If you believe you are safe: Poetry by Tara-Michelle Ziniuk

If you believe you are safe

ring silence draped over night.
bring our end.

I a mess
want your attention,

There is a purpose for you

Two hundred thousand million more million six million a hundred million
spite science
search good
old campaign slogs
hope the epidemic is winning.

This great, quiet Democrat male
female gays rag you old

drafted society mother
one black infant sings

in Philadelphia
the lonely gay
candle wind his family

distant Danger women
Child killer
American cancer
disease Love
kill or ignore

hide alien state
cruel as God
mad person deserving victims
long pity
read worthy.

My call to you,

the President and Mrs. Bush.
embrace me in memorable ways.
In the lace of judgment, in cult moments, raise spirits.
In dark hours, I see grief grace the President

the American family
Believe our role as pat
act eloquently
we speak a ton
hemophiliac, gay

inject history
teach this:
this kill is no family race
no America

embrace more than a million
littering bodies
of the young
rock support.

not all of you have been blessed.
dare not love
dare weep

Grieve a lone mess
feel shame.
fear silence
reach out for quiet denial,

rage is the act when we
You the millions
you grieving
frightened, suffered ravages
millions strong

sound this pledge:
I will not rest,
where intimacy is suffering.
I will not hurry to my children,
I pray shame on the sound of my voice,
appeal: less grace
afraid to say the word
Good night.

Text excerpted from Mary Fisher’s 1992 Republican National Convention Address, Whisper of AIDS


—Tara-Michelle Ziniuk

Tara-Michelle Ziniuk is the author of three books of poetry, most recently Whatever, Iceberg with Mansfield Press. She’s a former harm reduction worker, currently working in arts and media. Her work has been featured in Joyland, EOAGH, Prism, Taddle Creek, and in The Best Canadian Poetry anthology. She lives in Toronto with her daughter.