HIV Here & Now Poem

by nicolecallihan

My old friend, Michael Broder, is posting a poem a day in a countdown for 35 years of AIDS. He wrote to me recently and asked if I might have a poem for him. Thinking about love and longing and death becomes easier with each passing year, said the middle-aged woman who writes this blog.

The poem is: here.

I’m happy with the poem (yay poems!), but I’m thinking now of how satisfied I was with the editing experience I had with Michael. I had dashed off the poem rather quickly, and before I knew it, I’d sent it to him, and he’d published it. We had a quick back and forth about a few line edits.

Here’s the gist:

Me: Oh, hey, thanks. Can you change “and some more” to just “and”?

Him: Sure.

Me: Ok, great. And the first “gone,” can you change it to “disappeared”?

Him: If I may say so…”gone” is better. It’s nicer rhythmically, it conveys finality more that “disappeared,” and the echo of “gone” at the end is nice. Also, “vanished” in the second couple is two syllables, so it’s nice to have a shorter word in the same position in the previous couplet, so the tension rises (gone, vanished) rather than falls (disappeared, vanished). I’m sorry, that’s the Latinist coming out in me.

But let me know if you insist on disappeared.

Me: Hmm. True. Okay. LOST! Change it to lost! Change the first “gone” to “lost.” I don’t want to have the same word repeated in the poem.

Him: Really? You don’t think the two “gone”s are very effective? I mean, it’s not just lost. It’s really, really, really, GONE. I think the finality of the loss is vast enough to warrant gone twice in the poem. No?

[Cue the violins.]

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