Na(HIV)PoWriMo ± April 8, 2017

Darius Stewart
“Tests Have Proven This Is Not a False Positive”

in this diagnosis we don’t name names
he is he & she is she      period              do not disturb

the status quo  he is a person of color             so is she
we all are some shade of off-white

if not it’s best not to incite confusion
suggesting that options for race or ethnicity matter

that reasons to have Hispanic / non-Hispanic
as option on medical forms matters    in fact

there are no options for categorical characteristics that matter
including religious beliefs        sexual orientation

etcetera should be the only given box available
anything otherwise is a private affiliation

best kept tight-lipped   as in mother’s maiden name
make & model of first car       date we lost our virginity

breed of favorite pet    probable city to be exiled
in other words what we use to establish

password protection    secure tax information
bank balances              any interior knowledge

to bring comfort so we can rest easy at night
in light of aforementioned diagnosis

we must use in order to survive the future
point blank     period


Darius Stewart is author of The Terribly Beautiful (Main Street Rag, 2006) and Sotto Voce (Main Street Rag 2008), each an Editor’s Choice Selection, and The Ghost the Night Becomes (2014), winner of the 2013 Gertrude Press Poetry Chapbook Competition. His work has appeared in Appalachian Heritage, Callaloo, Meridian, Chelsea Station Magazine, and the Good Men Project, among others. He holds an MFA from the Michener Center for Writers, where he was a James A. Michener Fellow in poetry. He presently tends bar at an award-winning seafood house in Knoxville, TN, where he lives somewhat comfortably with his dog, Fry. In Fall 2017, he will begin the MFA program in Creative Nonfiction at the University of Iowa.


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Here is today’s prompt

(optional as always)

Write a poem about “viral load” (the amount of HIV in a sample of blood). Consider the lived reality and poetic potential in terms like “undetectable” and “viral suppression.” Work with these concepts either from your actual first-person perspective, the perspective of a first-person persona, or in the second or third person. For some information that might help your poetic process on this topic, check out this page on viral load.