a man pours

dedicated to Doug


cast of the original production

© 1986 by Tommi Avicolli Mecca


you are thinking of a boy

boy you once saw in the glass

boy who resembled you

he could not resemble you now

as you leave the sterile room

looking back does no good

pain is an overload

pain you once shot into your veins

pain they shot into your mind

chaos pain they unleashed with a single word


blood red streaks through a morning sky

as you leave this factory

where bodies go to mend

minds go to heal

some never return

nothing’s ever the same

morning is a bleach

everything fades out

you do not understand its intention

streets are numbing

jungle strut of cars & windows that are eyes

& people without sight

moments rise & collapse

you notice them only when they’re gone

you once dreamed of flying over

mountains peaked with snow & trees

bruised by rain

now you sit up nights waiting for the dawn

to ease the terror

it is not the unknown you fear

it is what you know of this invader

that has turned your blood against you

still the boy is screaming

not in the glass but in a house in front of

strangers he knows from some other moment

when they were not leaving pain in their wake

strangers he does not want to see anymore

there is a beach

sand that moves underfoot when the boy stands

looking out into the water

he walked to a point on the horizon that

seemed like the end of the earth

but there was always further to go

you remember this beach

as you fall back into your apartment

you wait for the exact moment when

the night surrenders to the dawn

the boy whispers, that is what you must do

surrender to sleep

surrender to a dream that empties stars

into your mind

morning is an overload

you hide beneath the covers

there are few words to describe you

dying is one of them

perhaps dying is all of them

no morning

only this dull thud

against winter white flesh

the empty silence

of too many nights spent alone

the sun-stained room bleeds caution

you remain in bed

drifting in and out of sleep

which is cold

a man pours self   soul   self  soul

into smoke as black and deep as universes

pours green-brown the spirits of

turmoil lumpy and earthy

an old fog slips out under the crack in the door

empty souls sip vodka

watch circles from cigarettes

think flesh

faces blank with nonchalance

desperate with images of a war unfought

souls clot

sudden but brief heart cries fade

with the thought of another 

night alone

you can only sit here for so long

before the words turn to stone

before the smoke blinds

before moments press against you with

such urgency that you

think of nothing else

but what you are trying to avoid

alcohol does not deaden

memory hardly tempers

no hand is strong enough to smash

there are no guarantees

but I had hoped to see the spring

I had hoped to plant life

but there is no life inside or outside of me

I wake in a sweat

I exist without thinking

except to remember

this war waged on the battlefield of my life

I am no secret anymore

everything whispers of me

dying does that

dying perfects

it is the only art

the only purpose

when morning comes

fat & round as a pregnancy

I will climb the stairs to the attic

& gaze into a withering moon

I will remember who I am

I will say, I have always dug my feet in

I will let off these balloons

knowing that they are


I have clung to these past few weeks


that has invaded me like this virus

nothing is clear

but it will be

balloons floating off

carried by the wind

as I face the invader

as I spit in its face

as I prepare to light the fire and defy the gods

I may not win against the invader but

morning will be an albatross no more


© 1986 by Tommi Avicolli Mecca. Performed at Temple University in 1986 and 1987 as part of a spoken word dance piece on AIDS, choreographed by Doug James. As far as I know, it was one of the first dance pieces on AIDS.