Poem to My Boyfriend’s Immunodeficiency Virus


Poem to My Boyfriend’s Immunodeficiency Virus

by Chip Livingston

you are not related to the bowerbird
nor crow nor any bird noted for magnificent plumage
you are not paradisaea apoda, not paradise minor
the king you are not
you are not a place where you can hear live jazz
seven days a week
you are not an island native

you are a shy bloomer
with neither petal nor sepal
not tough, not easily grown
not tolerant of his soil

you are not a family resort
dedicated to making a truly pleasurable vacation
not prized for dramatic display
you are not a charming villa
located on the hillside of bordeaux
you are not a small bird very near the beach

you are not a must
you are not fast growing
you are not a boat

you are forgotten, sterile
not licensed or insured
to cater our parties
you are not more of a bush not even a seed
you are not wild and free
you are not the cinematic equivalent
of one of those island falls

you are closed until further notice
you are not poised to soar
to heights in joyful praise
you are not driving ma crazy
not the scene for the morning breakfast buffet
you are not easily seen from a treetop
you are not reliably evergreen


Chip Livingston is the author of the story collection, NAMING CEREMONY (Lethe Press, 2014), and two collections of poetry, CROW-BLUE, CROW-BLACK (NYQ Books, 2012) and MUSEUM OF FALSE STARTS (Gival Press, 2010). His poems have appeared in Ploughshares, New American Writing, Court Green, Mississippi Review, and on the Poetry Foundation website. Chip teaches creative writing in the low-rez MFA program at Institute of American Indian Arts. Visit his website at www.chiplivingston.com. (The above poem initially appeared in Art and Understanding, is included in CROW-BLUE, CROW-BLACK, and is reprinted here with permission of the author.)

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