Scott Chalupa




At  the  Blood  Center  the  woman  says  you’re  barred  from  donating blood.  
Asked    why,     she    answers     you    responded     ye s    on     question    34.
But  you  wore  a   condom   that   time you  say. MSMs  (men  who  have  sex
with    men)    are   44    times   more   likely,     she   says,    to     be     infected  
with HIV/AIDS,   but   can’t  say  from   when  or  where  this  number  comes.
You  ask  why  women  who  sleep  with  MSMs  are  barred  for  12  months,
but   not   for   life.   It’s    irrelevant    to    your    situation,    she    says.   You
wonder    why    your    sex    life    is   a    situation.   You   get   up   to  leave.

On     your     way     out,     a    mid-forties    queen,    swishy    and    wearing
eyeliner,    is    talking    loudly    on    the    phone     about     his     boyfriend
who’s    been     tricking    on    the    side.    You    stop    to    ask    him    how
and   how  often   he   donates   blood,   but   the  phlebotomist   points  you
to    the     door     and     says    again,    thank     you     for     your     honesty.




Ask to hear the story again the one
You know already how the composer
When he passed at last left only sketches
Of the third act how the hired pen who
Completed the opera overwrote it
At first with notes from his own oeuvre how
Toscanini still cut the final score
Down three further minutes and yes I know
You ask for the story because only
Its sound can forestall my melancholy
My ominous grasp of what is coming
The operatic forgetting of time
No longer mine now the story is yours
Administer its morphine dream
To the coming queens who like me
You numinously usher
To their long-gone loves
When the last legend I ever loved
Knew he was going blind
He said he’d give me his right eye
So at least that little bit of him
Would live to find a cure
And I told him it would
Be an immense help if he could
Give me his left as well
From the hospital morgue
I collect his nameless eyes
With other eyes I look at his
And tell his tale again
She enters your room in the ICU as though
A starlet stepping down through and into
Other dimensions she tells you there
Could be lesions on your optic nerves and
That’s why the whole scene is blurring
Like an old Hollywood dissolve lean in
She says listen to this composer’s
History you feel it’s mostly true even if
Intercut with details of an unknown opera
Critic she once knew but what you hear
Is her operatic resolve your deteriorating
Vision she says could be some unknown
Condition you wonder how many
Other queens get this
Kind of celebrity treatment.

Scott Chalupa writes to live in an attic near the margins of Columbia, SC, where he is pursuing an MFA at the University of South Carolina. A Houston, TX native, his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Fall Lines - a literary convergence, Oxford Comma Review, HIV Here & Now, and other venues. He has led workshops for Houston Poetry Fest, the Alzheimer’s Association, and the Houston Public Libraries’ SpeakOUT! Series for LGBT writers.