Ode to Rebellions for Queer Liberation

Written by Carla Schick

Praise to the streets that bear footprints
indelible storm on Christopher Street
To the person in a tie, gender undescribed
who threw the first punch
To the Molotov cocktails and the tough
& tender brown & black trans women who tossed
their high heels to claw against the cops
reaching down their throats, voices strangled
Sing of the bodies freed from secret
dancings & fierce bouncers
eying street youth
Sing to the warriors, our ancestors, who roamed
alleys & markets every day to end
their own hungers
To the trans folks who fought fears
To the fight.

Praise the neglected East Village, the crumbling
edges of stone buildings turned into homes, broken
bottles of cheap wine
Praise a turning away from what is cheap
booze & syringes, a fist 
that punches rather than pounds its own
body into a carcass
Praise the end of our dying.

Sing of the fires, a rattling
of prison bars, the paddy wagons bursting
into scenes,  windows broken
for air that flows
into once dark & stifling
dance floors
Praise to feet that float in twirl,
a round about turn, to bodies
that touch
Sing of touch.

Sing of the children who didn’t hear
the sirens that hot June night,

Call out to the breeze in the stifling air, bringing
sweat-drenched sleep,  call
out to rumors
of love different
from the boys singing on a stoop
in Queens, wooing their girlfriends
on the edge of their harmonies,

Praise the child who leaves
these splintering corners, to an unbroken
body, to the sloughing off
of skin that feels too tight

Praise to a bicycle reimagined
as a motorcycle, a wall re-purposed
as a pitcher’s cage, a world disallowed
by the fact of girlness

Praise to teens who set 
buildings on fire, who looked
into the eyes of cops,
who pushed against billy clubs
battering their bodies
Praise to the overturned cop cars, immobilized

Praise to our bodies, the wild
and the serene, the girl, the boy
and the circuitous paths of the in-between.

About the Poet

Carla Schick is a queer transformative justice activist who taught in public schools for 30 years.  They moved to San Francisco in the late 1970’s and lived in the Mission where they enjoyed taking classes at SFCC.  and connecting with the writing community through Small Press Traffic bookstore and women’s writing groups.  They currently live in Oakland.

In addition to writing they are involved in the struggle for Palestinian self-determination and union work, including providing workshops on intersectional LGBTQ+ topics for the California Teacher’s Association.

Their work can be found in Forum, Milvia Street, Earth’s Daughters, Sinister Wisdom and online at A Gathering of the Tribes The Write Launch.   Their work was included in the Medusa Project Anthology 100 Lives (Pure Slush).  

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