Silent Footage: Keith Haring Dances with Basquiat
It’s twilight and I’m thinking of you. A bell rings
which tells me it is time to take my meds.
I’ve learned to like the little pink ones,
valentines to my blood.
Darling you thrill me.
These pills I swallow are politicians, all promise
to keep me alive, though I’m not sure they’re working.
Since I have come to love you,
that turns me into a believer.
Secretly, I’ve been saving a stash
when the government
cuts us off—
I promise to offer mine first.
Today I covered all the mirrors,
not wanting to see
my future staring back.
I always get lost in this joke,
the one where I am sitting on your bed
naked and completely cured and
for a time, we don’t worry
about policy or punishment or our dis-ease,
just my wish to be painted up
like something they won’t forget.
A masterpiece living forever,
a name you think of in every color.
We met in spring colder than usual
A sun melted in our mouth
The earth felt different after
You caressed my bush
I counted every freckle located on you
There were dinners with friends
Polaroids later stained with coffee
That winter, my body broke
You carried me to bed
Before you, no one had done that
You drove me to the clinic
I walked out of the lobby into a new life
It came with a different type of instructions
We took the medicine together, powder pink
We kissed as it went down, eyes open
That was a long time ago
We were different people then
Time is not a circle
Time is a vase we hang onto
While seasons pass through us
In bed you hold me down,
scent of sex outside
and the ash cloud raining.
I love the word bed
because it looks like one.
I love your name
because it looks like you
messy gorgeous lonely oh,
who says we haven’t met before
on a hillside of mustard and lilacs
or a dark room with men
pulling us to our feet.
Our sadness travels
through the baritone of my belly
to the deep end of the docks
to the last leaf on a long stem
plucked from this ground.
Your hands find their way
to my openings as I caress
your immaculate ear.
Our time anywhere
is a door half open
a grave we are always digging
for the lovers dying between us.
*"Space Invaders" was first published in issue 12 of Bending Genres.
A 2019 PEN America Emerging Voices Fellow, Dare Williams (he/him) is a Queer HIV-positive poet, artist, rooted in Southern California. His work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net and Best American Poets 2021, has been anthologized in Redshift 5 by Arroyo Secco Press and is featured in THRUSH, Night Heron Barks, Exposition Review and The Shore and is forthcoming in The Altadena Review. He is at work on his debut poetry collection