June 12, 2017

Unintentional Rainbows

Miguel M. Morales

Ever since I woke up / this morning, I've been seeing / unintentional rainbows.

The seats on the bus with / curving multicolored lines in the fabric/ reveal
a cascading array of rainbow figures / endlessly jumping and dancing through sunlight.

In the library / art students file past / my desk moving toward / a table in the back. They
spread out / colored pencils. Sharp tips / reproduce deconstructed rainbows on sketchpads.

A small black girl in the grocery store / her hair separated with vibrant / elastic hairbands,
pulls her mother / to the display of fruits and berries / a kaleidoscope of colors.

Sitting in the kitchen listening / to a report marking one year since / the Pulse shooting,
I finally let my tears flow / as a luminous sunset gifts me / another rainbow.

Don’t Call It an Anniversary

Miguel M. Morales

Anniversaries celebrate our best moments
like weddings and first dates.
They recall our special connections from 
first kiss to the day we met our best friend.

There will be no anniversary toasts to the 
discriminate massacre of 49 people. 
No specially compiled playlist or 
dancing for the injuries of 53 more. 

There will be no surprise parties 
for grieving families and friends.
No dinners will celebrate the sustained 
pulsing pain of brown and black queers.

We will sign no cards with images of cakes 
on the cover and scripted writing inside
nor will we exchange wrapped gifts 
while searching for the nearest exit.

Anniversaries celebrate our best moments. 
Many followed in the aftermath. 
We will applaud and embrace them
in the days and months to come.

But for today, just for today, 
don’t call it an anniversary. 

March 11, 2016

An Old AIDS Activist Rages about Hillary Clinton

Folks, I'm having a hard time processing what Hillary Clinton said today about the Reagans and HIV/AIDS. So I just need to put some stuff down.

Today is tough. Right now is tough.

I haven't rage cried in a long-ass time. I've forgotten how rage tears give me a migraine and that my burning eyes and forehead ignite the tears on my face.

I won't be able to sleep tonight.

“It may be hard for your viewers to remember how difficult it was for people to talk about HIV/AIDS back in the 1980s, Because of both president and Mrs. Reagan, in particular Mrs. Reagan, we started a national conversation when before nobody would talk about it, nobody wanted to do anything about it, and that, too, is something that I really appreciate. With her very effective, low-key advocacy … it penetrated the public conscience and people began to say: ‘Hey, we have to do something about this too.’”

Nancy Reagan's death immediately brought up memories of friends I've lost. Memories of my days as an AIDS Activist. Memories of rage, of death, of fear and ignorance. Everything was a fight.

Miguel M. Morales at an ACT UP protest in St. Louis, Mo.
Me giving my mom a reason to pray the rosary.
We were in the streets, in the local government offices fighting against city ordinances.

We were in the statehouses, fighting legislation.

When businesses, both small and corporate, wanted to fire People with AIDS (PWAs), we fought back.

When the American Medical Association (AMA) wanted to institute mandatory HIV testing for anyone seeking medical treatment, we fought them and we won.

When the only form of treatment was a failed cancer drug, we fought the FDA and got new treatment options. And we fought the hardest against our president who let people die from ignorance rather than publicly say the word AIDS.

So when Hillary Clinton praised the Reagan's advocacy, I thought of my friends. I remembered how they gave their lives for this fight. When their immune systems were obliterated, they still showed up at protests. When their faces were covered with Karposi's Sarcoma, they volunteered to be our media spokespeople.

THEY were brave.

THEY deserve to be remembered for their advocacy.

THEY started the national conversation by screaming in the faces of the Reagans and the Bushes and the Clintons.

Hillary Clinton issued a tweet saying she misspoke about the subject and she apologized.

Sorry? My Bad? Oops?

An entire generation is gone. Hillary, you dishonored those fallen warriors and those of us who survived. We'll never know what we could have been had that generation lived. But we do know what we lost. We feel it everyday.

Because of you, not only did we feel the pain of loosing them all over again, we felt the rage.

Sorry didn't work then and it doesn't work now.

Miguel M. Morales at an ACT UP protest in St. Louis, Mo.
ACT UP teaching me how to channel my rage into action

March 7, 2016

Fat Writer at AWP

So my friend, Baruch Porras-Hernandez, posted the article below on Facebook. I adore him for many reasons but I'm inspired by how he embraces his queer brown fatness.

The article, about being fat while traveling, got me thinking of my upcoming trip to #AWP16.

In addition to all the preparations for panels, caucuses, off-site readings and other events, this traveling-while-fat stress is what's been occupying the back of my mind.

As the conference nears, this will move to the front of my thinking until the plan takes off, until it lands, until I check into my hotel room.

I've started doing things like walking stairs at work, not to get myself in shape or to be healthy, but so I won't be out of breath when I enter a conference room. I'll also carry a handkerchief to wipe my face because I don't want to be the fat sweaty guy.

Once in the conference room I'll look at the small seats and wonder if this will be the exact moment when one of those chairs, which has held bigger people than me, will break. Then everyone will look at the fat guy who broke a chair. I also try to be cognizant of my breathing because at some point, I'll get a dirty look from someone who doesn't want to hear a fat guy breathe.

I'll also have to figure out which clothes to pack -- ones that won't fight with me and that have some semblance of professionalism. I'll pack an extra belt just in case the one I'm wearing breaks. I'll shower at least twice a day because if there's a strange smell, people always look at the fat guy first.

This just part of what it's like for me to go to a conference.

There's a lot of reasons I'm fat and they are mine to examine. Yet whether it's travel or conferences or everyday life, I do my best not to let my size negatively impact or even harm on others.

Unfortunately, similar intentions are not always returned.

Me and my big fat attitude.

November 14, 2015

Lifting Sandra

I messed things up. I always thought there would be time to sit and have a chat with Sandra Moran. 

We work at the same place. We’re both writers. We know tons of the same people. I knew our lives ran on a parallel track and that sometime they’d cross long enough of us to talk about -- everything.

People who meet Sandra all say the same thing. She makes them feel as if they are the most important person in the room. I admit it always made me uncomfortable when she did that.

Every time I saw her or heard about her, she was rushing from one place to another. Sandra was always giving and teaching and supporting. 

So when she'd do that you're-the-most-important-person-in-the-room thing with me, I’d feel great but I'd also feel a little bit selfish. I knew I was keeping her from the other pressing thing that would eventually pull her away from our stolen moment.

We regularly threatened to meet up when we had time to talk. But I knew there wouldn’t be such a moment unless we were trapped in an elevator or we were in a hotel bar on the last day of a writers conference. Then we’d talk. I’d learn all the things I’ve read this last week about her on social media.

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