Curt Stubbs has been reading his poetry at the Open Mic series of El Ojito Springs for over a year. He has not always been willing to share his work. This shy man says he always liked poetry. But until his mid-thirties he says he wouldn’t even allow himself to read poetry because “it was too faggy, too queer.” Somehow he thought people would find out that he was gay. Around then he married a woman so that no one would suspect his sexual preference. Before he came out he had one sexual experience with men: he was raped by two of them. Through his poetry Curt has been able to chronicle his gay experience. His work has been published in the TUCSON WEEKLY, THE PHOENIX COLLEGE OWL, and THE RATTLESNAKE REVIEW.
Curt Stubbs generally writes his poems while watching television. He blocks it out and writes. According to him, a phase or word gets stuck in his head and he thinks it is neat and belongs in a poem. He says it then runs around his head for a while until he has the first three or four lines. His poems grow from there and “come out fairly fast.” Most of the time his poems are written in one installment. Curt has a BA in creative writing from the University of Arizona. He can be reached by writing him at 3880 N. Park Ave. #A Tucson, Arizona 85719. He has no computer, typewriter, car, or working stereo. Even his television is 19 inches.
Here are three examples of poems by Curt Stubbs. The first one he is really fond of. It is based on personal experience.
FOR A FRIEND JUST COMING OUT
The rope sings through the pitons.
The wind shrieks curses in our ears,
and we climb
seek to reach that 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
that you can’t make it,
as though 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 this one together
that no mountain need be feared, no peak left unassailed.
The next poem won Curt an Honorable Mention at the Tucson Poetry Festival and was publish in THE TUCSON WEEKLY.
Its never been acknowledged
but Adam and I
were lovers. You pooh-pooh me,
but I was there. Sometimes
when Eve slept, he would come
to me and we’d make love under
the paw-paw tree. Above us the monkeys
would jibber their foreign language
and throw paw-paw fruit at us.
Oh, she knew what we were doing,
her husband and I, but as long
as she didn’t see us she could
accept it. Life was sweet then,
in the Garden, two of everything (except me)
and still there was enough to eat.
He and I talked about it, we thought
it would never end.
When my friend the serpent,
dapper in his tails and white tie,
had his way with Eve and then Adam
Big G. said it was my fault.
He taught the newlyweds shame
and made love between them more fragile.
G made the serpent a bottom,
crawling on his belly. Me He made
an outcast cut off from my lover,
from my best friend and my neighbor.
I still see Adam sometimes,
at the mall, on the street, but G.
has shrouded his eyes so he
doesn’t know me or remember how much
he once loved me. Eve never knew
me so she just thinks I don’t exist.
My old friend the serpent has changed
his diet from apples to rodents
and now all his thoughts are of dull,
small, furry creatures. We have nothing
left to talk about. G.’s the only
one left from the first days. We talk
a lot about the good old days
and the restoration of the Garden
when the others are ready.
The last poem is Curt’s favorite. It was part of the Writer Series on KXCI radio Tucson, Arizona.
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 sentenced to confinement in a single cell,
And to have my eyes blindered, my hands shackled,
and my mind laundered. Judge Poker thanked the jury.
My mother shed tears and begged him for mercy, but
what does she know about poetry anyway?
Yes, Curt, you’re right. Poetry is not written but lived. Good night, Randy Ford