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Don't Say

Grief makes its home in silence and idleness

I turned silences and nights into words

And from time to time look’d up in perfect silence at the stars

What you observed was only silence

Which speaks verbosely of its own silence

So instead she drowned in silence

Silence is all we dread

That swells with silence in the tortured soul

Silence is the cruelest of cruelties

And secret valleys in whose silence I may weep undisturbed

Since I lost you I am silence-haunted

But my tongue is frozen in silence

My ears have the lids of a silence

The hours change clothes in silence

Tall treasurehouses, moonmaidenly silence

I catch the pattern of your silence

In the sweet white silence of your cells

The roar and silence of a vast electric shock

A few hours into cradling ourselves to silence

She climbed into the silence with him, staying there, feeling its soft curves

Not wanting it to go back to the secret silence of just a few hours before

Since we live in an age in which silence is not only criminal but suicidal

Your silence will not protect you

But the silence provides no shelter and the wildness catches up to them

Silence about a thing just magnifies it

Silence is oppression, is violence

We insist on silence

Have yearned and died in silence

Her own voice, but not from her throat, spears the silence

She soaked up the silence, drunk it like the freshest whale milk

The one word, then silence

Silence. Its head flopped back

Silence. Without a name, you may not speak

When the soldiers entered the gay ward and beat them into silence

Nobody trusts silence

No stony silence in the media, only a little sunlight and frowning

No music save what the moonlight breathes through the flute of silence

Nor strength to praise, only defeat and silence

Unrelenting oratory and then a golden silence

Instead I weaponize my silence, learn to fear my family

His loudest sound is a giant silence

I still knelt at the feet of the silence pooling

The round silence of night, one note on the stave of the infinite

Then there’s the silence that comes back

They had silences, at last, that were almost crudities of mutual resistance

Only some kind of breaking off, like the abrupt silencing of a tune

I’ve been suffering through that in silence because it feels too banal to bitch about

The silence goes on for a really long time, but probably not, like, that long

You must learn to live alone in silence

To live in chosen silence and darkness

This silence in the year since my mom died

Shrill gorgon silence breathes behind

The short season between two silences

The silence other than the living song

Silence is mocking the dawn of a new day

Silence, silence I don’t hear

In a sudden trough of silence

In silence to the ground

The god’s silence has fallen on every house

The silence strong enough to carry back the music to its source

Your silence is too loud for this noisy place

These eyes, each a knife. Silence shrinks me

Does silence choke speech or does it not


This is a collage of lines and phrases from works by writers and musicians who are understood by many to be in the queer community.

Lines in order come from:

Jacqueline Koyanagi

Arthur Rimbaud

Walt Whitman

Samuel Delany

Michel Foucault

Chi Ta-wei

Emily Dickinson

William Shakespeare

Roxane Gay

Oscar Wilde

D.H. Lawrence


Matsuo Takahashi

James Merrill

Suniti Namjoshi

Langston Hughes

Paul Verlaine

Allen Ginsberg

Asa Akira

Akwaeke Emezi

Selena Kitt

James Baldwin

Audre Lorde

Robert Jones Jr

Tennessee Williams

Adrienne Rich

June Jordan

Alain Locke

Benjanun Sriduangkaew

Rivers Solomon

Patricia Highsmith

Nalo Hopkinson

Ng Yi-Sheng

Reinaldo Arenas

Nikki Giovanni

John Ashbery

Marcel Proust


Elizabeth Bishop

Britteney Black Rose Kapri

Binyavanga Wainaina

Franny Choi

Federico Garcia Lorca

Ada Limón

Henry James

Emma Donoghue

Torrey Peters

Imogen Binnie

William Burroughs

Janet Mock

Thomas Page McBee

Robert Hayden

Virginia Woolf

Jude Sierra

Marc Bolan

Cardi B

Nalo Hopkinson


Marlon James

Hart Crane

Koleka Putuma

Alexander Chee

Gertrude Stein

NOAH BERLATSKY (he/him) is a freelance writer in Chicago. He's had chapbooks published at above/ground press, LJMcD Communications, and the Origami Poetry Project. He has a collection forthcoming from Ben Yehuda press. He tweets too much at @nberlat and scribbles longer at Everything is Horrible.


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