The Night Thor Brought News of Uncle Bruce's AIDS to Howell Hollow

Poem 19 ±

Thunderous booms stiffened my back
and brought coherence
to my underdeveloped piss brain,
as rapid-fire lightening stalks
lit up the back forty every quarter second
for at least the first half-minute
I glanced out my bedroom window
onto the rolling false Earth.

I stammered out of bed to see
if my grandparents would survive this
catastrophic act,
which, by now has surely claimed the lives
of numerous chickens and cattle.
My soft white heels flattened
warped linoleum with each fluid
skate towards the kitchen, as Thor's
angry storm ceased, prevailing
a bottomless silence,
broken by unbridled weeping. Slowly,
I superseded the doorway plane,
when a crushing reality
bubbled my line of sight,
sobbing grandmother, clinched to telephone receiver,
pillared by my grandfather's
cast iron vulnerability.

Grandpa glanced
me back to my room.
I goose-stepped dispassionately to my bed,
where the universe and I
fell back into sleep,
immediately.

James Langdon is a poet living in Bloomington, Indiana. He writes, "In 1986, my uncle called our sheltered, rural community from San Francisco to reveal that he had AIDS and was in the terminal stages. This was still during the time when AIDS had not been adequately researched, and homosexuality was overall unaccepted, especially in our community. I was a child when my grandparents received the news, but I remember it very vividly. The entire experience, the disease, seemed like a myth so far removed from our safe little community. The impact to our family, however, was very, very real."