The AIDS first appeared 
like a black dog's bite 
and would go away, 
kicked and yelping. 

Then there was the throat 
full of beetles 
and legs like broken chairs 
found on the ocean's edge. 

Jonathan knew to rent this beach house. 
He'd die in Malibu, by God. 
It's only one month's rent, 
he told his mother in Reno. 

Besides, there'll be cash left over for you. 

The sea will make him clean, 
take away the vomit, the blood, 
the slow strings of high tide 
moving his eyes like puppets. 

He walks with a fever 
into the Pacific each day now, 
bobbin, buoy, bottle in the waves. 

On the shore he puts his ear 
to the white silt, 
he hears the heartbeat 
of the earth. 

And spells out his name, 
in the sand. 

from Malibu Stories 
(c) 1991, Black Tie Press