35 Years of AIDS

Indolent’s original poem-a-day project. A poem a day by a different poet for a full year counting down to 35 years of AIDS on June 5, 2016. Visit our SUBMITTABLE SITE to SUBMIT poems for the HIV Here & Now Print Anthology (forthcoming in 2017).

Poem 367 ± June 5, 2016

Ada Limón
AIDS

It was my nickname
in elementary school.
Short for Ada and said
so cherishingly. Cool
for a nickname, swift
and easily shouted.
Until the ominous
bloom spread even
to the eight-year-olds
under the white oaks
who didn’t know much,
except not to call me
that word anymore. Most
went back to saying
Ada. Others went longer,
Adidas. We knew a word
for shame now, for fear,
so we buried it without
speaking. This, I’m afraid,
was our first cutting out
of the tongue, our first
lesson in silence.

Ada LimonAda Limón is the author of Bright Dead Things (Milkweed Editions, 2015), a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in Poetry and the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award as well as being cited as one of the Top Ten Poetry Books of the Year by The New York Times. Her other books include Lucky Wreck (Autumn House Press, 2006), This Big Fake World (Pearl Editions, 2006), and Sharks in the Rivers (Milkweed Editions, 2010). Ada serves on the faculty of the Queens University of Charlotte Low Residency MFA program and the 24Pearl Street online program for the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. She also works as a freelance writer splitting her time between Lexington, Kentucky and Sonoma, California.

This poem is not previously published.

Poem 366 ± June 4, 2016

Donald Illich
Farm

i am the farm chickens
pigs cows goats horses
i am the pond filled
with fish the barn covered
in hay the tractor gnawing
grass i am the clear sky
mirrored in puddles i am
the farmer dressed in denim
i am his straw hat shielding
sun i am his overalls keeping
up his pants i am the boy
playing with sticks i am
the wife frying eggs i am
the gravestone at the edge
of the property i am the ghost
that moans at night i am
the stars that suddenly appear
i am the light that is life
i am the dark that hides it
i am growing inside her
i am quaking in him i am
the hospital i am the bed
i am the kid visiting the stone
i am the words he says
i am the way he bends down

 

Donald IllichDonald Illich is the author of Rocket Children (2012) and The Art of Dissolving (Finishing Line Press, 2016). His work has appeared in Iowa Review, LIT, Nimrod, Passages North, Rattle, and Sixth Finch, among many other journals. He lives in Rockville, Md.

This poem is not previously published.

Poem 365 ± June 3, 2016

Ruben Quesada
Lament

After Aivazovsky

This star has been dying, God.

And if ancient seahorses and whales
could flee, they would surge into the empty sky.

Watch their tails trail into the distant future like lonely comets

their dying light haunting the darkness,
where anything is possible.

Do not be angry with us. Let us resist the painful weight
of death, the worthless ghost of this daily life.

 

Ruben QuesadaRuben Quesada is editor of Queen Mob’s Tea House and a freelance developmental editor. He is the author of Next Extinct Mammal (Greenhouse Review Press, 2011) and Exiled from the Throne of Night: Selected Translations of Luis Cernuda (Aureole Press, 2008). His writing and digital media appear in numerous journals and anthologies. Find more at rubenquesada.com.

This poem appeared in Miramar.

Poem 364 ± June 2, 2016

J.M. Templet
Two years, one month, one week, three days

I sit across from ghosts
at a folding card table
in the basement of
Our Lady of Perpetual Redemption

I wonder at women saints
I’ve read about
some dying in flame or war
their intellect too beautiful
hiding under those black robes

I want to write a torrid romance
saints must have such terrible guilt
over sex or fantasy
more than shame, more than hate
such purity it must be

Penny, the ghost on my left
is calling herself Penelope today
she thinks if she keeps
changing her name we might
forget her hollow eyes
her hollow necklace of collar bones

she smokes cigarettes attached
to long pipes like in silent films

Rob, our group leader
is too scared to tell her to stop
smoke is not allowed here
we might get cancer

last time he told her that
she leaned over
blew smoke in his mouth
with her black lips missing teeth
she said he kissed like a fish
all trout and no claw

Rob asks me about coping
about hope and inspiration
I’m supposed to talk about God
I’m supposed to ignore
the cross and the man nailed to it

such a symbol to admire
we, the cursed, should be saints
our suffering tears collected
for blessings faith healings seed money

I tell him I’m writing an autobiography
when it is turned into a screenplay
I want Liv Tyler to play me
the young me

without the weak left leg
almost yellow right eye
hitch walk, cave belly
without the bruised lips
arms tattooed with needle marks
blood drawn blood given
garbage in garbage out

we hold hands
our arms an unwilling
circle

Rob barely grips Penny’s
he knows he can’t catch it
his letters are not H nor I nor V
his letters are in that brown book
frayed at the edges
he carries close to his chest

 

J.M. TempletJ.M. Templet’s work has appeared in Triggerfish, Counterexample Poetics, Marathon Literary Review, Strong Verse, Dig, Crossed Genres, and Fae Fatales. She took third place in the St. Louis Writer’s Guild short story contest in 2016. J.M. graduated from LSU several years ago and earned the Matt Clark prize in short fiction there. She recently earned a Master of Library and Information Science degree at Texas Woman’s University. J.M. lives in Baton Rouge where she works in a public library.

This poem is not previously published.

Poem 363 ± June 1, 2016

Nancy L. Meyer
The Jar

When a mother is so old
When a mother is so old
When she insists she is done
yet breathes on and on,
on and on. Then, at last,
gone.

The Chinese jar squats on my desk,
your ginger jar, colors more green
than orange, painted women raise
fingers mittened under kimonos.

My fingers scrub the candied ginger
out of the jar
sift your ashes
into the small opening.
In the grey powder, black wafer, sharp?
A toe tag. Leave it.
Place the jar, white and green,
on your grandmother’s oval tray,
birds-eye maple, color of caramel.
Set the two on my desk.

You are not here—

Birdseed sticks to the squirrel piss on your railing.
This morning of your Memorial,
I finish reading H is for Hawk
and a baby hawk hits our window, falls to the slate,
yellow talons raised, pointless.
We lay him on the table.

The dress I choose is printed with birds.
200 wait on folding chairs
in Bjornson Hall.
My eulogy takes 19 minutes.
We sing you out the door.
We sing Haul Away Joe, haul, haul away.
Everyone pulls on the bowline
and we sing you away.

I keep you
here
in the green, orange jar.

 

nancy l. meyerNancy L. Meyer’s work has appeared in Colorado Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Bitterzoet, Poet’s Touchstone, Wordland, and Kneel Downe’s Stolen Indie as well as five anthologies. New work is forthcoming in Bitterzoet Magazine and Persimmon Tree. Nancy was a finalist in the New Orleans Poetry Festival 2016. Avid cyclist, grandmother of 5, and End of Life Counselor, Nancy lives in Portola Valley, Calif.

This poem is not previously published.

Poem 362 ± May 31, 2016

Ina Roy-Faderman
circadian rhythm

your body clock
beats
the heart’s
talking cells speak
of red endless
circles like
the salt of the
ocean flows through
the world that is
you that lives with
one hundred
thousand lives across
your skin and in
your mouth that lips
can breathe out
explorers touch
galaxies shared
within an embrace yet
so far away when we
touch atoms collide or
move between
one another and we pass
through each
other ghosts that
settle into dust
but never die
never part

 

Ina Roy-FadermanIna Roy-Faderman started writing fiction and poetry while in medical school, and started publishing after completing her MD and starting a PhD in medical ethics. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in Punchnel’s, Pif Magazine, Writer’s Digest Magazine, and Right Hand Pointing. She is the editor of a volume of poetry from the August Postcard Poetry Festival, forthcoming from Five Oaks Press. Ina lives near San Francisco, where she works as school librarian and literacy coordinator at a school for gifted children. Ina also teaches philosophy long-distance for Oregon State University.

This poem is not previously published.

Poem 361 ± May 30, 2016

Jeremy Dixon
The Editor

honestly nothing happens
over pizza on City Road
he talks Hollywood slander
and sleeping off red carpets
under boardroom tables

you need a pseudonym
like me he says
write it all down
he knows many words
I can’t keep up

there’s his sister’s wedding
we build people towers
in the castle grounds
but he won’t join hands
he’s with somebody else

at the all-night shop
in a Guardian obit
I read his story
a diary of lost men
that’s how I find out

has some bastard hurt you
asks an anxious drag queen
as I cry at the Benefit night
write it all down he says
who needs to own a racehorse

 

jeremy-dixonJeremy Dixon lives in rural South Wales making Artist’s Books that combine poetry and photography. His poems have appeared in The Found Poetry Review, Really System, Riptide Journal, Roundyhouse and other journals. For more information visit hazardpress.co.uk, or find him on Twitter @HazardPressUK

This poem is not previously published.

Poem 360 ± May 29, 2016

Tela L. Love
Journey Through My Truth

Yes. I’ve been the hurt one, sad confused and afraid.

Believing for my promiscuities; for my insecurities; for my impurities there was a price to be paid.
I’ve lain down with the wrong man and arose to find I now carry a deadly strand taking the form of HIV inside of me.
What do I do now?  I’ve lost my will to live.
That’s what I first thought when I tested positive.

I fought with myself.

With my emotions I did wrestle with how this virus somehow crept into my vessel.
I cried constantly using drugs to cope.
My dealer became my doctor; he kept me supplied with dope.
I ran from the truth, destroyed any proof, I had HIV unknowing it was the truth I needed to set me free.
With no one to blame for this mind numbing pain, I isolated as I contemplated ways to die.

Tired of suffering and living this lie.

In public I wore baggy clothes and a hood covered my head.
There was a vacancy in my eyes while I roamed as the walking dead.
Then one day I fell to my knees and belted out a cry.

Why Lord why?

The Great Spirit said, “Hold on, be strong. I’m not ready for you to come home.
You were living recklessly and we’re running out of time.
You were moving much too fast and I need you back in line.
I’m preparing you to do things you never thought you would.
Just know, My Child, all things are working together for your good.”
So today I don’t blame the man whom I thought for certain held my life in his hand.
Cause truth be told; he broke no law.

It was my decision to let him to enter me raw.

Today I say:
Protect yourself, don’t infect yourself.
Protect yourself, don’t disrespect yourself.
Protect yourself, don’t neglect yourself!
Because in 2016, If you fall weak to temptation and give in to lust…

Please remember to play it safe and wrap it up.

 

Tela L. LoveMinister Tela LaRaine Love is an artist, advocate, and activist from New Orleans, Louisiana. She is co-founder of New Legacy Ministries, a grassroots organization striving to raise the voices of marginalized communities, including transgender women of color. Through her experience and passion as a media personality, peer counselor and youth mentor she has excelled in maintaining a positive online and in-person community presence for transgender women of color. She has served on the New Orleans Regional AIDS Planning Council and is a member of the Positive Women’s Network, a volunteer at NO/AIDS Task Force, and an ally of Women with a Vision, BreakOUT, Center for Ethical Living and Social Justice Renewal. Tela has participated in a Human Rights Watch data collection effort in New Orleans to stop the unfair harassment of transgender and commercial sex worker populations and to support access to syringe and clean needle exchange in New Orleans.

This poem is not previously published.

Poem 359 ± May 28, 2016

Kenneth Wagner
Surprise

EDITOR’S NOTE:
To preserve the complex formatting of this poem, we have included it as a PDF that will open in a separate tab when you click on the title below:

Surprise by Kenneth Wagner

 

Kenneth WagnerKenneth Wagner’s work has appeared in Recently published in Synesthesia Literary Journal, Hanging Loose, and Rattle. He lives in Sammamish, Washington.

This poem is not previously published.

Poem 358 ± May 27, 2016

Larry D. Thacker
Neon Lover

There’s something about neon that seduces me.
A sign or two I can handle, thank goodness, but
a street in Korea or Japan vertically striped

like sliced night sun, the buzzy tentacles lifting
the spirit of my electromagnetic being off the sidewalk
and down an alley into the true pulse of the city. This,

I found, I could never resist. I was its constant mindful
color lusting whore, swearing to be true inside its
morphed electric gut of another planet, squirming

in my mutual birth and sex act, a scream away
from deliverance and arrival, eyes thieved away
by a burned scene on the back of my brain, unblinking,

feral in the night wind tasting of metal and liquor.

 

Larry D. ThackerLarry D. Thacker is the author of Mountain Mysteries: The Mystic Traditions of Appalachia (Overmountain Press, 2007) and the poetry chapbooks Voice Hunting (Finishing Line Press, 2011) and Memory Train (Finishing Line Press, 2015). His poems have appeared in The Still Journal, Unbroken Journal, Mojave River Review, and other journals, as well as in Southern Poetry Anthology VI: Tennessee (Texas Review Press, 2013). A student services higher education professional for fifteen years, he is now completing an MFA at West Virginia Wesleyan College.

This poem is not previously published.