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Victims of the Plague
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Victims of the Plague

(for Thom Gunn 1929-2004)

Perhaps our dances, in a thousand years,
Will tattooed be as drums,
And our bright minds, undone by fate,
Shall in the musk of eons drown.

Our souls will all rise glorified
As pods of whales weave waves.
Our flesh, once firm, relaxed as stones
That serve to mark our graves.

Our pleasures seen as ancient rites
Describable as dreams.
Our voices, in a million years?
Insubstantial as starbeams.

Perhpas our songs,  in a billion years,
Will as steel stiffened be,
And our arabesques as gestural
As paintings of the sea.

Our nods will be but inclinations
Of the folds beneath the eyes.
Our plans but vague intentions
Of the wind beneath the skies.

Our breath, a transpiration
Of dust immured in dust.
Our lives, a visitation
Of a rushlight drowned in musk.

All these, our words and scattered songs,
May come, in time, to less than naught,
As Mayan blocks of hard hacked stone
Embalm the skin we once sloughed off.

But now, like rattles kept within
A jeweled bone box, our hollowed skin
Is shaken in the rambles of the park
To frighten schoolgirls after dark.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • ghostsniper February 23, 2020, 4:40 AM

    diseased vermin
    get a rope

  • LB1901 February 23, 2020, 6:29 AM

    I’m perplexed by the demanded adjective ‘gay.’ I’ll avoid the obvious etymology about ‘homosexual’ or ‘sodomite,’ and defer to their preferred, but why demand such an adjective, at all? Your body fluid swap holds no interest for me – regardless of ones polarity or predilection. It bores me.

    Can you entice an audience so they eagerly pay for your talent? Tinker, Tailor, Writer, Spy; actor, singer, bake a pie. What business is your sexuality for I?

    Gay Tinker, Gay Tailor, Gay Writer, Gay Spy; gay actor, gay singer, gay bake a pie…

    How gauche.

  • Anon February 23, 2020, 7:16 AM

    I am a man. I love sex, who doesn’t? When I was young the girls were very kind to me. But I turned down far more than I choose to love. The fear of a VD kept me from doing stupid things. If you know what the gays in San Francisco do/did you cannot help but conclude that they committed suicide. A sad conclusion but I don’t know there is any other true and honest definition of their actions.

  • Jack February 23, 2020, 8:40 AM

    Frankly, I don’t give a shit. Homos are some of the most crazy assed and delusional creeps on the planet and their souls will not rise glorified. Their’s are doomed to abomination.

    I believe in the hope of man but only in the context of doing whatever it takes, attempt after attempt and failure after failure, to live the way the Lord has told us to live. And not for Heaven either but because He is right and He made us for His purposes.

  • Gagdad Bob February 23, 2020, 9:22 AM

    There’s a name for members of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Choir who didn’t die of AIDS: unpopular.

  • Vanderleun February 23, 2020, 9:25 AM

    Sometimes you gotta take the long view boys.

  • paul February 23, 2020, 1:29 PM

    I had a friend in college named Andy Einkauf. We got along well enough that after a couple of years in the dorms we shared an apartment in Edinburg. That didn’t work as planned. Heck, what plan? Beyond getting out of the dorms? The dorms were nicer and you didn’t have to cook. Or find stuff like furniture.

    He was a Music Major. Always “going to be an Opera Singer”. He could sing…

    I moved to Austin and we lost touch. The whole being 23 and trying to get your stuff together on your own takes a lot of time. I managed. By myself. I still can not stand the smell of Blueberry syrup. Busing tables at night at IHOP will do that.

    After a couple of years in Austin, Andy called. Came by to visit. He had joined some choir in California and was on his way to Europe for a concert. A couple of years later he came back on his way to California. Europe was a blast, he said.

    I moved a few times around Austin. I’ve lost contact with a lot of folks I knew. Life, I suppose. A few years ago I had the idea to Google Andy. One mention in all of Google and there he was, on the Memorial page of the SF Gay Choir. I never knew he was sick.

    He became an opera singer. I never learned to fly. My first car was a used taxi.

  • muriel February 23, 2020, 2:10 PM

    Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo had a similar fate. Probably also The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a SF street performance group.

  • Vanderleun February 23, 2020, 2:56 PM

    I’ve got the same stories as Paul but maybe, it having been San Fran and then New York, it is in the dozens.

  • Bill Henry February 23, 2020, 5:50 PM

    Men seem to have a built in self destruct mechanism.

    Women too.. I guess we all do.

  • captflee February 24, 2020, 11:38 AM

    Spent the first half of the eighties mainly in New Orleans and San Francisco, so grew sadly accustomed to acquaintances (and the odd friend or two) slipping away in the months I was elsewhere. As an observer of that plague from uncomfortably nearby, I am relieved that at least now the disease may be fought off much longer than in its early years, when the days from diagnosis to death were all too few. And this was and is a comparatively difficult disease to spread…mebbe there’s something to the whole “life of moderation” bit, after all. Maybe I’ll check it out next turn of the wheel.

  • captflee February 24, 2020, 5:59 PM

    Hewing as I do to the tragic view of life, I earnestly hope that any of us is capable of change when presented with a profound reckoning (such as an HIV diagnosis), but have found the human animal too frequently ridden by the imp of the perverse to wager that way.

    As the father of an aspirant deputy sheriff, I am indeed relieved to know that in the unlikely event that he should be bitten by some junkie with the bug, that he might be able to continue living on for many years.

    Lord knows, our corporate overlords at Big Pharma seem to be, assuming the torrent of ads flogging various pre-exposure prophyllaxis drugs daily before me on the lobotomy box is not a hallucination, rather ebullient regarding the prospect of the billions to be headed to their offshore accounts, anticipating many decades of lucrative trade.

  • Grizzly February 24, 2020, 7:10 PM

    So all that died, died from AIDS? No one died of just old age? That must have been a pretty young crowd.