Queer Femmes Respond – With a Golden Shovel, Part 2!

Last week, I told you about the book of poetry by Nikki Grimes called One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance, where she uses a poetic form called the Golden Shovel to respond to poems by Harlem Renaissance poets. I knew immediately that I wanted to try this form, and that I wanted to respond to a queer poet. I chose the transcendent poem, “Homo Will Not Inherit” by Mark Doty, and here is my attempt.

Deep gratitude to Nikki Grimes and Mark Doty, whose inspiration and love-filled work help me to carry on!

No Homos

Driving together to the Sunday Peace and Serenity AFG meeting, the last one before lockdown, and you know I’ve

Been saying the Serenity Prayer over and over since the weeks of chemo. “Have you seen

your mom lately?” my butch has just asked when, as though sending its message wreathed in righteous flames,


A car in the next lane pulls ahead of us, we two dykes in our suburu, and out of the morning flicker

urgent words on a hand-lettered sign in the back window: NO HOMOS! We are stuck in our lane, can’t get around

this reality, this gut punch, right here in the Republic of Cambridge where the


raw face of hate stuns us and remind us: at any moment, we can fall off the edge

right into the enormity of some deeply held belief, one that comforts and speaks of

redemption for the believer, promises, what? That when my butch and I have been negated, the


complex threads of our queer lives unraveled, gone the abomination of our queer bodies;

after that contamination has been blasted to the hell where they know it belongs, down will rain pentecostal

delirium and at last, rewarded, the driver of our neighboring car and all her fellows will be hosannaed, lifted up; evidence


irrefutable and holy of all that is right and true? What does she know or our inhabitation

in sacred circles of recovery or how our queer ancestors gather round us with their blessings and

their witness of our radiance and our glory? How can she know I


learned to pray well after my 50th year, that I sit in the presence of what is, that I have

turned inwards to learn to love my queer femme self that I may be of service in the world? Where has she been

during all this healing time but sequestered from her own dear soul, possessed


by voices who mean her no good? There is no way there will ever be no. homos, and the

wounding we feel, as we drive on, carry on, does not deny us the presence of god

but rather brings us deeper, closer, brings me into the sadness, the adoration, the song of myself.

using a stanza in Mark Doty’s “Homo Will Not Inherit” (I missed one word, “of”!)

I’ ve seen flame flicker around the edges of the body,
pentecostal, evidence of inhabitation.
And I have been possessed of the god myself,

Every Friday, I showcase a queer femme goddess. I want to feature you! Write to me at thetotalfemme@gmail.com and let me shine a spotlight on your beautiful, unique, femme story! If you’ve written a femme story or poem or song, oh, please let me post it!

 New Femme Friday feature starting spring 2020: Queer Femmes Respond. Are you reading more poetry? Are you navigating various technologies in order to see your folx and not be so isolated? Are you still going out to work? Are you able to get out for walks? Who’s home with you? We queer femmes are meeting these unsettling times with queer femme panache, and I want to hear about it! Along the lines of the Corona Letters over at the Sewanee Review, please send in what you’re doing, how you’re staying centered and sane! Write me at thetotalfemme@gmail.com with questions or ideas or a full-on post (with bio, if possible)!

 At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”) As I undergo treatment for breast cancer, however, I’m just going to post whenever I can manage.






Published in: on April 17, 2020 at 11:51 AM  Leave a Comment  
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