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JONATHAN W. THURSTon: “HIV ISN’T POETIC” “I ASKED FOR IT” “OLD, SICK DOG”

HIV isn’t poetic

I got the call to the doctor’s office
January 7, 2015
Sat in the waiting room
waiting

When I got called back,  I sat
in another room
in a chair
fearing
expecting
the worst

a nurse came in

she didn’t close the door
she didn’t sit down
she didn’t look at me
just at

her clipboard

and said:

“Well, Mr. Thurston, your tests came back positive for HIV. Is there anything else we can help you with today?”

nothing poetic about that, is there

“Um, no thanks,” was all I said.

a part of me is still dead in that chair
still hopeful that all this is a dream

the rest of me is a zombie
walking dead

but I’m not dying
and I’m tired of looking for people with
brains.

I Asked for It

CW: sexual assault and rape

1
My profile said it all: 23yo kinky college student looking for love, hiv-undetectable. NashvilPred236 and I chatted for a month. And it felt great. Someone who didn’t judge me for a medical chart and didn’t care that I had this curse I never asked for and didn’t ask me to explain everything to him. And it felt great to be looked at like I wasn’t a walking-dead virus. He saw me for my love of books and my love of Disney and my love of Japanese food. So he met me there at a little hole-in-the-wall sushi place off Gallatin Pike. We talked, and he was even more magical in person and I said wow I’m so glad to meet someone who doesn’t judge me for my HIV status or anything like that and oh my satan it’s so refreshing to be treated like a—Huh? Uh, yeah, I have HIV. It’s on my profile…He pulls out the phone and puts on the app and suddenly my head is spinning in the silence and when he doesn’t look up and just lays twenties on the table just as the food comes out and leaves, I start to cry. When I try the sushi for two, I’m not sure if I taste soy sauce or tears. I cried on the way home.

2
After sex one time the guy asked how I got pozzed who pozzed me how it happened how it happened to the detail and he wanted to know that my partner had lied about his status and he wanted to know if I had wanted it and he wanted to know why I didn’t wear protection and he wanted me to know that he wished he could have been the one to pozz me. He didn’t know that I wanted and want to be loved despite my HIV not because of it. He wouldn’t let me leave until I said I would call him back. I blocked his number when I got to my car. And cried.

3
I met a guy who scared me once. We talked limits first and I came over and everything was great. He tied me up and used me and made me feel good and bad and rough and raw and full despite my emptiness. And then he whispered in my ear and told me that he actually had no plans of letting me leave. This wasn’t the plan. He kept going. He told me he wanted to make me drop out of school and stay there with me as his permanent house slave, always caged, used by his friends when they came over and he told me I was wasting my “purpose” with school when I should really be there to serve him and I just kept trying to look through the haze for a weapon I could use but when he came, his facade broke, and he was just a sweetheart. But we hadn’t talked about that happening up front. And I was still scared. When I walked out the door, I was still scared. I haven’t stopped. Oh my satan I never stopped.

4
I talk to adamsman100 for a good month sharing kinks and interests so when a night opens up and I’m horny for it I message him and we talk about the essentials—what all we planned to get into that night, my limits, my safe words and signs—and I text a friend my address and I head over. Once I’m there, he cuffs my thumbs together—I remember how tight they were and how they cut into my skin—and he pushes me to the ground and he and his friend fuck me and they fuck me too rough and I start using my safe words this wasn’t what we talked about this wasn’t the plan and his labrador was in the room with us and he says, if you don’t shut up, I’ll make my dog rape you too. So I lie there. And take it. And I know, no Tennessee judge would see my messages about kink from the past month and say I hadn’t asked for it. Not in Tennessee. I take it and cry when I get home. I rub my thumbs.

Old, Sick Dog

No one buys the old dogs
No one buys the sick ones
They cost too much
They die too fast
So I guess I’m an old dog
I spend so long looking for
love
that I sometimes just lie against
the bars
pretending they’re just cold arms
hugging me tight
I don’t feel sick
But the price displayed on my cage
keeps dropping
And I’ll always wonder—
always
—if my lover got me
because I’m cheap.
I’ll always wonder
if he’ll one day realize
he doesn’t have to have
a sick dog.