Na(HIV)PoWriMo ± April 21, 2017

David Groff

We made a list of every state
we each had sex in. You won
with 31, delighted: summer stock.
Fifty now and dead, you reappear
made up at Community Café Stage
in Quarryville in performances
of You Can’t Take It with You,
the owner’s son, the suitor,
keen for xylophones and fireworks,
puppyish, blond again, the shot at sex
an encore in eyes I almost know.
On the barn of stage a shooting star,
you strut like a Saturday out of town.
My applause enfolds you like the shroud
Ophelia wore, or Mercutio.


David Groff is the author of Clay (Trio House, 2013) and Theory of Devolution (Illinois, 2002), selected by Mark Doty for the National Poetry Series and a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry and the Thom Gunn Award from the Publishing Triangle. With Jim Elledge he coedited Who’s Yer Daddy?: Gay Writers Celebrate Their Mentors and Forerunners (University of Wisconsin, 2012). With Philip Clark he coedited Persistent Voices: Poetry by Writers Lost to AIDS (Alyson, 2010). With Richard Berman he coedited Whitman’s Men: Walt Whitman’s Calamus Poems Celebrated by Contemporary Photographers (Universe, 1996). He completed the book The Crisis of Desire: AIDS and the Fate of Gay Brotherhood for its author, the late Robin Hardy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1999; Univ Of Minnesota Press, 2002). David’s poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. He teaches in the MFA creative writing program of the City College of New York.

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Here is today’s prompt

(optional as always)

In honor of today’s poet, write a poem that CELEBRATES the life of someone who died of AIDS, rather than a lament. Of course, there’s always that tension in elegy between celebration and lament, but in our experience here at HH&N, we find that lament tends to win out when many poets write about loved ones lost to AIDS. Resist! Resist that impulse to wallow in grief. Of course we grieve! But do we love our loved ones because they tied a sad and tragic death, or because they lived a joyous and creative life? But first and foremost—be a poet!

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