ON WORLD AIDS DAY 2019


While I was in my death cleaning mode I found a copy of this poem I had printed out from Garrison Keillor’s “The Writers’ Almanac” from National Public Radio (NPR ).   It  was dated Saturday, December 27, 2003.  It seems appropriate for this World AIDS Day 2019.  Funerals can unite us.

1989
by Ron Koertge

Because AIDS was slaughtering people left and right,
      I went to a lot of memorial services that year.
There were so many, I’d pencil them in between
      a movie or a sale at Macy’s. The other thing that
made them tolerable was the funny stories people
      got up and told about the deceased: the time he
hurled a mushroom fritata across a crowded room,
      those green huraches he refused to throw away,
the joke about the flight attendant and the banana
      that cracked him up every time.

But this funeral was for a blind friend of my wife’s
      who’d merely died. And the interesting thing
about it was the guide dogs; with all the harness
      and the sniffing around, the vestibule of the church
looked like the starting line of the Iditarod. But
      nobody got up to talk. We just sat there,
and the pastor read the King James version. Then he
      said someday we would see Robert and he us.

Throughout the service, the dogs slumped beside their
      masters. But when the soloist stood and launched
into a screechy rendition of “Abide With Me,” they sank
      into the carpet. A few put their paws over their ears.
Someone whispered to one of the blind guys; he told
      another, and the laughter started to spread. People
in the back looked around, startled and embarrassed,
      until they spotted all those chunky Labradors
flattened out like animals in a cartoon about
      steamrollers. Then they started, too.

That was more like it. That was what I was used to-
      a roomful of people laughing and crying, taking off
their sunglasses to blot their inconsolable eyes.

17 thoughts on “ON WORLD AIDS DAY 2019

    • Yes, no one can read poetry like him! I miss hearing him on NPR but there is still poetry on NPR in the morning every day. It is called “The Slowdown with Tracy K. Smith” She is a poet and does a good job of commenting and reading the poetry of others.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. A wonderful post for WORLD AIDS DAY. My own brother died in the 80’s of AIDS related causes. He was a wonderful man and there were so many that came to his funeral at which I spoke. The services were held in a funeral home in San Francisco where he lived most of his adult life. Thanks again for the post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rene, I am so sorry for you loss but glad you were able to speak at his service and meet some of his friends. The 80’s were a dark period for many young men who were abandoned by family. My son lost several of his friends – they became our friends too – to AIDS. We should always remember! Thank you for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you liked it too! A little rumor goes a long way even facing death. I loved imaging the dogs with paws over their ears too. And it was written with such a subtle was that it too me by surprise. Thanks for taking time to read and comment!

      Liked by 1 person

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