Queer Poetry for Every Sign

Queer poets come in all shapes, sizes, and zodiac signs

Scattered tarot cards
Photo by Viva Luna Studios on Unsplash

Poetry and astrology are both tools that can help us understand our lives. Astrology gives us a framework to better see ourselves and locate our gifts. Poetry gives us the freedom to dream and the invaluable reassurance that someone out there has felt our feelings before; we’re not alone in our sorrows, our happiness and our thousands of indescribable feelings.

As LGBTQIA+ lives are not always easy to navigate, poetry and astrology can both provide guides to help us understand our relationships, our world and ourselves. Queer poets come in all shapes and sizes – and more important, they’re spread out throughout all the signs of the zodiac. From Sappho and Oscar Wilde to Michelle Tea and Nikki Giovanni, these poets have long given us the gift of their poems to help us make sense of our lives. Reading a poet who shares our sign can also help us better appreciate the characteristics of the sign as well as the poems themselves. 

If You’re an Aries, Read Jericho Brown’s “Track 1: Lush Life”

The boldness of this poem exemplifies what Aries are all about. These fire signs are fierce, ambitious and bold. In this case, the narrator is drawn to the same nightclub every Saturday: “You drive to the center of town / To be whipped by a woman’s voice.”

The poem ends as boldly as it starts, with a promise to keep living this very specific kind of “lush life”: “Speak to me in a lover’s tongue— / Call me your bitch, and I’ll sing the whole night long.”

If You’re a Taurus, Read Adrienne Rich’s “Planetarium” 

This poem begins with a nod to the female astronomer Caroline Herschel, after whom several comets are named. Rich pays homage to Herschel throughout the poem, pointing out that she was a woman making moves in a field dominated by men. 

“she whom the moon ruled   

like us

levitating into the night sky   

riding the polished lenses”

This poem (written by a Taurus) expresses the tenacity of Tauruses everywhere. These bullish earth signs will go to the end of the earth (as Herschel quite literally did) to accomplish what they set out to do. 

“The radio impulse   

pouring in from Taurus

         I am bombarded yet         I stand”

If You’re a Gemini, Read Federico García Lorca’s “Ode to Walt Whitman”

Lorca pays homage to a fellow queer Gemini poet in this energetic poem, which begins by describing the men of the city: 

“Along East River and the Bronx, 

the young men were singing, baring their waists, 

with the wheel and the leather, the hammer, the oil.” 

The poem continues describing the boys of New York, with a Gemini-like switch between pleasure and agony. At a time when homosexuality was much more criminalized in the U.S. than it is now, Lorca speaks of “the overcast swamp where the boys are submerged” and notes that “the moon whips them on into terrified corners.” 

In spite of the social constraints of the time, the poem also shows the ecstasy of being queer. Lorca says, “Not for one moment, Walt Whitman, comely old man, / have I ceased to envision your beard full of butterflies,” conjuring up a magical and kingly image of the revered poetry icon. 

If You’re a Cancer, Read June Jordan’s  “Poem for My Love”

Cancers are water signs who are overflowing with compassion and empathy. As this poem’s narrator recognizes just how special her bond with her lover is, she marvels: “How do we come to be here next to each other / in the night.”

And later:

“I am amazed by peace

It is this possibility of you

asleep

and breathing in the quiet air”

Full of love and full of hope, Jordan’s poem speaks to the romantic in all of us. 

If You’re a Leo, Read Ali Liebegott’s “The Beautifully Worthless” 

“The Beautifully Worthless” is a novel written in verse, following a woman as she leaves her lover behind and takes her loyal Dalmatian on a road trip. In one of the poetry excerpts from the story, she describes her aching love for a married woman. The story is full of light, energy and fire – she ruminates on “the half-lit wavering sun,” “the light of a lamp on a desk” and “the light / of that bright winter afternoon.” 

Even brighter than the light, though, is the narrator’s natural Leo charm. As she admits to her married paramour:

“You think I fall in love all the time. 

I should tell you the truth about something.
This week I asked three people to marry me.
You, my ex-girlfriend, and the librarian.”

Leos are, after all, extremely charismatic. 

If You’re a Virgo, Read Natalie Diaz’s “Of Course She Looked Back”

If this poem is interpreted as a modernized look at Lot’s wife, readers can imagine a Biblical character turned into a pillar of salt after she looked back at Sodom while escaping the city, then seen as a very wicked place. 

The ever-steady narrator knows she needs to leave quickly, but her practical mind is still preoccupied with the logistics of her escape:

“She wondered had she unplugged
the coffee pot? The iron?
Was the oven off?
Her husband uttered Keep going.
Whispered Stay the course, or
Baby, forget about it. She couldn’t.”

The Virgo in her is trying her best to keep everything organized, despite the fact that nothing about the escape goes according to plan. 

If You’re a Libra, Read Ocean Vuong’s “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous”

This poem represents the balanced nature of Libras, the sign of the scales: “How I wanted to be that sky — to hold every flying & falling at once.”

Libras’ love for nature glows in one of the poem’s most beautiful stanzas, which presents both the humanity and cruelty of nature: 

“Say surrender. Say alabaster. Switchblade.

Honeysuckle. Goldenrod. Say autumn.

Say autumn despite the green

in your eyes. Beauty despite

daylight. Say you’d kill for it. Unbreakable dawn

mounting in your throat.

My thrashing beneath you

like a sparrow stunned

with falling.”

If You’re a Scorpio, Read Marianne Moore’s “A Graveyard”

In this darkly beautiful poem, the narrator sees the ocean as the titular graveyard. Scorpios are water signs, known for plumbing the darkness of the human heart – or in Moore’s case, the vast ocean that surrounds us all. 

The narrator states, “the sea has nothing to give but a well excavated grave.” This chilling line encapsulates the Scorpio mindset – Scorpio is the sign of sex and death. 

The poem continues, expressing both the depth and the mystery of the deep and dark ocean:

“and the ocean, under the pulsation of light-houses and noise of bell-buoys, 

advances as usual, looking as if it were not that ocean in which dropped things are bound to sink— 

in which if they turn and twist, it is neither with volition nor consciousness.”

If You’re a Sagittarius, Read Saeed Jones’s “Anthem” 

Before passing away in 2016 at the age of 116, Susannah Mushatt Jones was the world’s oldest living person. She was born in 1899 in Alabama and spent her final days in Brooklyn, New York. Sagittarius poet Saeed Jones pays tribute to this woman who lived through so much of American history. 

“But—just a few breaths before
she died—the oldest woman in America decided
her body could carry the highest note, one last time,
for the rest of us. Something about the nature of Black
lungs breathing through 116 years and 311 days.
Something about what being born in Alabama in 1899
and making it to 2016 in Brooklyn does to the throat.
It was a spring evening and the stars refused to sit still,
blinking as they burned above her in the dark.”

Sagittarius is the sign of wisdom and flexibility, and this poem shows what the indomitable Susannah Mushatt Jones represented to Black Americans. 

If You’re a Capricorn, Read Carol Ann Duffy’s “Valentine”

Instead of a more traditional “cute card or a kissogram,” the narrator of this quirky love poem opts to give her lover an onion: “a moon wrapped in brown paper.” 

“Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.”

Capricorns are known to be tenacious, and the narrator holds true to her belief that a pungent onion – with its intense smell, classic flavor and surprisingly large amount of health-positive properties – is much more meaningful that any cliché card or candy.

If You’re an Aquarius, Read Audre Lorde’s “Recreation”

In this poem, two writers come together in love – all that passion, all that emotion! As one lover says to the other:

“my body

writes into your flesh

the poem

you make of me.”

Aquarians fall in love deeply, and Lorde’s beautiful language showcases the creativity the sign is known for.

“Touching you I catch midnight   

as moon fires set in my throat   

I love you flesh into blossom”

If You’re a Pisces, Read Chen Chen’s “Poplar Street” 

This daydreamy poem is a one-sided conversation between the narrator and an unknown stranger (soon-to-be friend) whom they meet by chance. The awkwardly endearing narrator tries to bond with the stranger with delightful non-sequiturs: “Maybe, beyond briefcases, we have some things / in common. I like jelly beans. I’m afraid of death.”

The poem demonstrates how people (and especially LGBTQIA+ people) yearn for connection and must reach out to create the communities and families that they need: “I’m trying out this thing where questions about love & forgiveness / are a form of work I’d rather not do alone.”

The sweetness and thoughtfulness of the Pisces shines throughout Chen’s work as he meanders through his imaginary conversation. 

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