Issue > Poetry
Michael Montlack

Michael Montlack

Michael Montlack is the author of Cool Limbo (NYQ Books) and the editor of the Lambda Finalist essay anthology My Diva: 65 Gay Men on the Women Who Inspire Them (University of Wisconsin). Most recently his work has appeared in Cimarron Review, Barrow Street, Gay and Lesbian Review, Huffington Post and the anthology New America. In 2013 his poem won the Gival Press Oscar Wllde Award and he received a writer's residency in Bavaria, Germany. He lives in New York City.

New Orleans: The UpStairs Lounge Arson Attack (1973)

A city with a history of going up in flames:
Two great fires almost bringing the Quarter to an end.
But many forget a more recent one steeped in more shame.

The UpStairs Lounge never had its fifteen minutes of fame—
just a cozy place where gay men didn't need to pretend.
But even in a city used to its outrageous flames

thirty two would die, three of them buried without their names.
Pastor Mitch, who went back in—found charred, clutching his boyfriend—
reminds us of those pioneers who loved despite the shame.

The detectives never bothered much with assigning blame,
never called it arson, just "undetermined origin."
This city known for its ceremony, more so than flame,

held no memorials. Families left bodies unclaimed
while Reverend Larson, fused to the window's bars, would spend
the night there dead—how did firefighters not feel ashamed?

That first gay church was just celebrating its self the same
as anyone has (and still does) when striving to ascend
from a dark hard history that should be thrown to the flames.
If only they would light our way, disintegrate the shame.

Poetry

Randi Ward

Randi Ward
Cattails

Poetry

Jeff Burt

Jeff Burt
Boathouse

Poetry

Kristene Brown

Kristene Brown
Mugshot of Grandma