Poem 21 ± June 25

Michael Carosone
This Is How You Teach AIDS Literature

This is how you teach AIDS literature
to a freshman seminar class
at New Jersey City University

You cry on the train
as you choose which AIDS poems to teach
the commute from Manhattan to Jersey City is a long one
so you cry a lot

You cry in the classroom
as you screen AIDS documentaries and films
it’s a three-hour class
so you cry a lot

You cry on your ride back home
as you read your students’ response papers and essays
you assign something each week
so you cry a lot

Even before the semester begins
as you prepare what to teach
you cry for days

And after the semester ends
as you read the thank-you emails from your students
you cry for hours

And throughout the semester
while you sleep and dream
you cry each night
as you think about what the world would be like
if Paul and Vito were still alive

So this is how you teach AIDS literature
you cry
and you cry
and you cry

Michael_CarosoneMichael Carosone is the editor, with Joseph LoGiudice, of the anthology Our Naked Lives: Essays from Gay Italian American Men (Bordighera Press, 2013). His poems have appeared in Gay City Volume 1, Gay City Volume 2, Gay City Volume 3, Avanti Popolo: Italian-American Writers Sail Beyond Columbus, The Gay and Lesbian Review, Out of Sequence: The Sonnets Remixed, The Good Men Project, Positive Lite, and New Verse News. His essays have appeared in in White Crane, Strangers to These Shores, and various anthologies. His articles have appeared in Gay City News and The Huffington Post. He was awarded the Editors’ Poetry Prize for his work in Gay City Volume 2. He lives in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan with his partner, Joseph LoGiudice. For more information on Michael, please visit michaelcarosone.net.

This poem originally appeared in The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, Vol. 21, Issue 4 (July/August 2014).