We ain’t going back!

I wondered how today’s young generation of LGBTQ artists were dealing with the rise of Trump.

I found defiance:

Now if you think that we gon bow down and run
Think we’d be bothered? You got water in your guns?
Bitch, you got the wrong bitch
Bitch, you got the wrong bitch
You got the wrong, wrong bitch
And if you think we gon cower and be scared
Think I won’t keep marching with my fist up in the air
Bitch, you got the wrong bitch
Bitch, you got the wrong bitch
You got the wrong, wrong bitch

This cut from Butch Queen by Rue Paul and Ab Soto is defiant and hilarious:


We’re not going back. We’re not going anywhere. We are going to rise up and finish our revolution.

And we’re gonna win!



You Must Have Been a Sensational Baby, I Said

More cuts from the 1986 reading with Harold Norse at
San Francisco’s Jewish Community Center.

In this post Norse reads, ‘You Must Have Been a Sensational Baby’ .

I owe these performance tapes to my best friend, Kit.

Kit showed up and recorded all of my performances, even when he
was sick.

 I’ll Be Seeing You – In Memory of Kit –

The sketch of Norse is a scan of the inside cover of my copy of his
collected poems, Carnivorous Saint.

I describe  the night I bought Carnivorous Saint in a post I wrote
about Norse for Pride Week 2016.

Heroes of the Revolution: Harold Norse

Portrait of Rob Goldstein based on a photo by Nina Glaser.
Portrait of Rob Goldstein based on a photo by Nina Glaser. I wore black for most of the 1980’s as an expression of mourning.

You Must have Been a Sensational Baby








Heroes of the Revolution: Kenneth Pitchford

“A good life requires the ability to rise above the circumstances of everyday practical considerations. The ability to be something within the self, separate and apart from success or failure in any particular human undertaking. The ability to add psychological resources as the result of life experiences makes it possible to convert success or failure into a psychic event. The sense of self reaches its highest level of expression where practical and adaptive matters are least involved. The psychological capacities of the self, which reach deepest into the sense of inner identity, concern matters such as the ability to comprehend the truth and adhere to the good.” Paul Rosenfels


I first read the poem, Color Photos of the Atrocities, by Kenneth Pitchford when I was 20.

Pitchford was the gay identified husband of feminist, Robin Morgan.

He was also a founding member of the effeminists.

I was impressed by Pitchford’s political courage and clarity of vision in this poem.

Color Photos of the Atrocities

Tomorrow I’m going to read poems
to a college class called
Introduction to Literary Analyses.
How can something be introduced
that doesn’t exist? We have brains
for thinking hard about our lives
and words for telling about them
and we don’t use either well.

Me? I’m alone with my four-month baby.
I’m thinking about him – and what I’ll say
tomorrow to the class—
and about the color photos of the atrocities,
with babies his age arranged in heaps,
the glaring red brought to us
courtesy of Ansco, a corporation that got rich,
courtesy the Kennedys, by buying cheap
the German firm
coalesced from the slave labor of concentration camps,
all that dead sweat crystallized like honey into profits

A folksinger on the phonograph
is promising that
“we’ll all go together / to pick wild mountain thyme
all around the purple heather”
and my usual afternoon of mothering my child
seems to turn over upside down
while I rock and croon and refuse to cry
and he looks up in puzzlement, wanting
to smile. robbed of speech just long enough
so that he will always feel separate,
helpless to explain what he needs,
each of us convinced that no one could understand
each disbelieving that sharing anything is possible.

And then I do start crying, wondering where
my people are, knowing that I will never
find them, will never go, as I’ve often dreamed,
up into burnished hills with
not many possessions on our backs,
all of them shared, our children shared,
women restored to power, men free again to be human,
moving sideways out of history
out of this time, sideways to songs
around campfires and spoken poems
that go unwritten-down handed on
word of mouth, if ever.

At least I can see how useless academies are,
how phony their claim to preserve and instill
values: the attendant at Auschwitz chatting
with a knowledgeable young victim about Goethe
and escorting him back to the end of the execution line
again and again so he could
improve his own chances on a literature exam upcoming
(though of course he finally had to let the victim pass).
At least I know how useless everything we do becomes
when faced with color photos of the atrocities.

One baby in the heap squirmed to find the wet breast
of its dead mother, habit having had just time enough
to teach: Breast equals Safety.
–though how explain this red milk? Next
the child, too, was shot.
then finished off with the stab of a bayonet,
carved into three neat pieces
before being thrown away. Not any words,
not any any words I can teach you
my precious baby, can say back the cries
strangled in your stabbed throat,
no introduction to any analyses
equal to explaining what has happened to a country
that pays $40,000 for color photos
of the atrocities but will not buy
enough milk to keep its own babies from starving.

Stop it. All of it. Stop taking courses
like this one. Wipe them out of the catalogue.
replace them with Introduction to
Malnutrition; Intermediate Butchery; Advanced Ecological
Start bringing this thing that is killing us
down, this ersatz republic, this murderous empire.
Blake, my baby,
there is no country for us to escape to,
no purple heather, and I don’t even know how
to build it here in our lives and words
as my tears take colorless pictures of your smile.

Kenneth Pitchford 1972



17 St. Phillips Street , Part One

17 St. Phillips Street

17 St. Phillips Street

“Well good morning to you, too!” says Miss Jenny as she cracks an egg on the edge of an iron skillet and opens it over a bowl.

She is a retired beautician and the owner of a boarding house for men on St. Philip’s Street.

“Good morning, Miss Jenny.” Bobby combs his fingers through his thick black hair and pours a cup of coffee from the percolator.

“You boys was sure havin’ a wild time last night” Miss Jenny pours eggs into simmering grease.  “That doorbell rang till two this morning!”

“I’m sorry, Miss Jenny,” Bobby lowers his eyes, “but them was Paul’s friends.”

“Well, you tell Paul I sleep at night!”

“Yes Ma’am.” Bobby straddles the step chair by the sink. “Um…Miss Jenny? Can I pay rent next Friday?”

“But you ain’t paid last Friday!” She flips the eggs before scooping them onto a plate.

“Good morning, Miss Jenny!” Paul glides into the kitchen toward the coffee pot.

“Did someone take my name in vain?”

“That boys layin’ off rent again, Paul!”

“I am not!” says Bobby.  “Didn’t you say you’d pay my rent last week, Paul?”

“Yes Bobby.” Paul blows the rising steam from his coffee in Bobby’s direction.

“But you said that you were going to look for a job.”

“I am Paul.” Bobby drops his head.

Miss Jenny tosses bacon into the skillet. “That boy ain’t been outta this house all week ‘cept to drag home strangers!” Miss Jenny smiles sweetly at Paul.  “Want some breakfast, darlin?”

Paul smiles sweetly at Bobby. “Why thank you, Miss Jenny!”

Bobby sips his coffee. “I went to that stupid clothing store on Meeting Street and they won’t hire me ‘cause they say my hair’s too long!”

“Paul spreads his hands in a gesture of wisdom and benevolence. “Then cut your hair!”

Bobby angrily crosses his arms over his chest. “Well you’re on unemployment!

Miss Jenny slaps two plates of bacon and eggs on the table. “Paul always pays his rent, don’tja darlin.”

“I ain’t never had a job,” Bobby sighs, “So I don’t qualify.”

“Work for three months and you’ll qualify.” Paul pricks the yolk of an egg with his fork. “That bacon is mighty crisp this mornin’ Miss Jenny!”

Bobby hungrily watches them eat. “To be truthful, they said they was ready to hire me but I said I had to think on it.”

Miss Jenny gnaws on a strip of bacon. “Tell ‘em you thought on it an’ you accept! You outta start chargin’ them men you drag home!”

Maurice materializes in the chair next to Paul.

“Good morning Miss Jenny, Miss Bobby!—Pauline!

Paul glances at Maurice, “Your make-up is tragic this morning, Maurice.”

“Honey you ain’t seen tragic till you look in a mirror an’ Miss Bobby you look like one of them dawgs I hear about in my psychology class!”

Bobby blushes. “I do not! I was just thinkin’ about goin’ to work is all.”

“Oh honey!” Maurice laughs, “Don’t even!” He shoots a glance at Paul. “Mens buy you everything when you’re pretty!”

Miss Jennie narrows her eyes: “I don’t see no mens buyin’ you things, Maurice! You sayin’ you ugly? Bobby! You go down to that clothing store right after breakfast and take that job! You hear?”

“Yes ma’am.” Bobby stares hungrily into his lap.

Miss Jenny grins and jabs her fork at the stove. “Now grab yourself a plate from the shelf and have some breakfast!”

Honkey Cat
Elton John, Greatest Hits 1970-2002
Community Audio

17 St. Phillip Street, Part One and Portrait of Bobby’s avatar (c) Robert Goldstein 2016 All Rights Reserved

17 St. Phillip Street, Part One