Roger Ian Rosen
Bloody Fingerprints on an Innocent
Is it true that I still crane my neck,
Try to be noticed,
Try for some form of acknowledgement
At the mere sight of a gay man woman trans couple queer family bi nonbinary.
Yes, me too. Me too, I cry out in glances.
I’m here. We’re here. Together. I see you. Do you see me?
Growing up under the Reagan regime,
Listening to them
Decry my life not worth living,
Pounding pounding pounding away at their daily message:
My life worth death. Painful and alone and tossed
Both fickly and purposefully into heaps of other garbage.
Deserving of all ills real and imagined, figurative and
A slow dawning as the door of normal slammed in my face
In the mirror one horrifying morning.
Oh, look. A faggot.
Me. Faggot. Death. Deserving. Me. Alone. Abomination. Me.
Disease itself. Me.
Pouring into me, through me, souring.
This host beautifully hospitable, giving the disease of condemnation a fertile ground to
Infect and cancer.
I had no choice—knew nothing else. There were no options of knowledge.
But I found them. Hungry and sick and
Desperate for a cure, I found them.
They were chemo, AZT. I ingested word after word,
Idea after idea, rant after rant.
Seeking an unlearning of things I didn’t know I’d learned.
Unconscious acceptance of the never questioned. I got high
On their questions. And strong. Each thought a piece I could
Pick up and glue back with glitter and lavender glue.
So much has faded, allowing the pulsing
Rage of still unanswered questions to flow and bloom in semi-automatic words that
Rapid-fire from these lips.
But so much remains.
Because I know it’s weird that after all this time
I still crane my neck to notice and to be noticed noticing.
You too? Yeah, you too. Me too, too.
But it is me now.
And I hold it close, lest I forget
Where I come from and who made me me,
Whose inhumanity stared back at me in that mirror.
Who stuck their thumbs into my still wet cement and left
Their bloody fingerprints on an innocent.
Roger Ian Rosen writes so that his husband might ever experience silence. He is author of Backdoor Bingo (a melding of gay pulp fiction and over-the-top camp, sex, and silliness…with audience participation!), which continues to unfurl on social media #backdoorbingo (_roger0nimo_ on Instagram and @Rogeronimo_com on Twitter) even as we speak. Roger is currently working towards an MFA in interdisciplinary arts at Goddard College in Vermont. (Editor’s note: I could not help myself from posting a link to this video of Roger at work/play.)
Join our mailing list to receive news, updates, and special offers from Indolent Books, the publisher of HIV Here & Now.