Curt Stubbs Gay Poet – de Joel and other poems

de joel

by Curt Stubbs

In the April darkness a child squalls,

Abandoned by his mother, put up for adoption,

unwanted for 11 months.  I never knew he was there.

I never comforted his fears. I never held him against the darkness,

but he grew through all the traumas of childhood,

perhaps magnified by his cleft palette,

and I still didn’t know he was there.

I never taught him to throw a perfect spiral pass,

I never taught him to throw a wicked curve ball,

I never taught him to ride a two wheel bike.

I was never there for his teen aged angst.

I was too involved in the pursuit of the perfect high, the mainline drunk.

even so he grew to manhood, pursued and won a wife, fathered little Erynn.

She never cried in the night, I bet,  lonely and not knowing who her father was.

I never even knew I had fathered a son.

By my seventieth year I had calmed down,  I had grown responsible,

learned to take care of myself.

But by then he didn’t need my care, my hard earned lessons.

He had all the things I never had, a career, a family,

a certainty about his place in the world.

Then he matched dna with me, found me

and I was startled out of my complacency.

and I finally knew where he was.

Curt Stubbs



by Curt Stubbs

1.    Before Stonewall

A theater showing grunting Gay porn.

Blue light voyeurs sitting alone in the dark.

An approach … tentative… nodding assent.

Mutual furtive hand jobs under humping coats.

An escaping sigh, a stabbing light.

Chuckle.  “What you boys doing here in the dark?

Zip it up.  We’re going downtown.”

A meek trip in a paddy wagon.

Coats hiding heads / faces / self-respect.


Closets are built of billi clubs and baseball bats

wielded by cops or fag bashers,

The certainty of fear,

the uncertainty of brutality,

keep people from going out,

holding hands, showing intimacy.

“You a faggot?” shove, “I asked

you a faggot?”  You deny it,

but they shove again.

“You scared of me faggot?”

Again you deny your internal identity.

They hit you anyway,

blow after blow.

Broken bones, cracked skull,

internal damage, all depending

on how many attack you.

At first you don’t go out

because of the bruises.

Then because of fear,

your loss of self-respect.


A mafia owned bar.  Watered down

twice-priced drinks add insult.

A bouncer at the door to signal

an approaching raid.  Men and women

dancing with men and women to switch

when the bouncer hits the light switch,

boys and girls to switch to opposite sexes,

“Ok girls, you better have two pieces

of men’s apparel under those frocks.

Show time now girls.  Show and tell.”

A meek trip in a paddy wagon,

coats hiding heads / faces / self-respect.


Newspapers list those arrested, addresses, jobs.

Loss of homes / jobs / self-respect.

Lives of quiet desperation.


2.  The Stonewall Uprising

Street queens, hustlers, homeless youth, those

with nothing left to lose.

A mafia run bar that had not paid off the police,

a raid expecting quiet acquiescence

as in the past.  “OK all you dykes and faggots.

We’re going on a little trip.

Everybody in the paddy wagons.”

Maybe Judy Garland’s funeral has long fanned the flames.

Maybe an arrestee’s plunge from an upper story

police station window and impalement

on the iron fence below.

Maybe they were just sick and tired

of being sick and tired.  A whole lot of maybes

fought back, fought, the cops, threw copper pennies

at the coppers, locked them

inside the bar, uprooted a parking meter

to batter down the solid wooden door.

Inside the scared police lodged

a cigarette machine against the door

to keep the angry, growing mob out,

open unashamed faces / self-respect.

Six nights of taunting “Lilly Law.”

Always circling around the block

top confront the police phalanxes.

Kick lines taunting, throwing bottles,

bricks and witty insults.

60’s protests came to the Gay community.

Kick line sings: “We are the Stonewall girls.

We wear our hair in curls.

We don’t wear underwear,

We show our pubic hair.”

and other such slacious songs.

More performance art than riot


3.   After Stonewall

Riot leads to the Gay Liberation Front.

Leads to one year later – a commemorative march.

Will a hundred show their faces?

Saw thousand! marching proud and free.

G. L. F. all over the country – the world.

Fight the laws, the American Psychiatric Association,

change the definition of mental illness.

Everybody’s doing it, doing it, doing it

in the bars, parks and bath houes.

No limp-wristed faggots here.

Moustaches, leather men, gym toned bodies.

Then Redrum = AIDS spelled backwards.

Fear, decimation, abandonment by those in power.

Fighting Falwell’s lies for self-respect,

Fight back – ACT UP – silence = death.

Chalk outlined die-in at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Come out, come out whoever you are,

you sick bastards.

Lesbians tending the living,

dying Gay men.

450,000 March on Washington.

Thousands of grave-sized quilts

to mark those who’ve gone before .

Silence = death.

5000 couples speak their commitments

a forecast of things to come.

Soldiers don’t ask,

and sailors don’t tell

abolished – stories of abuse.

Lawrence Vs. Texas goes all the way

to the Supreme Court

making consensual sex legal at last.

Everybody’s doing it, doing it, doing it,

leaving closets burning in their wake.

Courts everywhere striking down anti-marriage laws.

President Obama mentions Stonewall

with other freedom sites.

Who’s next?  Who’s next?



by Curt Stubbs

I can dance.
I can twirl.
I can jump.
I can race across the ground.

I can go slow.
I can go fast.
I can zig-zag.
I can drive a 2×4 through a brick wall.

But best of all I can destroy.

I can blow up a house.
I can toss tractor trailers like dice.
I can scatter tree limbs all over the town.

I can blow off a roof.
I can shatter windows.
I can leave the family car up in a tree.
I can leave a whole town homeless.

But best of all, I can leave a mile wide path
of destruction wherever I go.



by Curt Stubbs

We are queers and lesbians,
bulldykes and flaming faggot firebearers,
Fairy kings and fairy queens,
cross dressers and bridges to the spirit world.
To the Ogalala Sioux we were winkte,
boy and girl twins born in the same body,
and we were sacred.
To the Lakota
we were adi-wa-lona
and we were sacred.
To the Pomo tribe
we were das,
to the Mojave
we were alyha and hwami,
to the Navajo
we were nadle
and we were always sacred.
The Zuni called us Ko’thlama
the Chippewa, a-go-kwa,
the Kokiak,ke’yev.
To all tribal people
we were accepted as spirit bridges.
In Tahiti we were called mahu
and cock sucking was our sacred duty
especially before a battle.
The Chinese spinsters who cross dressed
wore their hair short
and acted masculine were forced to work
in factories spinning and weaving silk,
a most holy task in old China.
They were considered to be lesbians
by the village people.
Faggots were mythologized as those
who brought fire to man.
Could Prometheus have been the first faggot?
In secular western culture
we are the writers, directors, producers and actors
who bring magic to stage, screen and television.
We are the hairdressers
who make women beautiful for men.
This stage magic and cross-
beautification of the sexes are
the modern equivalent
of crossing the spirit bridges.
We queers and dykes
are poets, novelists, musicians, artist and priests.
We bridge the spirit world of the arts.
Not all queers and dykes
bridge the spirit world
just as not all basketball players
play in the NBA.
There are different levels of existence after all,
but queers and dykes
have always filled a large niche
and we are sacred.

Curt Stubbs



by Curt Stubbs

There are no truths
Inside the gates of Eden.
Bob Dylan

He was just a soldier
who loved baseball
and whose eyes teared up
at the national anthem.
He also cried at sentimental movies
and giggled at the sight
of puppies and kittens.
In eighth grade he fell
in love with Tom Bailey
a neighbor who was in
his P.E. class at school.
Shower time was a time
of pleasure/pain as he tried
to keep his thirteen year old body
from responding to the sight
of warm water sluicing
over Tom’s naked body.
I will never forget his naked, broken body
lying in the latrine showers,
his face no longer recognizable,
the back of his skull
stove in by a baseball bat.
He followed Tom like a puppy,
wherever Tom led he was sure to follow.
They went to the movies together
but he couldn’t concentrate
on the movie with buddy
beside him in the dark.
They sat together on the school bus
and together hassled
Archie the bus driver,
calling out whenever Archie
missed a gear, throwing spit wads
and being altogether thirteen year old boys.
He joined the army to serve
his country. He thought the repeal
of “don’t ask, don’t tell” would protect him.
And besides Tom had enlisted
at the same time and they thought
they could serve together.
The army had different plans
and sent one east and one west.
In high school he made sure
that he was in Tom’s P.E. class
so he could continue to see that
which was forbidden to him.
He wasn’t sure whether the feelings
he had for the girls Tom
went out with were jealousy or envy,
he just knew he was uncomfortable
when Tom bragged of his exploits.
He told one of the others in the barracks
that he was gay and HE told another, and HE another
and soon the whole barracks knew.
One Friday night he and Tom
cruised Main Street with Tom in the truck
with his arm hanging out
and catsup dripping down.
Officer O’Rielly was not amused.
They each got a $300 ticket
for disturbing the peace.
Jason Swanson justified killing him
with the standard “gay panic” defense,
claiming that he had made a pass
at him in the shower
but he had had his back to Jason
and never knew what hit him.
He was just an eighteen year old soldier
who loved baseball and his country.

Curt Stubbs



by Curt Stubbs

There ain’t much I don’t know about this land,

The smell of it, the taste of it in the summer

when the sweet birthing rains bring bounty

and the lightning bugs glow just past my son’s fingers.

She groans in the deep dark mornings

when the cattle calve and my old cock rooster

rehearses his songs behind the big barn.

She’s a woman still fertile trusting a man who

who can’t get her with child.

She’s a child alone when the powers gone out

and the summer storms but doesn’t bring rain.

There’s something sad of a morning when the bean fields

gulp dew as the hot sun smirks and the still air stifles;

you can almost hear the land dying under my plow,

her death rattle dry, her last thought on another year’s bounty.

This land kept my daddy alive and his daddy as well

And if the dry heaves don’t kill her,

she’ll keep me and my son and his down the line.

If I thought she’d accept them I’d shed tears like autumn leaves,

and if I thought my prayers would save this farm

I’d wear holes in the knees of my trousers

and burn candles twenty four hours around the clock.

It’s a day sad to dying when dreams dry up;

and dance swirling away in afternoon dust devils,

the roots that held a man to his land

clipped at ground level and the clear sky above

singing the hollow shell meaningless blues.

Curt Stubbs



by Curt Stubbs

The pulpit grows organically
before the fruited, flowered alter
as I stand with my boyfriend’s heart
in my hand and the King James Bible
swearing full commitment to a man
somewhere near here and now
I pledge my troth in complete and full
ring upon his finger touching the sky
wherein dwells our God feeling
our love and caressing my soon
to be married ass clad in tuxedo
pants complete with bright red
comberbun and he’s dressed so handsome
his tux matching mine in
and color me blind

by love possessed and let no man
put us asunder in a fine church like this
where the pulpit grows organically
out of my league and into the stratosphere
where boys toy rockets red glare
lights up the heir apparent
watching over a child’s crib
and adoption right

to be free according to our natures
before God and Country-
man loving man like
Romeo and Juliet without
the tragic ending in false conclusions
like those four eyed moths who confuse
predators into thinking
they are right about our nuptials
and our lives in the balance
of natural occurrences

Curt Stubbs



by Curt Stubbs

God is dead
He died intestate
leaving no will, living
or otherwise.
His only son died
two thousand years ago
so his estate went to the state,
including his great powers.

God is dead
and Pat Robertson and the Pope
are fighting over the corpse
each swearing to God and country
that they knew Him best.
The corpse has begun to rot
and is drawing flies and other claimants
to his legacy.

God is dead
and with him died civility
and tolerance (sometimes called love);
and with him died
hope and optimism to be replaced
by greed and despair.

Curt Stubbs




by Curt Stubbs

When I retire I’m going to build
my dream house out of music.
It has never betrayed me
and always offered succor
in times of need.
You can’t have a better
musical base than the Beatles
so they shall be my foundation.
My home shall stand firm and proud.
The floors will be laid
of the finest John Prine,
a little raspy, a little line,
but always with a broad understanding.
Jimi Hendrix will provide enough
electricity to power my house forever.
The plumbing will be Captain Beefheart.
I will build the walls
Out of prime-time enduring rock.
Rolling Stone walls will stand forever
The corners shall be reinforced
by Buffy Saint Marie,
always sharp, strong and uncompromising.
The Windows shall be Phillip Glass.
That seems fitting somehow.
I shall frame all the windows
with Kris Kristofferson
except the large picture window
which will be framed in Willie Nelson.
God, what a view.
The open beamed celling
will be Led Zeppelin.
Their music will not be brought down.
I will roof the whole structure
with classic Bob Dylan.
Nothing bad can happen to a home so roofed.
The kitchen will, of course, be Joni Mitchell,
sweet and light and always enriching.
To keep the house mellow and calm
the bedrooms will be built out of old folk groups-
Peter, Paul and Mary, the Kingston Trio
and Simon and Garfunkle.
For the bathroom I will use
the original potty mouth, Frank Zappa.
The doors both interior
And exterior will be made of the Doors themselves.
The yard will be planted with bluegrass
And the borders will be U2.
I expect to live a long and happy life
in my musical domain.



by Curt Stubbs

(from the A NEW APOCRYPHA series)

That was no lady, the lady
in red and Getsemene a theater
not a garden when he waliked through the lobby
looking hot in his motorcycle jacket
and his 501’s stone washed
cause Laundromats weren’t yet invented.
And J.D and J.C were neither one thugs
but the best hopes for a people
occupied by Rome and foreclosed on
by imperial bankers. And Judas was
not a drag queen but a G-man dressed
in a red satin gown when he kissed
Dillinger’s lips and the centurions
dragged him from the theater.
A naked you man with a hard on
ran from the bathroom and out
through the lobby thinking the Romans
had come to arrest him.
And J.D. was not queer but
he had a thing for bearded men
in evening gowns. On the screen
a rooster crowed and the audience laughed
three times thinking the amusement over.

Curt Stubbs



by Curt Stubbs

It is an endless ridge that stretches
vainly past the horizon
in pursuit of the fleeing sun.

He is a square jawed, fair haired boy,
his mother’s dream of everything
any mother’s son should be.

I am cast in the image of
a shattered toy once capable of joy,
now suited best for the refuse pile.

We love in a way conceived
in night’s dark shadow, nurtured
by complete and total lack of light.

We sit atop the night sheltered ridge,
the hard cold stone beneath us
a metaphor for the heart that casts me out.

He says he wants a wife and children,
not to have to explain or justify
the love he has for me.

I throw a flower of the edge
and watch it drift to earth
a thing of beauty even in its dying.

Curt Stubbs



by Curt Stubbs

I was arrested in the neon high sun

by a rookie policeman who said he didn’t

know poetry.  He and his old lady read

best sellers, he said, when they read at all.

He told me if I didn’t quit screaming verses

at him things would go hard on me and then he

banged my head on the door jamb of his squad car.

I stood there stupid with a mouth full of words

and no one I could say them to.

I was arraigned in a room where the walls were stained gray

by the lives of the ones who’d been arraigned there before me.

The back of the bench in front of me had teeth marks,

a full set, where someone else had bit back their words

when they found out the judge didn’t know poetry either.

The judge said his name was Stud Poker and he didn’t

tolerate laughter when justice was being dealt out.

I was found guilty by a jury who also didn’t

know poetry but still thought they were my peers.

The foreman was a trim black woman who wore

haute couture fashion but still thought poetry

wasn’t being written these days.  She said the last

of the poets died before this country was born.

She didn’t know that poetry is not written but lived.

I was sentanced to confinement in a single cell,

and to have my eyes blinded, my hands shackled,

and my mind laundered.  Judge Poker thanked the jury

and said I had been dealt a fair justice for my crimes.

My mother shed tears and begged him for mercy, but

what does she know about poetry anyway?

Curt Stubs



Going down where the whiskey sounds

like water running through my fingers.

All dressed up in gin and flannel,

my jeans as faded as my soul.

I’m on a hell bound train,

ain’t got no ticket,

no baggage that I care to carry.

Can’t get there fast enough,

one sip and all aboard.

In the morning my freshly plowed mouth,

like a dry, dusty field produces no sound

except a deathly squawk.

My stomach rumbles its discontent,

my hammered head hears

each sound as an assault.

I order a bloody mary to start another day.

Curt Stubbs



Giddy with the wine of youth,

we hurtled down the road

singing out our verse,

out of tune, off key

and assuredly off color.

Do you know my oft thought of friend,

how many times I went to sleep

with hand milked dreams of you

sprayed across my chest?

Do you still recount,

as do I,

every word of all our talks,

every thought you mentioned,

every secret that you shared?

It’s been years since I last saw you,

waist length hair,

Flannel shirt,

and faded skin tight jeans,

as I dropped you on the freeway

where you started on your journey,

and I ended mine

but I still remember skinny dipping parties

that we hosted

crazy, drunk and rowdy

so that I many once again

dream of your youth

and regret the wasted years of mine.

Curt Stubbs



The rope sings through the pitons.

The wind shrieks curses in our ears,

and we climb,

seek to reach the peak

that looms in the leading edge of vision.

Our toes grasp desperately at the slightest ledge,

Our fingers grip knuckle deep in every cranny,

and the rope

stretched taut from man to man

bonds just as tightly as the smiles that light our faces.

Our muscles shake with strain, exhaustion,

nervous sweat stains our clothing

and you say

you can’t make it

as if expecting us to cut the rope and let you fall.

Having reached this peak we see others looming taller,

making this mountain less than we had thought,

but we know

having climbed this one together

that no mountain need be feared, no peak left unassailed.

Curt Stubbs



I live in the desert.

Large trees that loom

over the road, hiding

the sky and casting

elongated shadows

across the ground

make me paranold.

I never know what or who’s

going to jump out

of the darkness to atack me.

Give me good old Palo Verde,

Mesquite and palm trees.

There is something to be said

for open greenery.

I live in the desert.

Rivers with water

running in them are a nice idea,

but I don’t think it will ever catch on.

Everyone knows water

belongs in swimming pools.

Curt Stubbs



Don’t blame the salad

if the fork is bent.

Perhaps it was meant to be bent.

Perhaps it is the nature of forks to be bent.

Not all salads are dysfunctional.

Don’t blame the pie if the counter is dirty.

It takes a miscommunication between

hand and eye to spill the pie.

You should never blame the kitchen

if the food is not to your liking.

If the kitchen is clean,

and the appliances all work

then the only one left to blame is the cook.

Curt Stubbs



I like to listen to the corn

growing, the golden tones

of the green leaves ringing

gently in the summer breeze;

the black and yellow plaid

of the cobs with their promise

of summer under butter;

the tap, tap dancing of the silk tassles

at the ends of the cobs.

Corn always grows

with such abandon.

Far beneath my feet I smell

the underground river waiting

for me to tap into it,

to brings its life affirming soul

up where it will seep back down

after enriching my corn

and nurturing the soil.

Water always teaches plants

how to grow.

Around my ears birdsong flits

aware only of the next note,

filling the air with seduction

and melting virtues.

The birds release their birdson

far and wide like milkweed seeds

floating gently to their destinations.

Birdsongs always wear robes

of impertinence like butterflies

wear images of color.

Weed-flowers grow

among the cornstalks

presenting themselves as the lawful

residents of the field

but depending on the protection

of the hardier corn.

Weed-flowers always claim where

they grow as their own garden.

Corpulent warted toads lumber

through the stalks

belching seductive songs

for their lady loves, an earth tone choir

singing songs of green-brown love.

Toads always bring earthtones

to the bubble eyed corn fields.

I am hiding in the corn field

smiling at things I can’t

understand, feeling things I can’t see,

and seeing things that don’t exist.

It is the nature of fields, all fields everywhere

to confound man’s senses

and bring him to his humbled knees.

Curt Stubbs



The morning sun stutters

through the blinds,

the cat sleeps behind my knees

forcing me into a fetal position.

The dog snores gently

beside my bed and

it seems that today

is a good day for living.

Even the morning paper

with its stories of war and pestilence

doesn’t bring me down.

I hang around the house too long

and the afternoon sun shouts

hello at me as I start my daily walk.

The birds mark my passing with a cacophony

of chirps and twitters.

It sounds like the roadside trees

harbor each a different species.

As I walk the pigeons try to out run me

rather than take flight.

The gravel crunches beneath

my outsize feet,

orange blossoms blanket the

area with their heavy scent.

The twilight shadows chase my dog

across the yard as she

runs and rolls and leaps

at the bats who are chasing

down their breakfast.

As the sun goes down

I can feel the temperature do the same.

The shadows extend into night

and again I feel that this is one of the good ones.

Curt Stubbs



He was man who didn’t know beauty.

He saw the world through the soles of his feet.

He was not deaf but he couldn’t hear.

He was not blind but he just would not see.

When he spoke his voice had no modulation,

it sounded like a butcher knife on bone.

He thought all art had to match your sofa,

and music was what you heard in an elevator.

He read Reader’s Digest Condensed Books

and thought that made him literate,

and knew for sure that all poetry rhymed.

When he died his wake had no flowers

and no on delivered his eulogy.

He was buried in a potter’s field

and a directory marked his grave.

Curt Stubbs



The morning sun stutters

through the blinds,

the cat sleeps behind my knees

forcing me into a fetal position.

The dog snores gently

beside my bed and it seems that today

is a day good for living.

Even the morning paper

with its stories of war and pestilence

doesn’t bring me down.

I hang around the house too long

and the afternoon sun shouts

hello at me as I start my daily walk.

The birds mark my passing with a cacophony

chirps and twitters.

It sounds like the roadside trees

harbor each a different species.

As I walk the pigeons try to out run me

rather than take flight.

The gravel crunches beneath

my outsize feet,

orange blossoms blanket the

area with their heavy scent.

The twilight shadows chase my dog

across the yard as she

runs and rolls and leaps

at the bats who are chasing

down their breakfast.

As the sun goes down

I can feel the temperature do the same.

The shadows extend into night

And again I feel that this is one of the good ones.

Curt Stubbs


For Dyanne

Respect the silence;

let it roll down your face

in great tears of joy.

Let it fill your heart

like it fills an empty room.

Don’t let it spread tales of dead dogs

or force opinions to cross your lips.

Respect the silence;

it has great things to say.

It will thunder in your mind

like a spring storm

and bend great trees to your will.

You will know tantric joy

and find brilliant gems

to wear on chains around your neck.

Respect the silence;

it is all you will ever have

and all you will ever need…

Respect the silence

and it will respect you.

Curt Stubbs


A Greater Stage

Let’s call her night,

this actress on a greater stage,

smoothly strutting her stuff

in her gowns of blue and purple.

She has always wanted to play Juliet

but being timeless in her beauty

she is unable to play the doomed teenage.

She has powers other actresses lack:

under a new moon she can portray

the darkest possible heart;

a full moon shows her shadows

and traces of grey.

Nightmares do more for her

than show our darkest places,

she also illuminates our secret hopes.

When she takes the stage

in her countless jewels

we dream of other worlds

And travel between the stars.

Curt Stubbs

3880 N. Park  Apt.  A

Tucson, Az 85719

Tucson, Arizona

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