Steven Sanchez – Meet Me at the Gay Denny’s Part 2

Steven Sanchez

Meet Me at the Gay Denny’s Part 2

J. Jack Halberstam, a brilliant Queer social critic, explains the idea of Queer Time—Halberstam argues that straight people operate on a linear timeline: they’re born, hit puberty, date and explore their sexuality through adolescence, find a partner, get married, have kids, grow old, retire, and die. 

Queers, however, don’t really follow that. For one, most Queer kids had to give up exploring their sexuality during adolescence or risk being ridiculed, beaten, or murdered (just yesterday, my partner’s friend was gay bashed and had to get stitches). If we’re lucky, we end up exploring those aspects of ourselves in our 20s and 30s, causing what he calls “a second, Queer puberty.” Then, we spend those years catching up on everything our straight counterparts got to explore in depth for at least a decade already. As far as the kids go, it’s usually pretty difficult for Queer couples to procreate on accident. And marriage wasn’t even really a factor our community even had the privilege of considering until just a few years ago. 

To top this off, straight people have different bars for young folks, middle-aged folks, and older folks. 

Queers, if we are lucky, get 1 or 2 bars for us. And, regardless of our age, we all gather there. In Queer bars, Halberstam explains, is where our Queer elders are able to connect with the newest generation of Queers and everyone in between. We play Lady Gaga alongside Cher alongside Judy Garland. Our fashion and style and dance intersect constantly. So much of Queer culture is exchanged and nurtured through our Queer bars because they are often the only place we feel safe enough to do that. 

Whereas straight people tend to silo their circles off based on generation, Queer folks don’t follow those same conventions. Because of that, Halberstam says that Queer time is a circle—the eldest generations continuously meeting the younger generation, each generation continuously informing the other. 

Of course, last call always brings this to a close, and that’s where gay Denny’s comes in. For folks in Fresno, you know the one: the corner of Blackstone and Shields.

Michelle Brittan Rosado – Condition of Rental Property Checklist

Michelle Brittan Rosado

Condition of Rental Property Checklist

The metal-framed windows keep sliding 
down in the heat, so we prop them up

with painters’ sticks left behind
by the workers after the last tenants

moved away. It’s our first apartment and we’re going 
to make this work, holding up every window 

for any breeze, though mostly catching 
the elderly neighbor’s midnight cigars 

on the stoop below, the divorcée’s video game 
soundtrack chiming down the courtyard. Hot air 

and car exhaust swirl between us. Still, we buy flowers 
though they wilt in a day, bananas darken 

overnight, a string of ants threads the hole 
in the window screen finding shade and sweet.

Author’s note: The poems in this series all use the image of a window as their starting point, some in the title itself and others more peripherally. I’ve been thinking of this symbol a lot lately — as a portal for wonder in childhood, an aperture to others’ lives during the pandemic, a view of the world outside after giving birth and spending those early days indoors. These poems may not have come into existence without the invitation to contribute to The Fresno 15, and I am endlessly grateful to the MFA program for my years there and the deep sense of community I’ve carried with me since graduating in 2011. Thank you for reading and for supporting the Larry Levis Memorial Scholarship. 

Steven Sanchez – Meet Me at the Gay Denny’s Part 1

Steven Sanchez

Meet Me at the Gay Denny’s Part 1

So, I’ve always thought Denny’s was a little gay. To prove this, I googled “Denny’s is queer” and, ignoring the first result talking about how a server refused to wait on a party of Queers in New Mexico, I found a listicle titled “10 Best Queer or LGBTQ-Welcoming Restaurants in Phoenix” and learned that Phoenix, Arizona has its very own gay Denny’s at the corner of 7th St and Camelbade Road. In the comments section, everyone started sharing about their own gay Denny’s in cities all over the country.

Imagine that: right now, there is a national network of gay 24 hr diners for Queers to gather and eat and share a basket of mozzarella sticks in a drunk stupor while nursing a round of waters. To top it all off, the artist Joan of Arkansas has a song titled “Meet Me at the Gay Denny’s” where the chorus goes

Meet me
at the Gay Denny’s
where there’s safety in numbers.
Where there’s safety in numbers.

Where there’s safety in numbers. This line repeats itself 12 times in the course of 3 minutes. 

After hearing this, it clicked. Queer bars are often the only places where Queer communities can gather safely, relax, and celebrate ourselves in all of our Queerness and faggotry. And once the bar closes, where else is left to go but a diner that’s conveniently around the corner and open 24 hours? 

Michelle Brittan Rosado – Poem in the Form of a Seating Chart for an Airbus A380

Michelle Brittan Rosado

Editor’s note: This poem is best viewed on the full width of a desktop or laptop screen.

Poem in the Form of a Seating Chart for an Airbus A380

When the takeoff      is over and the city of San Francisco      doesn’t slide off 
the tilting side of      the earth and all becomes still water     for hours 
and hours I am      back next to the aisle in wonder      at elbows 
and the sound      of our metal buckles opening      and clasping shut 
again and the beep      before the captain speaking      nothing 
I understand      and the curves of ice in the concentrated      orange 
juice flattening      against my tongue and the tailored      batik uniforms
of the flight      attendants and the intimations      of whispered 
dialects and      the deep white noise of the engines      spinning 
a cocoon      around us and the funnel of air conditioning      from above 
my head      like an extraction from the clouds and the part      of me leaving 
or arriving     all my life never quite there always      anticipating waiting 
the concept      of family on the other side      of the earth 
with my ears full      of cotton and no one can quite hear      anyone but we are 
together and loneliness      feels like a chamber we can break      open into new air

Author’s note: The poems in this series all use the image of a window as their starting point, some in the title itself and others more peripherally. I’ve been thinking of this symbol a lot lately — as a portal for wonder in childhood, an aperture to others’ lives during the pandemic, a view of the world outside after giving birth and spending those early days indoors. These poems may not have come into existence without the invitation to contribute to The Fresno 15, and I am endlessly grateful to the MFA program for my years there and the deep sense of community I’ve carried with me since graduating in 2011. Thank you for reading and for supporting the Larry Levis Memorial Scholarship. 

Steven Sanchez – After

Steven Sanchez

Editor’s note: This poem is best viewed on the full width of a desktop or laptop screen.

After

I ride my bicycle

                                              and

then a paramedic asks me my name.

                                              Steven.

She asks me the year.
                                              2016.
                                                            It isn’t. I blame
                                                            the presidential election,

                                                            as if my mind wants to erase
                                                                         the white house,

                                                            this crash,
                                                                                         everything

                                                            that’s happened
                                                                                                      this past year— 

                                                                                           you who left me
                                                           after eight years, 

                                                                            after I cheated
                                                           with a man who would kiss me

                                                                                        in public.

The emergency room doctor says
I may have a brain bleed,
              a concussion,
                               a broken nose
                                              or jaw.

                                                           They dab 

                                                                                                      my brow

                                                                              with gauze

                                                           to stop

                                                                                                      the salt

                                                                              that stings

                                                           my eyes

They ask me how I fell.

                                          I only remember how you woke up
                                          from each seizure and would ask

                                                                                                      What time is it?

Psychosomatic

                                          the doctors later told you,
                                          caused by stress after

                                                           eight years of
                                                                                                      sleeping in
                                                           a bed
                                                                                                      with our two dogs
                                                           between us 
                                                                                                      where our hands
                                                           unfolded,
                                                                                                      had once touched.
                                                           I found
                                                                                                      te amo
                                                           mi amor,
                                                                                                      —that engraved
                                                           tungsten
                                                                                                      halo seemed like it fit
                                                           around my finger. 
                                                                                                      You pawned it
                                                           eventually,
                                                                                                      after
                                                           I found
                                                                                                      you collapsed,
                                                           Tux and
                                                                                                      Teddy licking
                                                           your mouth,
                                                                                                      your lips pursed and
                                                           rigid.
                                                                                                      Without thinking
                                                           I shouted
                                                                                                      Babe
                                                           and turned you,
                                                                                                      I laid by your side
                                                           and held you,
                                                                                                      as if I was
                                                           still your partner,
                                                                                                      cooing 
                                                           wake up,
                                                                                                      wake up, Babe,
                                                           you have to
                                                                                                      leave for work.
                                                           Eventually, you did.

I was pedaling my bicycle

                                          and

you texted me
I don’t feel so well

                                          and

                                                           I sped to your apartment,
                                                           each curb corner
                                                                                           a nightstand,
                                                           each traffic light
                                                                                           a door knob,
                                                           each speed bump
                                                                                           a person not waking,

                                                                          knowing

                                                           If I got home in time,
                                                                          I couldn’t hold you
                                                                                      too tightly—

                                                                                                    I might harm you more.

I ride my bicycle
                                          and
                                                           lose

myself. Consciousness,
                                                           I hope,
               slips
                                          before death
                              like our last kiss
when your lips
                                          bloomed
               into another man.