7 Queer Poets You Should Know

Poems from LGBT writers Richard Blanco, Frank Bidart, Eileen Myles, Mark Doty, Judy Grahn, CAConrad, and Tim Trace Peterson explore what it means to be queer in America.

BY Daniel Reynolds

November 18 2013 6:00 AM ET

"At the Gym" by Mark Doty

This salt-stain spot
marks the place where men
lay down their heads,
back to the bench,

and hoist nothing
that need be lifted
but some burden they've chosen
this time: more reps,

more weight, the upward shove
of it leaving, collectively,
this sign of where we've been:
shroud-stain, negative

flashed onto the vinyl
where we push something
unyielding skyward,
gaining some power

at least over flesh,
which goads with desire,
and terrifies with frailty.
Who could say who's

added his heat to the nimbus
of our intent, here where
we make ourselves:
something difficult

lifted, pressed or curled,
Power over beauty,
power over power!
Though there's something more

tender, beneath our vanity,
our will to become objects
of desire: we sweat the mark
of our presence onto the cloth.

Here is some halo
the living made together.

Excerpted from Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems by Mark Doty. Copyright 2009. Excerpted with permission by Harper Perennial.

Mark Doty's Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems won the National Book Award for Poetry in 2008. His books of poems include School of the Arts, Source, and My Alexandria. Two new books are forthcoming, both from W.W. Norton: What Is the Grass, a prose meditation on Walt Whitman and the ecstatic, and Deep Lane, a new volume of poems.

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