Crossing Press, 1995
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Poems, stories, and essays by more than 70 writers pay tribute to loved ones lost to AIDS. Writers include Maureen Brady, Jewelle Gomez, Jane Futcher, and Felice Picano. The combination of writing and photographs makes this collection especially poignant.
October 20, 1993
Happy birthday, baby.
Did they throw a big party for you
Were there lavender balloons everywhere
and white roses in tall crystal vases
and a big chocolate cake
with thirty-four candles glowing in your eyes?
Was there a chorus of pretty boys
singing happy birthday to you,
their arms outstretched
wine glasses held high,
your amber reflection in each one?
Was there laughing and dancing
and drinking and cruising?
Did you pick one special boy
to celebrate with
or were there many?
Two years ago you told me you were dying
to have sex.
“At least I won’t need rubbers
in the afterlife,” you said,
no bitterness left in your tired voice.
Oh baby, there are no condoms in heaven.
There are no hospital beds, wheelchairs,
or catheters in heaven.
There is no AZT, DDI, KS, or PCP in heaven.
Only all those pretty pretty boys like you
who went through hell to get there.
“This is a difficult book to read in one sitting, yet it must somehow be read. Seventy-seven writers (some well known, some not) contributed these essays and poems as tributes to friends, lovers, spouses, colleagues, and children who have died from AIDS. They are intimate and sometimes funny and also terrifyingly graphic in detail about the lives and deaths of ordinary people?who were extraordinary to those who loved them. This work will make readers reexamine their ideas on living and dying. Newman states: ‘Editing this book reminded me that anyone can contract HIV and develop AIDS, and anyone who does is not guilty of anything, except perhaps one thing: being a human being.’ Recommended for all types of libraries.”