Poems by Joan Larkin

Want

Inventory

Fawn Before Doe Season

 



Inventory

One who lifted his arms with joy, first time across the finish line
ppp at the New York marathon, six months later a skeleton
ppp falling from threshold to threshold, shit streaming from
ppp his diaper,
one who walked with a stick, wore a well-cut suit to the opera,
ppp to poetry readings, to mass, who wrote the best long poem
ppp of his life at Roosevelt Hospital and read it on television,
one who went to 35 funerals in 12 months,
one who said I'm sick of all you AIDS widows,
one who lost both her sisters,
one who said I'm not sure that what he and I do is safe, but we're
ppp young, I don't think we'll get sick
,
one who dying said They came for me in their boat, they want me
ppp on it, and I told them Not tonight, I'm staying here with James,

one who went to Mexico for Laetrile,
one who went to California for Compound Q,
one who went to Germany for extract of Venus' flytrap,
one who went to France for humane treatment,
one who chanted, holding hands in a circle,
one who ate vegetables, who looked in a mirror and said
ppp I forgive you,
one who refused to see his mother,
one who refused to speak to his brother,
one who refused to let a priest enter his room,
one who did the best paintings of his life and went home from
ppp his opening in a taxi with twenty kinds of flowers,
one who moved to San Francisco and lived two more years,
one who married his lover and died next day,
one who said I'm entirely filled with anger,
one who said I don't have AIDS, I have something else,
one with night sweats, nausea, fever, who worked as a nurse,
one who kept on studying to be a priest,
one who kept on photographing famous women,
one who kept on writing vicious reviews,
one who kept going to AA meetings till he couldn't walk,
one whose son came just once to the hospital,
one whose mother said This is God's judgment,
one whose father held him when he was frightened,
one whose minister said Beth and her lover of twelve years were
ppp devoted as Ruth and Naomi
,
one whose clothes were thrown in the street, beautiful and
ppp ties a neighbor picked from the garbage and handed out at
ppp a party,
one who said This room is a fucking prison,
one who said They're so nice to me here,
one who cut my hair and said My legs bother me,
one who couldn't stand, who said I like those earrings,
one with a tube in his chest, who asked What are you eating?
one who said How's your writing? Are you moving to the
mountains?
who said I hope you get rich.
One who said Death is Transition,
one who was doing new work, entirely filled with anger,
one who wanted to live till his birthday, and did.


From COLD RIVER (Painted Leaf Press, 1997)