Tim’s poems appeared in early issues of A&U. One of them, “Signs of Madness,” shows as much of Tim’s experience of AIDS, as it does the crazed world of that time.

Signs of Madness

Recognizing strings
of coincidence as having
baleful or hermetic meaning,
e.g. the fact that each
of Ronald Wilson
Reagan’s three names has
six letters. Mark of
the Apocalyptic Beast,
languorous and toothless
though it would have to be
to fit that application.
Smelling burning flesh
of sulphur, or a sweet
antibiotic sweat that
leaches into the sheets
and pillows, like the smell
my mother had when she was
dying, or the one I suddenly
developed in the weeks before
I came down with AIDS.
Muttering at motorists
in other cars, hearing
one’s voice pronounce
unspoken imprecation.
Wanting to impose Islamic
law for lapses of behavior
or taste within the city limits.
Limiting one’s television
fare to programs one recalls
from childhood. Wanting
to call childhood friends
and ask them how they’re doing,
how their lives have changed
since junior high. Memorizing
names of senators, bishops
of the church, or nominees for
Vice President from major
parties, and reciting them
at night to get to sleep.
Listing signs that all
may be no more right
in one’s mind than is right
in the world, and feeling
less anxiety from identifying
symptoms in one’s thinking and
behavior than comfort
in the list’s existence
and delight at having it
called forth.

—Tim Dlugos, Art & Understanding, Fall 1991 (published in the Dlugos collections Powerless and A Fast Life)


If you would like to read the poetry of Tim Dlugos, seek out the Lambda Literary Award-winning A Fast Life: The Collected Poems of Tim Dlugos, edited by David Trinidad (Nightboat Books).