Tuesday, January 31, 2023
by Ruby Archer
Hark to the gondolier singing,
Dreamily, dreamily singing,
Ever guiding our languid gondola
Out on the fair lagoon.
Lo, how the pigeons are winging,
Airily, airily winging,
Blending coos in our idle revery
Out on the fair lagoon.
Now is the gondolier calling,
Warningly, warningly calling;
Hark—the answer—from turning shadowy,
Where the dark waters wind.
Now we emerge in a glory,
Radiant, radiant glory;
Campanile and dome rise magical
Out of the Grand Canal.
Every wall has a story,
Passionate, passionate story,—
O'er the song of the gondolier hovering,
Out on the Grand Canal.
Gardens above us are leaning,
Drowsily, drowsily leaning;
Never water and sky so heavenly,
Sung by a gondolier.
Ever and aye in our dreaming,
Far-away, far-away dreaming,
We'll remember this golden Italy,
Sung by a gondolier.
About 15 years ago, I was doing research in Italy for my dissertation. I was able to spend a month traveling Italy (Rome, Florence, and Venice), and it was a trip I will never forget for many reasons. It was the first time I had ever traveled on my own. I remember the beauty and food of Rome and the amazing Vatican City with St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums. I wondered through the Cimitero Acattolico (Non-Catholic Cemetery) of Rome, often referred to as the Cimitero dei protestanti (Protestant Cemetery) looking at the famous graves of Americans who had traveled to Italy in the nineteenth century.
In Florence, I remember the festive atmosphere of the Piazza della Repubblica, the gold merchants on the Ponte Vecchio, the splendor of the Duomo, and the wonders of the storied museums such as the Uffizi Gallery with Sandro Botticelli’s Primavera and The Birth of Venus and the Accademia with Michelangelo's David. I walked the streets where American artists had walked more than a century before. I visited the English Cemetery and made friends with the strange but infinitely interesting custodian of the cemetery, the medieval scholar Julia Bolton Holloway, formerly a nun of the Anglican order Community of the Holy Family and scholar of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who is buried in the cemetery.
Then I went to Venice, which was cold and damp, and I caught a terrible cold. The city, however, is magical. The canals and the grand palazzos that line it are breathtaking. The gaudy but fascinating Basilica di San Marco and the pink and seemingly austere Doge’s Palace with the Scala d'Oro, the Golden Staircase, and the Ponte dei Sospiri, the Bridge of Sighs. I remember taking a vaporetto to the Lido with a group of nuns sitting in front of me laughing and seeming to have the greatest time as they were sprayed by the waters of the Lagoon while we bounced over the waves.
These were all great memories, but what will always warm my heart is the thought of seeing the gondolieri in their blue or red striped tops, red neckerchiefs, wide-brimmed straw hats, and dark pants. In movies you often see an older man guiding the gondolas down the canal as lovers cuddle in the traditional, flat-bottomed rowing boat holding their rowing oar to guide the gondola down the canals. I did not see many old men as gondolieri, but mostly beautiful young men like those in the picture above or the one below who I became enamored with and had to take his picture.
About the Poet
Ruby Archer (Ruby Archer Doud or Ruby Archer Gray) was born in Kansas City, Missouri on January 28, 1873, and died in Los Angeles on January 23, 1961. She was an American poet, educated at Kansas City High School and by private tutors. She was married to Dr. Frank Newland Doud on March 27, 1910, and later to Benjamin Franklin Gray. She contributed poems, translations from French and German dramas and lyrics, and prose articles on art, architecture, music, Biblical literature, philosophy, etc. to papers and magazines.
Monday, January 30, 2023
Sunday, January 29, 2023
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Are self-love and Christianity compatible? Some people may lead you to believe that they are not, but Jesus speaks to this question when He spells out the importance of love in Matthew 22:37-40. He gives us the greatest commandment – to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. The second one, He states, is to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Before all else, we must love God first- with every part of our being. It is our rock solid foundation for all that follows, including knowing how to love ourselves and show His love to others. God didn’t create man because of boredom, loneliness, or need. He created us in His image to enjoy a loving relationship with Him. If God’s image is one of unfathomable worth, then being made in His image helps us understand our own worth and purpose.
The Bible warns us in 2 Timothy 3:1-4 that in “the last days perilous times will come” and people will be “lovers of themselves… rather than lovers of God.” So, there is a distinction in self-love that we need to understand. The 2 Timothy verses speaks of a sinful self-love. Paul describes the love in this verse as the Greek word philautos, a selfish and arrogant self-love; intent only on one’s self-interests. People will completely take their eyes off God and their lives will revolve only around themselves and their interests. We see this a lot with right-wing politicians these days. In contrast, the love Jesus speaks of in Matthew was agape love, i.e., Christian love or brotherly love. It is an unselfish love, and the love we should show for God, self, and others.
Christian self-love is based on the love God has for us- selfless and unconditional. While many of us know our identity in Christ and believe He loves us unconditionally, we can still struggle with a right self-love attitude. As gay Christians, this is one of our greatest struggles. We are often taught that our sexuality is an abomination, and we have to get past that by understanding those clobber passages that people throw at us. Once we understand that we were created in God’s own image, we can accept our sexuality as part of us, and then we can begin to love ourselves. We often look in the mirror and concentrate on the things we don’t like about ourselves. It may be our physical self, or things we regret saying or doing in the past. It may be our sexuality or gender. We dislike some of our character traits and feel insecure and guilt. We beat ourselves up over our shortcomings. What we need to realize is that if we are created in God’s image, and we love and obey God, then the way He made us is not a shortcoming.
Enemies of God love to get inside our head and tell us our looks/personality/failures/sexuality, etc., means we’re not worthy of love. How wrong they are! They are the inner bully that eggs us on to self-loathing instead of self-love. They will try anything to separate us from God’s love. However, we are all beautiful inside and out. Our failures make us stronger if we learn from them, and our sexuality is part of who we are. Too many people want to see others hurt so they can feel better and more superior about their own lives. Instead of following God’s word, they want to hit us over the head with their distorted beliefs and hatred.
We need to remember that our self-love is based on the deep agape love of God and that Jesus’ selfless sacrifice saved us. Therefore, He never wants us to see ourselves as worthless! Listening and believing what He says about us helps us have the correct attitude of self-love. We know as Christians that we are not perfect but that God’s love can make us whole. Christian self-love admits our guilt and flaws, confessing and surrendering ourselves to Jesus. His grace never puts us down or shames us. He doesn’t want us to pick ourselves apart or become consumed with insecurities. Likewise, He doesn’t want us on the other end of the spectrum with an inflated, prideful ego. Pride is in us by nature. We have to work against it and not allow it consume us. You can be proud of who you are, that’s why we celebrate pride every June, but there is a different in having pride in who we are and being so prideful that it hurts others. Acknowledging His boundless love and what He has done for us should fill us with a humble spirit. Through Him, we see ourselves as his loving creation. Self-love comes through seeing ourselves as He sees us. That gives us the correct balance of humility and confidence to love ourselves correctly.
Our self-love will naturally waver from time to time. We can overcome, however, and free ourselves from negative thoughts. It takes persistence (it’s a lifelong process), knowing what He says about us in His Word, and a resolve to keep our eyes on Jesus.
We need to learn, value, and accept our identity in Christ. We need to stop comparing ourselves to others. We have to recognize we are not perfect. No one is perfect! We need to forgive and show compassion to ourselves. Self-love is about self-acceptance. We have to accept who we are before we can love who we are.
In the words of RuPaul Charles, “If you can't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”
Can I get an amen up in here?
Saturday, January 28, 2023
Friday, January 27, 2023
Wednesday, January 25, 2023
Tuesday, January 24, 2023
Puck’s Final Speech
By William Shakespeare
From A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Act V, Scene 1
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.
The mischievous Puck ends A Midsummer Night’s Dream with these lines. It is one of my favorite passages from Shakespeare.
Monday, January 23, 2023
Sunday, January 22, 2023
And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
The Unclouded Day
By Josiah Kelley Alwood
O they tell me of a home far beyond the skies,
O they tell me of a home far away;
O they tell me of a home where no storm clouds rise,
O they tell me of an unclouded day.
O the land of cloudless day,
O the land of an unclouded day,
O they tell me of a home where no storm clouds rise,
O they tell me of an unclouded day.
O they tell me of a home where my friends have gone,
O they tell me of that land far away,
Where the tree of life in eternal bloom
Sheds its fragrance through the unclouded day.
O they tell me of a King in His beauty there,
And they tell me that mine eyes shall behold
Where He sits on the throne that is whiter than snow,
In the city that is made of gold.
O they tell me that He smiles on His children there,
And His smile drives their sorrows all away;
And they tell me that no tears ever come again
In that lovely land of unclouded day.
“The Unclouded Day” was written by Josiah Kelley Alwood. (Harrison County, Ohio, July 15, 1828--January 13, 1909, Morenci, Michigan). Ordained by the United Brethren in Christ, he spent many years as a circuit rider, traveling on horseback to his many appointments. He would be gone from his family for weeks at a time while he held revival meetings and lectured on Christian doctrine. Later, he became a presiding elder in the North Ohio Conference and was a delegate to several general conferences of his church. Always a staunch supporter of the original constitution of his denomination, he was a delegate to the general conference at the time of the separation of the church into two groups at York, Pennsylvania, in 1889.
Alwood related a story about the event that inspired the song:
It was a balmy night in August 1879, when returning from a debate in Spring Hill, Ohio, to my home in Morenci, Michigan, about 1:00 a.m. I saw a beautiful rainbow north by northwest against a dense black nimbus cloud. The sky was all perfectly clear except this dark cloud which covered about forty degrees of the horizon and extended about halfway to the zenith. The phenomenon was entirely new to me and my nerves refreshed by the balmy air and the lovely sight. Old Morpheus was playing his sweetest lullaby. Another mile of travel, a few moments of time, a fellow of my size was ensconced in sweet home and wrapped in sweet sleep. A first class know-nothing till rosy-sweet morning was wide over the fields.
To awake and look abroad and remember the night was to be filled with sweet melody. A while at the organ brought forth a piece of music now known as "The Unclouded Day." A Day and a half was bestowed on the four stanzas.
—A Rainbow at Midnight and A Song With Morning (1896)
Saturday, January 21, 2023
Friday, January 20, 2023
Thursday, January 19, 2023
Tuesday, January 17, 2023
by Patrick Cash
Let's talk about gay sex baby
Let's crow about its beauty daily
Place away your shades of shame
And trace in me a sacred flame
Lend me your lips, boy
And of your muscled hips
I will speak and enjoy
Give me the words
Of your body's supple burn
And into silver zodiacs
I will write the codes
My desire in you has cracked
Of naked bodies and buttocks
And cocks and jockstraps
My tongue between your shoulderblades
Tattoos them with my name
That I will dare to speak
And dare to speak again
Down into the dip of your back
My mouth will murmur rapt
Then I let my whispers lick
First one gluteus muscle
Before on to its perfect brother
Hear my hands
On your flesh slap
And the parting of your pretty ass
To reveal your winking, pink anus
In the hush of my first kiss
The sensation's racing
Spiralling up your spinal cord
Exploding into your loosened brain
Uttered as a gasp and a word
That was there from the beginning:
And I say, “yes...”
I'm not talking about gay sex
To shock or cause stress
I'm talking about it
Because no one else is
Our gay comedians
Are asexual chameleons
No sex, please
We're gay and on TV
And I've heard my straight mates say:
“I don't mind it happening
As long as I don't hear about it”
Well here, now, it's happening
And it's hard and it's fast and it's racing
A gasp and a whimper
The sound of flesh whacking flesh
Of my penis inside him
It's sweat dripping from one man to another
A soaring, writhing ecstasy of kissing
It's in your face
It's in your head
It's in the space
Where angels fear to tread
Because my sex is part of my identity
My sex makes me and shapes me
And I’m not going to stop it and lock it
And shut it up
Not for you and not for me
My sex is laced with shame
My sex is the wrong sex
My sex was illegal
My sex instils fear
It's parks after dark
And it's public toilets
And it's AIDS
Like David Stuart said:
“When your parents think of sex
They see your sister married
You and your boyfriend
It's shit on dicks”
My sex is a sin without name
And try telling this
To the two 20-year-old boys
I interviewed last week
Who both have HIV
Because they're not told
About gay sex in schools
And they're not told
And the condom, they are told,
Is there to stop pregnancy
But lastly my sex is my gift
To be shared safely
With rising sensation
Of move and thrust and kiss
My sex lives in excited eyes
It whispers between fingertips
My sex is in his smile
It's in his pleasure
And what we share together
My sex speaks now and always will
Of the word we all call love
Patrick Cash is a queer journalist and creative writer based in London, prominently known for hosting two LGBTQ-friendly open mic nights: the poetry and performance night, “Spoken Word London," the gay men’s well-being forum, “Let’s Talk About Gay Sex & Drugs,” and the theatrical showcase event Dark Fabrics Cabaret. He writes on various subjects, including much arts/culture, and works as Assistant Editor for QX Magazine. Find him on Twitter @paddycash.
Cash’s main focus when writing poetry is emotional truth. He believes we are sometimes smothered by falsity in the modern world, from social media performance to creepy algorithm-led advertising, and good art cuts through that superficiality. If you achieve authenticity of feeling in your poem, then that truth will resonate deeply with your audiences, whatever your surface differences of sexuality, gender, or race.
Cash believes it is important for queer poets to be heard to engender understanding of the queer experience. He said that if you’ve grown up straight, male and privileged, then queerness may seem like a very alien—even threatening—concept to you. Yet all humans understand what it is to feel different, and innate concepts like shame and hope. Queer poets not only empower queer people, but use their words as conduits for empathy.
When asked about the future of queer poetry, Cash said, “Greater visibility, more mixed queer/straight readerships and more mainstream literary recognition. In some ways, I feel the age we’re living in of LGBTQ rights and queer literature is partially comparable to the Harlem Renaissance bringing black literature to mainstream America in the '20s. Queer poetry deepens our understanding of multifaceted humanity.
Monday, January 16, 2023
Sunday, January 15, 2023
If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.
—1 John 4:20-21
In 1 John 4:16, love is the divine attribute upon which John trains our attention: " And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him." By studying John, we come to know and understand the deep love which the Lord has for us and how important is it that we in turn, mirror His love in our lives. Love is one of God's perfect and eternal attributes, and John explains that the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in Him. However, John also warns: "If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also."
Christ is our example and pattern for life, and the outpouring of love on others is the outward demonstration of our soul. Not only does love cover a multitude of sins, but man's God-given conscience also exposes the darkened heart of those who live falsely. The more we emulate the Christ and follow His example of love, the more the love of God is perfected in each of our lives. By guiding our lives with Christ’s example, we are making the world a better place.
The more the love of God is allowed to become who we are heart and soul, the greater will be our confidence in the day of trouble, and any fear of judgement or punishment will be eliminated. 1 John 4:18 tells us: "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love."
And so as John explains, if someone says they love God but hate their brother, he is a liar and a deceiver. The person who says they love God with their lips but demonstrates hatred towards another in their attitude or heart, is not being truthful. John stresses in 1 John 4:20 that if we falsely profess to love God when there is hatred in our heart for our fellow man. If we follow in the footsteps of Christ, the greater will be his love towards our fellow humans, even those who are our enemies.
John argues that the closer we are in spirit to Christ the more we reflect the love of God in our words and actions, our attitude and behavior, our motive and mind, for how can someone say, "I love God," and hate his brother. He can't. He has identified himself as a liar: "For he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?"
Let us love in spirit and in truth, in word and in deed, in motive and in mind.