Poem 15 ± November 15, 2016

R. Zamora Linmark
Split-Second Serenity

This afternoon I read about the time
Tim was admitted to Ward G-9 for AIDS
complications. Former lovers,
magazine editors, and writers
with drag aliases also dropped by,
as themselves or as apparitions.
But every night, at around six,
his lover Chris arrived to coax Tim
into finishing his meal, weep in
Tim’s embrace, until the last second
of visiting hours. Most time, though,
Tim was alone, building a poem
that wouldn’t, couldn’t, stop growing,
as if it had a memory of its own,
tricked itself into believing that
staying unfinished meant more
time to disappear—an inverted
Scheherazade, you could say,
except we all know remembering
is tied to forgetting and cruelty.

Suddenly, I forgot where in Tim’s
unending poem—if he were already
buried by an avalanche of love
or comparing the size of death
with someone from Marseilles—but
everything around me grew calm,
a split-second serenity
that required full submission.
And I, powerless and superstitious
to such visitation, started weeping.
For the life of me, I couldn’t stop,
because Jorge was suddenly back
in full drag regalia en route to Tour Eiffel
before training it south to Rome for
a surprise splash à la Anita Ekberg
at the Trevi fountain. He dragged
along a suitcase of cocktails, rubbing
alcohol, Betadine swabs, a Styrofoam
cooler for the bags of IV antibiotics
I once watched him inject through a PIC
line above his heart. Then Stephen
chimed in, said, “Let’s happy hour.
Hula’s in half hour. Will shower now.”

His lover William, our girlfriend Lisa,
and I got there first, ordered the
Sunday special: highball glass of
piña colada garnished with pineapple
wedge and, for the sakura effect,
a floating pink parasol toothpick.
We waited the length of three slow
rounds, took turns speaking to Stephen’s
answering machine, until worry
drove us speeding to his condo.
There, we found him, standing
and shivering under the shower
for god knows how long, in a daze,
recalling nothing, everything falling,
water after water after water.


r_zamora_linkmarkR. Zamora Linmark is the author of The Evolution of a Sigh and Drive-By Vigils published by Hanging Loose Press. He’s also published the novels Leche (Coffee House Press) and Rolling the R’s (Kaya Press). Forthcoming are These Books Belong to Ken Z, a Young Adult novel from Delacorte Press/Random House, and the poetry collection Pop Verity. Born in Manila and raised in Honolulu, he divides his writing time between Manila and Honolulu.