Poem 306 ± April 5, 2016

Dustin Brookshire
HIV Barbie

Mattel never placed her in circulation.
Barbie doesn’t understand why Cuba & Belize
require HIV testing for visitors staying
more than 90 days. Being older
than 15, even though she doesn’t look it,
she would have to submit to testing
in Australia. Barbie gripes to Ken:
Who wants to go to Cuba?
Belize! Well, what do they have to offer?
And who cares about Sydney
and that damned Skywalk?

Barbie can’t comprehend the fuss.
She has no worries of bleeding cuts
or scrapes or sharing needles.
(Just say no to drugs, Barbie shrugs.)
Barbie doesn’t even have blood
nor openings for necessity or pleasure.
No orifice means none—ask Ken,
the fact often makes him blue.

With her box comes an information sheet
dispelling myths of how HIV is transmitted:
You may safely share a cup with Barbie.
You may safely wipe away her tears.
Meds will not be needed,
which makes Barbie wipe her forehead.
How would she take the pills anyway?

She sits tucked away deep within a Mattel closet.
Infectious Disease Doctor Ken takes care of her,
even though her body will never age,
never having to worry about blood work every three months,
or having to tell friends, family, and fans she’s infected.
They’d only want to know how she managed to contract HIV.


Dustin BrookshireDustin Brookshire is a poet and activist living in Charleston, SC. His work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and appeared in Whiskey Island, Assaracus, OCHO, Oranges & Sardines, Shape of Box and other publications. Dustin is the author of To The One Who Raped Me (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2012). Find him online at dustinbrookshire.com.

This poem appeared in Assaracus.