for Keith Haring’s Untitled (Dance), 1987 

by Shade


Our club was built on 44th,

to the right of the alleyway

where adolescent blood 

bound friendships hours before 

women made ends meet

with their womanhood. 


When the epidemic sunk its teeth 

into this barbarous city, 

years later,

other sinners’ sins were forgiven, 

then we became the scapegoat. 


Before newspaper headlines 

reported the deaths of thousands, 

threats were bandaged on our window,

slurs spat on our faces—

They must’ve thought 

the virus was transmitted through kindness, 

so hatred was their prevention 

and pop our medicine.


‘Cause we never did stop dancing 

under the blinding lights,

even when 112 occupants became 78, 

and 78 dropped to 36, 

‘til 36 was 5 blistering bodies

pacing themselves with the record’s rotation.

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