int lesbian day re

International Lesbian Day is a day that originated in Aotearoa, around 1980. Queer historians say that it was celebrated in May originally, but was moved to 08 October, six months after International Women's Day. International Lesbian Day is one of two annual celebrations of lesbians; the other is Lesbian Visibility Day on 26 April.

Cadence Chung

hey girls

Hey girls         could we dance

    in the glister of a winter night      could we hum

along to the hazy beat of jazz?     We could be neon

 

we could be starlets      eyeliner like slits in our skin

     holding that little 20s powder compact    in the shape of

a gun       (with a matching bullet-shaped lipstick).

 

God, girls         I’d love to glow as green as

       radium glassware, discarded in the night

like a ghost’s banquet, all the dead dames and dandies

 

      sipping toxic wine, listening to the click of the

Geiger counter getting louder     louder      louder, girls,

   there are graves that still hum with radiation, that you

 

can’t stand too close to      or your cells will go haywire

    split, swirl, divide     oh girls        I’d paint my lips

  fluorescent green      just to poison for 24,000 years longer.

 

Hey ladies       if the jazz gets too much    then how about

   we listen to the slow    descent    into tragedy

that Chopin always reminds me of      like the blood

 

crusted onto a stale knife      with lapis, emerald, ruby

   on the hilt. We could waltz       far too close

at the ball       cause a scandal       come home with

 

our petticoats swapped around     and smelling like

       each other, so much so        that the swallows would

change their paths, mix up their routes        confused

 

with the exchange of souls       and lace, and love. My girls,

       I could be the humble gardener     with crooked teeth

and dirt down my nails       you could be the fair dame

 

who never accepts marriage proposals      and spends

    all her time planting violets       to coat in coarse sugar

make the bitter petals sweet.     Girls, we could dance

 

in the dry-throated-heart-thumping mess of waiting

    backstage before a show, listen to the crowd shout

louder than the glaring stars.        We could wear huge

 

plastic earrings, so heavy       they can only be worn

   once a year. Girls, let’s tie the ends     of our button-down blouses

and make them into crop-tops      wear sunglasses on

 

our heads, but never let them blind us     to our brightness. Hey

    hey      hey     girls        if flowers bloom on my grave

then I hope they have disco lights        on their stamens

 

so people never forget      the sweat-slicked thumpthumpthump

     of my past; the statues        of the Greeks    were once painted

and were hideously gaudy, but we forget      that things were not

 

always just bronze, marble, and plaster.      We forget the click

      from the gravestones, growing louder every day. Ticktickticktick

tick, the ground is growing heavy     from the weight    of such

 

blistering souls it carries. Tickticktickticktick, girls, before

   it’s too late    let us paint ourselves    with the brightest pigment

  and burn our kisses    into history books    ‒     xoxoxo.

Cadence Chung is a poet, student, musician, and composer from Te Whanganui-a-Tara, currently studying at the New Zealand School of Music. Her debut poetry chapbook anomalia was written in her last year of high school and published in April 2022 by We Are Babies Press. Her writing takes inspiration from Tumblr posts, antique stores, and dead poets. She identifies as Asian, queer, and autistic.

'hey girls' was originally published in Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2021