AIDS  Vigil June 1998

AIDS  Vigil June 1998

gentle guitar

weeping somewhere

no need to turn around

no need to see who weeps

it could be an echo

of my own inner moment

the breaking again of the same heart

the loss of another

the loss of a loss of another

one I merely saw

not one I knew

a face a man in the street

a street I walked down

a street he walked down

I saw him frequently

I didn’t know his name

till I saw it here

heard it here

intoned in reverence

another face less in the faceless crowd

I could have seen him

dancing at a disco

working tables at a cafe

my favourite waiter disappeared one week

two weeks

threes weeks

two months later

I heard he was gone


another face removed

at this rate it would really become

a faceless crowd

the rate has slowed these past few years

drug cocktails extending lives

so the flow

ripple of

disappearing faces isn’t so fast

so fast one cannot see them flash past

now the flow is slow enough

to recognized

to miss

I stopped the counting long ago

too may to count

the numbers piled up too quickly

too quickly

too quickly



quickly to number

like tears

falling too fast to wipe away

now the tears fall slower

one can feel them trickling

tickling over cheeks

over flowing the rivers the oceans

raining longer and harder

than we needed it to rain



moaning intoning of names

sounding them off

one after the other

reading them from the memorial

calling them out once more

once year

the saying of the names

various memories coming going

names with out faces

the faces of God

did I know that one

is that the one I know

where are the faces

we need

I need the faces

to know who they are

to know if I knew

to know if they were just

passers-by or parts of a life

parts of a world that gets smaller

that gets bigger

that keeps going growing changing


it does start to rain

near the end of the alphabet

pulling the sky closer to us

pulling God down

to join in the monotone of grief

the roll call of the dead

that gets longer each year

that gets spoken once more

that gets the various monetary gasps

realizations that so-and-so

has also joined the faceless named crowd


At one time it was de rigour that every gay male poet write about the HIV decimation of the queer community. When I hear younger guys bitch about all the old trolls hitting on them I resist pointing out that many of the men of our age group died – but agism & queer desire is another post. So this piece was my response to HIV. I’ve written a few since this one. All come from my time with ACT, as buddy, as home care palliative worker, & a stint assisting a guided mediation & massage group.


This was one of the few Vigils I did attend – they weren’t what I needed for completion or to honour those I’d lost. There didn’t seem to be, for me, a sense of compassion for those who hadn’t lost a family member or lover or a recognition that we were losing a community.


At that time Xtra was printing pictures of those who died in the past few weeks. This is where I saw those faces of guys I knew, yet didn’t know. I realized that this sense of community we were supposed to have as in fact one of geography & not one of contact. We were a people living in the same place who didn’t know each other – like apartment dwellers who only know the guy down the hall but no one on any of the other 20 floors.


As I wrote I indulged some in over emotionalism. I say ‘some’ because in edits I reduced the bathos. I tried to take the reader into the actual moment – the guitar, the rain, the saying of names out loud. I chose not to put in those names because we each have our own lost to remember and name in this way. Feel free to fill in the names of the you have lost.


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy more music – sweet,eh?

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr


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