Wednesday, 5 February 2014

No Stigma for HIV/AIDS or Human Nature, Mixed Messages

'When we walk away from global warming, Kyoto, when we are irresponsibly slow in moving toward AIDS in Africa, when we don't advance and live up to our own rhetoric and standards, we set a terrible message of duplicity and hypocrisy.' John F. Kerry]

This poem first appeared on the blog in 2009 and has since been requested by ‘Moira’ and ‘Simon K’ whose respective partners died of HIV-related infections.

Regular readers will know that I feel very privileged to have once been asked to write a poem (also on the blog) for DAMSET, an AIDS Educational Trust; thanks to the dedication and tireless efforts of those involved, the Trust has been responsible for creating a memorial mural in Bournemouth (near the pier entrance) to people who have died of AIDS across Dorset. Many of the tiles were designed by schoolchildren and I think it is wonderful (and not before time) that something so practical, imaginative, and sensitive has been created to promote HIV-AIDS Awareness. For years, tourists as well as local people will get the message while enjoying the tribute at the same time.

For more about DAMSET:

I feel especially privileged that my poem - Autobiography of a Beach - has been included in the mural. ( See also: )


A neighbour had AIDS, and that’s why
some people speak of him
as if he were a dog that caught rabies
and had to be put down

He was a good man, some people say,
often whispering in my ear
(as if loath to confide a great sin)
that he was gay

He was a kind man, some people seem
anxious I should believe, as if
making reparation of the kind worn
on a perfectly ironed sleeve

He was an honest man, various people
are quick to cry as if
on the defensive after being caught out
in a well-honed lie

He was a lovable man, and had AIDS
although some people
won’t say that, as if in denial of a word
that deserves they get it right

A good, kind, honest, lovable man dies
of AIDS, and some people
(still) blame it on gay men as if they
have a monopoly on promiscuity

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012; 2014

[Note: A slightly different version of this poem first appeared in CCandD magazine v 212, Scars Publications (USA) 2010 and subsequently in 1st eds. of Tracking the Torchbearer by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2012; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

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