STUNNING collection. STUNNING.
I call them creatures in the cave. Every now and then, they emerge to stare at us. They are the dead. I cannot escape them. Even if I leave the house. The voices just above a whisper smiling while the moments, too, kill us gently and infinitely.
Larry Kramer has been the person who has pushed me, and pushed me, and pushed me hard. Sometimes right over a cliff. He has said it and said it and said it.
“I don’t see how any writer affected by all the dying can write anything without mentioning this.”
People ask me why I work with these boys. I am always frozen to hear it articulated. How could you ask me that. I thought it would be obvious. Their eyesquite shutquite ro slitsquite bright going and it is so cold.
Because it keeps me alive.
And we are tired of your rants regarding AIDS. They say. They say it everywhere.
I am amazed at all the talent packed into the Medium. But I do not write for you.
It has a face for me. I write for them. They sneak off with the iPads and yellowed broken teeth, and they read this shit. I might articulate something of which I am not a party to, but I am a party to this.
Thing is, they too are the creatures from the cave.
They are still hiding there. They will emerge only kissing you with death.
The funerals are less attended now. There are so many people saying: I can’t go to one more funeral, enough.”
I am one of them.
There is an alternative. To me.
I dig graves.
This is the Appalachia, and I assure you, we see family in very graphic terms. We see it so hard, there is, often, war.
Appalachia STLL has not come to terms with HIV. New infections are on the rise. This is not new, and it is not news.
Churches still ban people, it’s called shunning, and human beings have brains that have evolved from cooperating with other human beings. Religion in Appalachia has to exist with diaspora because young people are less inclined to live here. Even if it is cheap. Cheap is relative.
How do you miss sex ed if you are not in school and how can you be a school who does not offer sex ed to anyone anyway because people would all be fired the next day and have to go back to digging coal.
If you put people in the cave, any place where their brain registers that you are alone, stress hormones put pressure on the evolutionary fight or flight syndrome syndrome syndrome, where people have to up their game now that they are alone because people who are alone are eaten. Hominin clade creatures that we would recognize have only been here about 50,000 years. Their evolutionary ancestors, another 50,000. Beyond that, a million. Beyond that, bones.
We have evolved, and it doesn’t really matter to evolution what religion might have to say. And. So. Adapt or die, Mr. Bones.
Some of us, like myself, only learn the hard way.
The boys I work with are scared. They are taking note of what it means to survive HIV.
It’s not just a pill to them. It can still be up to fifteen a day. Easily.
Because HIV, also an evolutionary organism, and it was probably here, way, way before we called it HIV, and it was also probably a factor in past pandemics. A harmony within itself.
But this is the first time a pandemic has so affected marginalized populations of homo sapien sapiens who have created a global cave (I did not say village) that, like the brain, is lit up with the serotonin that is a positive reinforcement translated into behavior including but not limited to sexual behavior which like any other behavior, defines reproduction in the cave.
I have worked with the children of the cave for a very long while. Writing and taking photographs are my one relief. It’s very intense, but it’s intense around communication. I am an idiot and ephemeral. What they are learning is what they have always been in hot pursuit chasing the proverbial dragon’s tail, and not always pushing forward.
Pushing forward means things they have always ran from like learning how to read. Pushing forward means learning how to be kind to an animal. Pushing forward means how do you learn to read and manage and operate a complex camera, duh.
Many of them have migrated from Atlanta. San Francisco, has just sucked them up. Anyone who endures a diaspora, and moves demographics and geography around will define immigration, and sex work is just another world in which to survive in.
You dig and you dig and you shove that shovel into the shut teeth earth and you sweat with it and you are pissed off. You sweat it out. It doesn’t matter how cold it gets. Even in the snow you chop chop away.
Small towns, hovels mainly, allow relatives to dig graves because so many families are too poor to receive a bill over a dug grave they could dig themselves. You see entire families out there who take turns with the shovel. The goodbyes mean a physical ache,, subdued with the carving sword of the executioner. The cave is a crumbling of the plaster.
I can’t tell you how education works. It’s not my field. I know how behavior works. Beyond behavior is the imprisonment with the Others I do not do well.
Dead people are the pick axe and the engineer. I dig. I do not attend. Lately, the lingering spider has been a meth epidemic that is, indeed, not unlike the pandemic in the undeveloped world.
At some point, it will begin to seep into the collective consciousness that there is something in it for the developed world to have the undeveloped world part of the diaspora that puts more medical recourses to the have nots.
You will find the have nots toward the back of the cave. How is it that they are eaten first. Something sneaks up from the far back, unseen caverns of the cave try it and see church and some dynamite and whoever’s god and his five point plan. We are all mostly out of date. This is metaphor. I am being read by people who are unlike me. We do not share the same values. But I am locked up tight in my cage, and am no threat to you. I’m just a writer. and this is all. Metaphors as spit balls. That is it.
It was like an ancient blood bath. No one with two cents in them says we think in ruins. I do. I am the naked jester in the gunfire groan of a statue’s song. A fool of construction.
And I do not believe there will be a cure.
It is a minority opinion.
But there is another singing. We are not a choir. We have not signed the five year plan.
Splendid and chaotic heaps. We believe there is no plan. We believe there is a long burning of the flesh in the ribbons of steel and assuming the black carrion of the gates. I cannot escape them.
And either can you.
I am writing for the dead and the not dead yet. I am only hopeful that there is another telling in the evil of the news.