered through the pandemonium.

 

In front of the bar’s plywood window, a nightstick pressed into Jackie’s back. His wiry body whirled around. He punched the cop in the face. Jackie saw first shock, then fear in the man’s eyes. Fear. Jackie lived with it every day.

 

All six pigs looked astonished as the enraged nellie queens and limp-wristed fags hit, kneed, and threw bottles and tin cans at them.

 

Sweat flew off Jackie’s long curly hair as he jabbed, slugged, and kicked the cops with the viciousness of having nothing to lose.

 

A drag queen in a sequined dress jumped onto a cop car. She took off her stiletto heels and waved them high in the air with one hand while blowing kisses with the other. Everyone cheered.

 

The crowd mushroomed to hundreds.

 

Jackie pumped his fists and joined the chant of “NO MORE” until his voice rasped.

 

The terrified pigs turned tail and fled into the Stonewall.

 

“Let’s get ‘em!” Jackie yelled. He rammed his shoulder against the two wooden doors. They didn’t budge.

 

He joined three guys who rocked a cop car.

 

A young man in a Jewfro and handlebar mustache lit a mesh garbage can and threw the burning container at the bar’s doors.

 

Screams and shouts split the night.

 

Bricks crashed against the wall.

 

A sewer grate slammed into the plywood.

 

Firebombs smashed against the doors. The smell of lighter fluid saturated the air. A bottle crashed through a window above the Stonewall. Shards of glass rained on the sidewalk. Blood trickled from Jackie’s head. He wiped it away with his arm.

 

Cries of “gay power” turned the scorching night into a blazing furnace of pent-up rage.

 

Jackie and his friends, Mary Queen of the Scotch and Miss Congo Woman, pulled on a parking meter. Two burly guys pitched in and tore it from its base. The five of them hoisted it and used it as a battering-ram against the doors.

 

With each thrust, Jackie’s adrenaline surged—against the pigs who clubbed and raped him—boom—for his stepfather who threw him down the stairs for swishing like a queer—boom—for the bullies at school who cornered and beat him—boom—for every asshole who called him faggot—boom. He heaved the meter like a gladiator against a world that hated him—BOOM! The Stonewall, with its watered-down drinks, no running water, and clogged toilets, was a shithole. But it was Jackie’s home, his block, a place where he felt human. Safe.

 

A small gap appeared between the doors. He knew if they busted through, he’d kill a cop.

 

Sirens howled.

 

Gay men packed the sidewalks and streets.

 

Against the flow of traffic, five buses drove down Christopher. They parked between 7th Avenue and the Stonewall.

 

Cops in dark uniforms, black helmets, and big plastic shields filed out of the vehicles. They formed a V wedge, gripped their clubs, and advanced toward the crowd.

 

Jackie, along with scores of street kids, faced the oncoming tyrants.

 

The pigs inside the bar opened the doors and scampered to the paddy wagon.

 

“C’mon girls,” a drag queen yelled.

 

The drag queens locked arms, formed a kick-line, and sang:

 

We are the Village girls—kick

 

We wear our hair in curls—kick

 

We wear our dungarees—kick

 

Above our nellie knees—kick

 

The squad froze and glanced at one another. They edged forward, their batons raised.

 

Jackie was confronting an invincible force, but he and his gay brothers were winning just by standing up to them. It was a momentous feeling of liberation.

 

When they were less than ten feet away, Jackie and the throng turned and ran, racing around the short blocks that crisscrossed the Stonewall, Washington Place, Waverly, and 7th Avenue. They outsmarted and confused the cops by coming up behind, pushing them forward. From Howard Johnson’s to Mama’s Chick and Rib, it was Jackie’s and the street kids’ turf. The uptown pigs were clueless.

 

At first, Jackie thought it fun outwitting the cops, but after an hour of playing cat and mouse, his legs became heavy. He and the kids scattered. The pigs dispersed.

 

Jackie headed up Christopher, wanting to see what they’d done to the Stonewall.

 

As he walked, he noticed his bloodied knuckles, blood-caked arm, his torn T-shirt.

 

When he opened the door, the smell of liquor smacked him. Bottles and mirrors were smashed to pieces, along with cigarette machines and the jukebox. Tables and chairs lay shattered.

 

“Don’t worry,” the bartender said, brushing glass from the counter. “Mario will have the bar opened by tonight.”

 

“It was worth it,” Jackie said, feeling tired but exhilarated, and strode outside.

 

Too exhausted to walk further, he sat on a stoop with two other kids.

 

“Man, I can’t believe what happened,” said a boy on the top step.

 

“Now we’re really in for it,” added the other guy.

 

Over his shoulder Jackie said, “If I have to, I’ll come back and fight tonight.”

 

He turned to the war zone.

 

“Me too.”

 

“So will I.”

 

In the predawn, lampposts picked up glitter of broken glass strewn across sidewalks and streets. Like diamonds, they glistened. A light breeze ruffled torn pieces of cloth. Interwoven like a giant quilt lay crushed cans, a high heel, bricks, left overs in food cartons, a wig, orange peels, Styrofoam cups.

 

Jackie and his gay brothers had fought like men. The fear he saw in the cops’ eyes would live with him forever. For the first time, hope entered his life.

 

This was America. People had rights. He’d be willing to fight, even die for them.

 

Pride overwhelmed him as he scanned the hallowed battlefield. It was so beautiful, their reward.

 

The story was previously published in November 2023 by Creators of Justice.

Copyright © 2023 by DC Diamondopolous.

 

 

About the Author

DC Diamondopolous is an award-winning short story, and flash fiction writer with hundreds of stories published internationally in print and online magazines, literary journals, and anthologies. DC's stories have appeared in: Progenitor, 34th Parallel, So It Goes: The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library, Lunch Ticket, and others. DC has two published collections of short stories, Stepping Up and Captured Up Close (20th Century Short-Short Stories). She was nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize and twice for Best of the Net Anthology. She lives on the California coast with her wife and animals. Visit: dcdiamondopolous.com

 

 

Robert Revere

 

Mushrooms, Catoctin Mountain



 Copyright © 2024 by Robert Revere.

 

  

About the Artist

Robert Revere is a fine art photographer based in Washington, DC. His first book is a collaboration with poet Kim Roberts called Corona/Crown (WordTech Editions, 2023). He has exhibited regionally at Touchstone Gallery, the Art League Gallery, the Spectrum Gallery; nationally at Studio 4 West in New York and the Middle East Café and the Art Institute of Boston in Massachusetts. Revere has been an artist in residence at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and Ireland’s Burren College of Art. Revere studied at the Corcoran School of Art and the Art Institute of Boston, and taught photography at Maryland College of Art and Design. He is also a career foreign service officer with the U.S. Department of State. Visit:

 

 

Craig Kirchner

 

Salad Days

 

 

I’m reading the Bard,

Cleo is pondering her relationship with Caesar.

“My salad days when I was green in judgement.”

My salad days flash, initially -

Monday, tossed, Wednesday, Greek,

Friday, Caesar, probably with fish.

 

Immature and submissive perhaps,

but Cleopatra was a sexual predator capable

of seducing the most powerful man on the planet,

twice, graduating to manipulative with Anthony.

 

Jumping back to my youthful green days

of carefree innocence, inexperience,

incompetence and missed opportunity.

A redo would see no competition,

no one had a clue.

 

Providing pleasurable experience

with no demand or reward,

would have given the whole world,

the neighborhood, Egypt, the Roman Empire,

high school in particular, a new dynamic -

would now make reading the Bard,

reminiscing instead of contemplating. 

 

 

Copyright © 2024 by Craig Kirchner.

 

About the Author

Craig Kirchner thinks of poetry as hobo art, loves storytelling and the aesthetics of the paper and pen. He has had two poems nominated for the Pushcart, and has a book of poetry, Roomful of Navels. After a writing hiatus he was recently published in Decadent Review, Wild Violet, Last Leaves, Literary Heist, Cape Magazine, Young Ravens, Chiron Review, Valiant Scribe, The Main Street Rag and several dozen other journals.

 

 

 

Jeff Mann

 

Frey

 

 

This classroom’s scenery’s

that familiar and frustrate mix

 

of desire made abrasive,

made caustic by

 

futility, the forge-hot

sword of lust

 

thrust steaming into

Fact’s cold bucket,

 

quenched by chill

and the complete

 

impossibility of consent,

meaning I cannot stroke

 

that close brown beard,

tobacco-scented,

 

those broad shoulders,

that shaggy hair, those lean

 

hips. Lord Frey, why torture

our eves with hopeless

 

throbbings of noontide,

why make fools of

 

sexagenarians still

hungry, desperate

 

as ever to touch

and taste the beautiful?

 

It’s one of many cosmic

cruelties, how fate makes

 

ageless appetite after

appetite inconvenient,

 

our final flesh-

feasts pure fantasy.

 

 

Copyright © 2024 by Jeff Mann.

 

 

 

Prometheus

 

 

What are you thinking?

All for the sake of worshippers?

 

Keening, whining, snarling, selfish,

destructive, greedy worshippers?

 

Don’t mix the clay with

Zeus’ spittle, I beg you, don’t

 

animate such beings with Athena’s

breath. Would you condemn

 

the rest of creation,

Earth and Heaven,

 

the great auk,

the passenger pigeon,

 

the Florida panther,

the Mexican gray wolf,

 

the sandhill crane and the manatee?

Would you torch the forests,

 

smog the sun, bleach the reefs,

parch the hills, flood the beach?

 

Great Ones, the Moirai

are poised—Clotho,

 

Lachesis, and Atropos—

to spin, to measure, to shear.

 

Molding anthropos,

you damn all

 

other life, cut short

the thread, doom

 

our only planet.

 

 

Copyright © 2024 by Jeff Mann.

 

 

Cypress Vine

Ipomoea quamoclit

 

 Past a certain age, one begins to wonder

if old lovers are still alive, yet here you are,

 

compliments of Google stalking, a webpage

advertising Vedic astrological readings, complete

 

with a phone number I wouldn’t use even if

I were near the wasting end of a fatal disease.

 

Would that you had read my chart on the day

we met, given me some prophecy, some warning.

 

Was I trying to make my own myth,

passionately pursuing the Lord of the Forest,

 

a muscular satyr, a piping Pan, a hairy muse?

I found you so beautiful, my own Enkidu,

 

but, after thirty-one years, you’re beautiful no

longer, as the webpage photo attests. I was never

 

beautiful to begin with, so why you took risks,

met me for assignations behind your spouse’s back,

 

I will never know. My perversity, perhaps,

deftness with ropes and gags, or the length

 

of my cock, or the desperate solar adoration

I exuded and you, Loki-gleeful, absorbed. Vaguely,

 

I remember the autumnal pain of that parting,

the way the sobs of mourning doves evoked

 

a beloved nakedness I would never touch again.

Unrequited love in vain, restricted love, remembrance

 

of love past, legendary lovers separated by a raging

river—so the cypress vine signifies, twining up the shutters,

 

leaves like tiny rib cages blood-eagle-splayed,

and the flowers, miniscule scarlet pentagrams like

 

the Wiccan star pendant between your hairy pecs.

Today, twenty-five years married, I run my fingers

 

through vine-fronds soft as fur, watch mourning

doves pick fallen seeds from the grass below the feeder.

 

Demon once revered, now consigned to history,

you plowed soil another man would plant. I suppose

 

I wish you well. May we in this lifetime never meet again.

 

 

Copyright © 2024 by Jeff Mann.

 

 About the Author

Jeff Mann has published three poetry chapbooks, six full-length books of poetry, three collections of personal essays, a volume of memoir and poetry, three novellas, six novels, and four collections of short fiction. With Julia Watts, he coedited LGBTQ Fiction and Poetry from Appalachia. The winner of two Lambda Literary Awards, he teaches creative writing at Virginia Tech.

 

 

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