Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Arts.Advocacy+Wellness: "WORLD AIDS DAY...Awareness, Remembrance, & Celebration"

Awareness, Remembrance, & Celebration

What if...what next...what about mom...the do I move forward? Is there "Life After" the diagnosis? The questions I had before taking my HIV test and receiving an HIV positive diagnosis. I personally feel testing is important and needed and my hope is that along with testing we begin to hear and see more stories in mainstream media about "Life After" the diagnosis...whether you test positive or negative...How does one live more safe, more productive, and more loving after the diagnosis. Today I pause to celebrate the lives infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. May we celebrate the lives lost and lives still living.

As part of my "Life After" statement, I share with you a few selections of poetry and dialogue that I wrote which helped me deal on a day-to-day basis living with HIV and Living Out Loud.

Momma Said…(A Hard Life)

A hard life

I’m an artist

“That’s a hard life,” she would say.

I’m black

I’m gay

“Baby, that’s a hard life.”

A hard life

Momma couldn’t foresee that

I’d get HIV. I did.

Momma never ran away.

She prayed

She supported her baby all the way

She stayed

We prayed.

A hard life

I’m still here today

A hard life

But I can’t imagine my life any other way.

Yeah…it is a hard life…Challenging more so.

Still, I can’t say that I chose to be this way.

These are the cards that have been dealt to me

And I choose to accept them

I choose to accept the gifts, that some may say are pretty heavy.

“It’s a hard life,” momma would say,

“but baby, you are very brave and don’t let anyone take that away.”

©2005 Cornelius Jones Jr.


Could have been gone

When I went to the river on my own.

Could have been gone

But I’m still here.

Could have been gone

When that train came flying down the track.

Could have been gone

But I’m still here

Could have been gone

When we were hit by a truck full of steel.

Could have been gone

But I’m still here.

Could have been gone

If I decided to fight back.

Could have been gone

But I’m still here.

Could have been gone

When I fell asleep behind the wheel.

Could have been gone

But I’m still here.

Could have been gone

Had I chose to live in fear.

Not knowing my status,

Would I still be here?

Think about the tragic stories

You hear on the news.

Think of your life

And the roads you choose.

Think about the information

that can help us live.

Then about the people

who chose to live in fear.

Some may say, “It’s life

things just happen this way.”

But I’m here to tell you


On this awesome and beautiful day.

©2005 Cornelius Jones Jr.


(a fragment of memories extracted and inserted

exploring fatherly/brotherly love and affinity

and also an excerpt from the performance piece HomoAffection)

by Cornelius Jones Jr.



I remember going with you to Chesapeake Bay and I saw my first farm raised fish pond. I think there were salmon

swimming in there. I remember when the boat came in and you, your fishermen friends, and Uncle John unloaded the

wild caught fish: lake trout, shad, bass, and even live crabs. I remember a group of black men and white men

laughing together knowing that this was a good catch and you all would be racking in the dollars. I remember this in

Virginia. I remember when I made momma cry ‘cause she looked at the calendar we always kept in the kitchen to

remind us of important appointments and I think momma was going to t he calendar to be reminded of her dentist

appointment and saw marked on the calendar: June 21st, Dad comes home. I remember this was the day you came

home from being hospitalized with pneumonia for over a month. I remember. I remember. I remember when you

starred on the 6’oclock news…Something you tuned into daily, in our living room, but this day you were not home,

you were in jail and you headlined the news that entire evening…In handcuffs they had you and tucked your head


the police car ‘cause you sold illegal dear meat. I remember being so angry…so confused. I remember.

I remember loving Kraft American cheese. I remember the individual wrappers. I remember going through 5-7 slices a

day for 2 weeks straight, and you warned, “That cheese is gonna bind you up,” and I remember thinking you didn’t

know what you were talking about and I kept eating my American cheese, and two weeks later, I learned my lesson.

My bowels couldn’t pass through, and you had to buy me prune juice, which was so gross. I couldn’t stomach it, so

you mixed it in with some coke and day later you stood by my side as I screamed in the bathroom like a pregnant

woman giving birth (as I would imagine momma giving birth to my hard-headed self). It finally passed through. You

grinned and I said, “Yeah, I learned my lesson.” I remember.

I remember you trying to get your strength back, testing what life had left. I remember you trying so hard. I remember.

I remember you lying in bed. I remember communicating through raised and lowered hands and blinks of the eye and

movements of the lip. I remember your last nod…your last smile. The look of joy that you were completing your last

lap…finally you could float with no support. I remember.


I remember warm lips and green eyes. I remember your skin pressed against mine. I remember thinking finally I got

you. I remember trying to remember you. Wondering how you would look if you were still here. I remember being

called your little brother and that made me feel like 100%. I remember missing that you were not here. I remember

feeling complete. Feeling that no one else was as beautiful as you. I remember growing of age and no longer was I in

that little brother stage. I remember re-arranging a song for you - the melody of Brian McKight’s “I Remember You,”

and how I always think about you. I remember loving the fact that you were much older than me…I found that very

sexy and it didn’t frighten me. Being in love with you – I wanted to learn more from you. Not once did I feel that


be too much for you as I remember being one body occupying the same space. I remember being afraid when


took me away. After you left I remember holding on to our passionate nights…the memories of our



felt completely right. I can still feel you with me though physically you’ve transitioned to that next

life. The warmth of

our lovemaking permeated my soul, and I remember not being capable of letting that go. I

remember cooking dinner,

caring for the dog, welcome home kisses, weekend rides, surprise gifts, standing together

arm in arm as warm water

flowed over our heads and down to our toes. I’m remembering the memories of not having

you here…gone for over


years…and in between the space I still feel you.


I remember the day we first met, trying to figure out, which way we were “bent”

Negotiating what is wrong and right, and if we were actually heaven sent

But we kept moving on, figuring out this life with each other

Brother oh Brother, I remember you Brother.

I remember young souls, fragile bodies, ripe eyes, curious minds, and chocolate thighs.

I remember rendezvous in dim lit parks, wondering if we’ll ever find the “thick one”

But truthfully searching for that brother Who could rescue us from the dark…

That darkness has taken so many of us – 1 by 1.

Brother oh Brother, I remember you Brother.

I remember getting lost in the trance Pop, dipping, and spinning on the dance floor

Sandwiched between brown bodies, sweaty bodies, tight bodies

Could we ask for anything more?

I remember your admiration for Victoria Snow – Mother and Queen of the drag pageants and drag shows.

How we would create our own house pageants –toilet tissue, tinsel, bedroom sheets, lampshades Damn…we were

some silly gays…and those were the days. Ms. Newcomer, Ms. Continental, Ms. Gay Black USA wannabe

And you up in drag…Girl that was some “tea!”

Brother oh Brother, I hear you Brother

Sometimes at night, the sight haunts me

When I remember the days you could barely move – the sickness seeping through

As I lie with knees to chest grappling in my fate too.

Death is inevitable – we’ll see each other soon

Brother oh Brother, I remember you Brother

I want to hug and kiss you Brother

I really miss you Brother

I remember, I remember, oh I remember…

We’ll speak soon my Brother/Boy/Friend

©2009 Cornelius Jones Jr.

with Cornelius Jones Jr.
Tune in next Wednesday for more
Arts.Advocacy+Wellness with Cornelius Jones Jr.
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