Jim here. This is both a bit personal and a bit of a repost. Originally printed in the Floidoip issue of the LGBTQ Trevor Project charity issue of our old punk ‘zine Ricky’s Backyard, this poem is actually a letter slightly askew. I won’t rewrite the introduction to the poem (you can find that in this book, though…amazon affiliate link, etc etc). For this year, a still pandemic world of fuckdom, I thought about showing a different side of Jim (Hyde, not Phoenix).
Jim was a gay man. He was HIV positive. In his own words, he had AIDS. Jim lived with that for more years than allotted for most people. He was on state insurance and they would take away his prescription plan when he got ‘too healthy’ so he would have to get extremely sick before being allowed to take HIV meds again. That was a cycle that followed him until death.
Jim was a complicated man and showed that complication, warts and all. If you did get a chance to check out his book Up the Hill Backwards, you’ll seen what I mean. A few private moments with Jim I won’t share, but I will say that as a college prof, I was lucky enough to have him write to my class about HIV, being Gay, and all the shit he had to do just to try to live.
I can’t find the exact moment anymore (memory will do that to you) but I’ll share this song (below the poem) that was dedicated to Jim at a concert that took, well a lot of magic (and a bit of lying by ol’ Doc here), to pull off. Lying to man dying of AIDS, well, that’s for another time. Maybe.
Clean from crack one year this month.
it started as a self-medication
and grew into my whole life.
I live in a building where there are a few dealers
on each floor
and I have nowhere else to go,
so I was tough as a cocksucker with them all
and now I am left alone.
like disdain is the