Stonewall - gaycitynews.com | gaycitynews.com

Stonewall

BY MAUREEN N. McLANE |  

Let this medallion stand

for nothing planned

No one manned

a station at the bar

There was no plot

no forethought to resist

but a spontaneous paroxysm

a cataclysm of visibility

the street vibrating

with the punch

of NOW

and NO MORE—

Behold the kickline

of frenzied fabulousness—

Rage can look

this good honey—

The cops can’t hold the line

One day they’ll admit you’re fine . . .

Oh there was room at this Inn

for the ones who wanted to come in

and soon come out

The men are so beautiful

Ginsberg said that week

The men and the women

were thrumming

The kids with nowhere

else to go were there . . .

You can build a wall

You can fit a stone

to another stone

and make a wall

and call it normal

You can ask for hush money

You can reckon

with the patdowns and shakedowns

endure the summons and the shame

until you can’t and nobody knows

when you can’t and a wall cracks

& a strange light breaks

a bleak night open and then behold

the night after summer night simmering

with crowds glimmering

with the sheen of a new horizon—

Sometimes the arc of history

bends toward justice

with a kiss and an upraised fist

a braceleted or tattoed wrist

a ring of men and women

who suddenly and to their own surprise

won’t desist.

Let us remember this

and those who are not here

to remember and cheer

what’s been done here.

Before silence equaled death,

silence often equaled death

and so did talk or a look

or a drink or a touch.  But here

at this Inn—long ago stables

in Whitman’s New York—

“City of orgies, walks and joys”—

oh he would have loved

to lock eyes with the handsome boys

“your frequent and swift flash

of eyes offering me love”

he would have laughed

at the tomfoolery and jokes

and laughs now to see how

time has run its weird bright course—

The party never ended

it just changed its historical tune

a key shift announced

so stunningly that June

1969 no justice no peace

no shame no crime

but a rioting swell

announcing a new time:

how a raid

became a seed

for queer flowering

a red rose

on a stone wall

Maureen N. McLane, who is associate professor of English and director of Undergraduate Honors for English at NYU, wrote this poem on the occasion of the placing of a Cultural Medallion at the Stonewall Inn, July 16, 2013.

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