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 357 ± May 26, 2016

Stuart Barnes
I

hardly recognise the trial—twenty-one cycles over the sun—but I know it wasn’t child’s play. ‘Are you—’ ‘Yes, Mum.’ ‘You’ll fucking die of AIDS.’ I apologised—I can only sympathise with the daily rain of brimstone, fire. In artificial air I lay on my side and scrutinised the waverings of your eye—sea-green, curious, terrified—and the contradictory Whys and the cradle-to-grave compliance. Since Friday I’ve quantified kilometres—one thousand five hundred and seventy, precisely—on a diagram, in my mind. ‘This distance requires—’ ‘Pfft.’ Ripely decided. Stupid fruit. My spine’s weak also, yet I’m acquiring the art of ballooning the diaphragm. That terrible final telephone call. ‘I’d love to be in a relationship with somebody like’—which terrorises—‘you’. Crying. Mystified: ‘Are you all right?’ Dryly: ‘Yes, I’m fine, fine, fine.’ ‘Well then, bye, bye, bye,’ you recited. Poof! Fire, water: cardinal, fixed. Our rulers Pluto, Mars; our detriment Venus. How do you survive, bonsai? Why why why won’t you actualise oomph, do you simply ogle lives through that sea-green, curious, terrified eye.

Stuart BarnesStuart Barnes was born in Hobart, Tasmania, and educated at Monash University. His first book, Glasshouses (UQP, August 2016), won the 2015 Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize. Since 2013 he has lived in Central Queensland and has been poetry editor for Tincture Journal. He tweets as @StuartABarnes.

An earlier version of this poem appeared in Communion.

Poem 356 ± May 25, 2016

Jill L. Cooper
Heaven Is Now

Often hidden in the problem—some
unintelligible equation scribbled in chalk—
resides the formula to freedom.

Peel off the bitter rind of “issues,” and relish
what you have been given, what you have
created, what you feel—bittersweet as it may be.

Not as some cruel “lesson.” Not as just
an “obstacle to overcome,” but expect that joy
can surprise you, even amidst a knot of frustration.

This is your best secret. Slow down and feel
everything.

The fruit of joy can appear right where you are,
where you least expected it. Let every so-called
problem have a chance to present its gifts to you.

Heaven is always now.

 

Version 2Jill L. Cooper’s work has appeared in The Raven Chronicles, The Floating Bridge Review, Shark Reef Literary Magazine, Rewire Me, The Rebelle Society, and other journals, as well as in the anthologies Silent Applause of Butterflies (Columbia Center for the Arts, 2014), Pontoon (Floating Bridge, 2015), Delirious—A Tribute to Prince (Night Ballet Press, 2016), and I Only Wanted to See You Laughing (Yellow Chair Review, 2016). Jill was the creator and editor of The Yes Book (Exult Road, 2014). She has served as the Executive Director of a Buddhist publishing house and as a consultant to authors and publishers. She lives in southeastern Washington State.

This poem is not previously published.

Poem 355 ± May 24, 2016

Jason S. Price
Tears for a cure

If tears could raise them from the ashes
I’ve cried
a salted sea
not for their ghosts but that we will never
forget them:
forget their sunny dispositions,
forget their sores,
forget their purple laughters,
the sadness they carried long
before they closed their eyes forever.
Sometimes I think I may have forgotten
the miles & miles of antiseptic corridors,
of pacing in the wait for news,
forget the sudden screams of shock
although I was told weeks ago to be prepared
(I was never prepared)
how could I be when Death was on a mission
to kill the fete?
Now with the bones of my eyes glaring I weep
for the rest of my days, days I’ll die to spend
painting the details of a face hoping for a cure.

 

Jason S. PriceJason S. Price is a Belize-American writer. His works include several books of poetry, a collection of short stories, and a novel. Currently, he serves as a moderator for the Poets Dream online community and supports a mentoring program in New York City.

This poem is not previously published.

Poem 354 ± May 23, 2016

j.lewis
some afternoon

he is gone, he is gone
news travels fast, and faster
when it is hard to bear
i feel a forming thunder-cloud
prediction of the flood to come
not so much sorrow for the dead
as for the living left alone
who will turn some afternoon
to share a thought or laugh
before the embarrassed pain
when he is not where we expect him

it took me years past her dying
to stop thinking
i must share this or that
with mother, she will laugh
and ask for repetitions

we miss them every one
those who go but not completely
walking the halls and corners of our minds
quietly waiting those moments
those unexpected afternoons
when we address them with
a sentence, a song, a sudden smile
before reality descends and covers them
in drapes of sad remembering

 

Jim Lewisj.lewis’s poems have appeared in EXPOUND, The Gnarled Oak, Spark, and other journals as well as in a number of anthologies. His poetry collection, a clear day in october, is forthcoming from Empire & Great Jones Little Press.

This poem is not previously published.

Poem 353 ± May 22, 2016

Melina Gotera
The Hickey Poem

I wore your hickey on my earlobe like a badge.
Purple heart, my pride. It felt like bee stings every time I touched it.

I touched it a lot.
It just kept buzzing in my ears, like your whisper that night.
My heart a churning hive, all burning and heat and only for you.
All sweet like honey.

I wore your hickey like my worth.
My proof of purchase as I sat down at the diner booth
with my girlfriends the next morning.
This happens more than you’d think.

Clothed in last night’s crop tops and a false film of “isn’t this funny?”
we set our one-night stumbles one by one onto the table.

Next to the jelly packets, next to our pride.
We measure them out like sugar
weigh them, check for evidence.
Your hickey was still there.

We’re always half-laughing, half-banging ourselves over the head.
And sometimes half-Hope
when we think no one’s looking.

Am I virginal enough?
Did I let you kiss me too rough?
Where do I lie in your mind now?
Are you still tangled in my blankets?
When you leftwhydidyouhurry do I worry too much?

Did I swallow enough shots that night for me to laugh this one off?
Toss it to the floor if it doesn’t pan out,
liquor weighing heavy as a wet boot to my gut when you tell me
you don’t remember anything from last weekend.

Where is my security?
Did I leave it in my blankets?
Cause I’m still tangled in those blankets
Among your wicked, spidered limbs.
They wrapped around me in the morning time,
Your kiss woke me up.
Bee stings, honey.

Your hickey faded with time.
But some nights I can still hear it
Buzzing.

 

Melina Gotera headshotMelina Gotera sings in the indie folk duo Amelia and Melina, where she co-writes all original material. Her poems have been published in The Best Teen Writing of 2009 and the magazine ETC. Melina teaches art to children at the Hearst Center for the Arts. She lives in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

This poem is not previously published.

Poem 352 ± May 21, 2016

Cally Conan-Davies
After a Candlelit Reading of “The Dead”

“He gave the words the right amount of steel”—
then you speak aloud the last words of “The Dead”
as we walk along the south bank of the Thames.
St Paul’s looks real. Your arm through mine feels real.

But I’m not convinced. It’s almost Christmas. Dark
and silent, the river cold below its skin,
and the lights are Christmas lights, and I hear again
snow againsilver and darkon every part

You are a lover. Lovers are hardened by love,
lovers are buoyed by, lovers are weakened by love.
Let’s hear them again, those words. It’s late, and the Thames
shivers with light. Angels row on the Thames,

but steel in the lonely churchyard and crooked crosses
is not steel enough to ferry away our losses.

 

cally-conan-daviesCally Conan-Davies’s poems have appeared in Poetry, The Hudson Review, Hopkins Review, Virginia Quarlerly Review, Southwest Review, Harvard Review, Sewanee Review, and other journals in the US, the UK, and Australia. Cally lives in Newport, Oregon.

This poem is not previously published.

Poem 351 ± May 20, 2016

Rodney Jack
Little Sickness Song

I measure the days
in medicine trays oh my

Sunday through Sunday
cloudy or sunny
my pillbox is by my side oh my
my pillbox by my side

And again this morning
the porcelain this morning
cold so white inside oh my
so cold so white inside

Taking the tablets
prescription and habit
five times a day
for all of my days, oh
how many days? oh my, oh my

 

Rodney JackRodney Jack was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He served in the United States Navy for six years, and on board the USS Missouri during Operation Desert Storm. He received an MFA from Warren Wilson College, where he was a Holden Minority Fellow. He was also the recipient of the Eunice Tietjens Memorial Prize from Poetry, a GE Foundation Resident Artist of Color at Yaddo, a Fellow at MacDowell, a Peter Mayer Scholar at the Sewanee Writers Conference and a Bread Loaf Scholar at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference. His work appeared in AGNI, Blackbird, Open City, Ploughshares, and The Open Door: 100 Poems, 100 Years of Poetry Magazine. In the fall of 2007, he returned to Warren Wilson as the Beebe Teaching Fellow. He took his own life on August 6, 2008.

This poem appeared in Poetry.

Poem 350 ± May 19, 2016

Bree LeMaire
He Kissed Me

We were saying good-by and he kissed me
Not just a brush against my cheek, but
On my lips.
Did he feel me flinch?
Expect It?
Was there fear or revulsion?
My mind went to other places,
Blood, body fluids.
Was there saliva,
Is it still there?
He spoke with anger, being invisible,
Not enough food or cash
And confronted me, the establishment
On my lips.
He knew his target.
I offered platitudes,
A half-hearted hug,
Something like, “Buck-up,”
Never wanted a kiss,
On my lips.

 

Bree LeMaireBree LeMaire worked as an AIDS research nurse for ten years. Her work has appeared in The Sun, Nurse Week, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Optimist: An AIDS Project Los Angeles Publication, and the Inspector Newspaper. Bree lives in San Francisco.

This poem is not previously published.

Poem 349 ± May 18, 2016

Matty Layne
haiku (for my first ex-boyfriend on his twenty-eighth birthday)

queer. another year.
my how all the years (and queers)
have loosened your rear.

 

Matty_Layne-Here__Now_SubmissionMatty Layne is a political pixie of a poet and MFA Candidate in Creative Writing & Environment at Iowa State University where he teaches composition and rhetoric. His poems on social and environmental justice have appeared or are forthcoming in Rust+Moth, Flyway, The New Verse News, and other journals.

Poem 348 ± May 17, 2016

Peter Nickowitz
Stanzas (1-6)

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:

STANZAS (1-6)

 

Peter NickowitzPeter Nickowitz is the author of Cinema Vernacular (Publication Studio, 2014) and Rhetoric and Sexuality: The Poetry of Hart Crane, Elizabeth Bishop, and James Merrill (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006). His plays include The Alice Complex; Backgammon at the Louvre; Love, Alters, Everything; and Songs & Statues. Peter was the 2008-2009 Harold Clurman Playwright-in-Residence at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting and was head of the Studio’s Harold Clurman Playwrights Division from 2009-2012. Peter teaches in the Goldberg Department of Dramatic Writing at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He lives in in New York City.

These poems appear in Cinema Vernacular.