NaPoWriMo Poem 2 ± April 2, 2017

Scott Chalupa
Big Roy

How many queens had to help you
overturn and burn that cop cruiser
on the second day of riots? I assumed

you just made it up, and so I never thought
to ask any of those nights when you held court
in the receiving room at Houston’s

Pacifica affiliate. The show was After Hours,
Queer radio with attitude, and you
had shade in spades. You were proof

gay men could live past fifty—some miracle.
You’d prance around the conference table,
rub your Retrovir belly while you recalled

your Stonewall ho-strolling twenties,
then moon over the time you were eight,
having just seen Dino, when you announced

from the back seat of your father’s rattling Ford
that you were going to marry Sal Mineo.
It seems all I do these days is write

about the dead, and I haven’t yet figured how
to write you back into existence. I wish
I’d thought to ask how many girly boys it takes

to set police blue ablaze. I imagine
the cruiser rocking on its crushed roof,
fire pageant-waving from each tire,

you edging the wreckage, Sal on your arm.


Scott Chalupa haunts a marginal attic in Columbia, SC, where he is finishing an MFA at the University of South Carolina. He is winner of the inaugural Graduate Student Creative Writing Award in poetry from the South Atlantic MLA. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in South Atlantic Review, Tupelo Quarterly, tap literary magazine, Jasper, Oxford Comma Review, and other venues.

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Here is today’s prompt

(optional as always)

Write a poem about being at risk for HIV infection in 2017. For some information that might help your poetic process on this topic, check out this page on who is at risk for HIV.