A Poem for World AIDS Day 2014: Do You Remember


DrHerukhuti - Lambda 2014 ReceptionBy Dr. Herukhuti

Originally published in Conjuring Black Funk: Notes on Culture, Sexuality and Spirituality, Volume 1

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Do You Remember by Herukhuti

do you remember

what they told us

they told us

“you are having sex with everyone he ever had sex with”

and you wondered why

the sex didn’t feel better

last longer

with all these other motherfuckers

in the picture

do you remember

do you remember

do you remember

what they told us

what they told us

what they told us

they told us

“the consistent and proper use of a condom

drastically reduces your risk

of HIV infection”

a latex sleeve reduced

our sexual risk

while we could be

jailed for the sex

we were having

our sex was pathologized, demonized, ostracized

our sex was filled

with self-hatred, guilt, shame

objectification, envy, and rage

they called that safe

how the fuck is a condom

going to protect you from

a nigga that hates himself

and hates you for loving him

how’s a condom going to

protect you from wanting

that motherfucker’s dick

up in you in the first place

do you remember

do you remember

do you remember

what they told us

what they told us

what they told us

they told us

“HIV is the virus that causes AIDS”

yet they had no causes

only correlates

they made the AIDS definition

and infected HIV with it

then said HIV causes AIDS

what about the cause of HIV

where’d that come from

why did it come at that time

did they tell you

green monkeys, africans, haitians were targeted

but did you find the answers

where are the answers now

do you remember

do you remember

do you remember

what they told us

what they told us

what they told us

they told us

“AIDS is the leading cause of death among… ”

AIDS is leading the cause of death

like Martin Luther King or Farrakhan

leading marches on Washington

like Caesar Chavez

working for economic social justice in the fields

like Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman

working for women’s rights and human rights

like complex Angela D

struggling against the prison industry

AIDS is a freedom fighter leading the cause of death

do you remember

do you remember

do you remember

what they told us

what they told us

what they told us

they told us

“AIDS equals Death”

and thousands of people

who passed third grade math

prepared to die

so many people got ready

to die of AIDS

there wasn’t enough

preparation to live with HIV

T cells got higher viewer ratings

than the Cosby Show and Cheers combined

T cells went up and down

more than park trade

on a dick at 2 am in the morning

do you remember

do you remember

do you remember

what they told us

what they told us

what they told us

they told us

“only immediate family may be present”

and we were discarded

along with precious pieces of people

we loved

as family cared for as family

when family was neither

immediate nor familial

do you remember

do you remember

do you remember

what they told us

what they told us

what they told us

they told us

“he has 3-6 months to live”

and they tried to get us

to stuff a life

into the container of

one moment

one action

do you remember

do you remember

do you remember

what they told us

what they told us

what they told us

they told us

“here are your test results”

and we were scared shitless

because there was that one time

I knew I shouldn’t but

that nigga had me open

and he looked ok

he was clean

didn’t have any

cuts, bruises, open sores, swollen nodes or glands,

scaly skin, drawn cheeks,

blotchy spots, really low muscle mass

do you remember

do you remember

do you remember

what they told us

what they told us

what they told us

they told us

“your test came back positive”

and life stopped

and started again

all our worst fears became true

we wept

on our knees on the floor

in a fetal position

knees pressed

against our beating hearts

But we lived

and we died

But we lived

and we died

But we lived

and we died

do you remember

what they told us

what they told us

what they told us

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