A Note to A Young Man
after Walt Whitman’s Specimen Days
I’ll recall for you nights when the quick passed,
seeping from their wards through thick concrete walls
cold gray like fingers of summer fog
rolling in, spilling over Twin Peaks, spreading through
my emaciated city. I watched the daily disaggregation
of those who should be your faggot grandfathers.
I’m your gift, son, your small window
to what went down.
Don’t make me your Whitman.
I won’t visit hospital tents again, sit on camp stools,
breathe in the stench of gangrene or comfort
a Minnesotan mother, telling her:
he was affectionate, cradled in his canvas cot,
angels untethered his soul.
Jerry Carlin recently moved to Palm Springs from The Pacific Northwest.
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Here is today’s prompt
(optional as always)
For our first prompt we suggested you write a poem about a person who died of AIDS who meant a lot to you. Let’s try something similar but from a different angle. Write about the work of a public figure who died of AIDS or is living with HIV—artist, writer, musician, dancer, choreographer, actor, activist, advocate, even a porn star you admired. Consider bringing an ekphrastic element to your poem, for example by writing about a specific painting by David Wojnarowicz or a specific film with Rock Hudson. Perhaps a poem about Amanda Blake as Kitty Russell on Gunsmoke. For some information that might help your poetic process on this topic, check out this page on public figures with HIV/AIDS.