28 September 2009


Michael Kearns has finally published his historic tome 'The Drama of AIDS: My Lasting Connections with Two Plays that Survived the Plague'. This poem to celebrate that, and to remember all my brothers who were lost.

It is ostensibly about Katharine Hepburn.

I’ll let you into a secret. I’m not a fan
of the pricks that ask for a hymn or a
gin-bottle memory of me and my African
man so I drive about booted up like a
soldier, head up and my chin out like
a hunting rifle
foot on the gas
and a whisper so the crowds don’t
part: fill her up, please, spat out in tiny
Kate, Kate,
Calm the voice, tone it down or
you’ll hitch that hick on your knife-
sharp suit; this fruitcake’s got me doing
a Hepburn high kick but like I told him I’m
just passing through. Clatter Kate he called
me, stilting tower-high down Sunset in his
textbook memory with my stilettos
weren’t stilettos kid but knives on the soles
of my feet to deal with the wives.
What a
schmuck.) I’m your biggest fan; here we go
again, just pour me the damn juice. I’m
an ass - and this cut-out moose for an attendant?
He wobbled like a set-piece and clocked me
feather-thin which is all
I can muster these days.
I’m old.
He’s all slick with grease-monkey gumption
and a pot of gold and a box-set and in debt
to my career so I told him:
Buster, stick to the pumps.
I could have pushed him over with my pinkie

and when the sky came down like a fist
the winded revelation went something like
this: you ain’t got more smarts than me Miss
Hoity-Toity so get off my ass
Damn, boy’s a
pro. But if I’m not good to go in five seconds
I’m finding a cop
and he laughed a big meaty laugh, I said get off my
ass Miss Kate
and I had to laugh too,
jazz-bop and
bamboo-lined booths and the grooves with me in my
uptight fishnets and a cigarette on a stick with
Mister Tracey fug-bound,
mouthing something quick.
Those were the days.
I have a life kid, so fill me up
then I’m highway-hugging ‘til I hear singing.

Spencer, oh how the boy talked of Spencer,
queer little pump kid with Hollywood’s back bars
and fast cars and an old film-star in his
forecourt, filling me in and sucking up the fame:
an addled dame and a boy with an eyeful
on her angles.
I’m getting tired

Every kid’s got a Tracey in their soul, a Tracey-
sized hole that makes them drive a state or two
to fill it up.
That’s on the house, not like you deserve it but
like I say
and he turns away too quickly.
I can hear the smoky sounds of a faraway
jazz night, boy, but I won’t tell you
that, right? Better put up a fight and like I said I’m
only passing through.
Thanks kid. I shove on the old Hepburn
grimace: nice pumps, shame about the face.

Gas, AFG

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