Michael Broder is the author of This Life Now (A Midsummer Night’s Press, 2014), a finalist for the 2015 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Assaracus, BLOOM, Columbia Poetry Review, Court Green, Painted Bride Quarterly, and other journals, as well as in the anthologies This New Breed: Gents, Bad Boys and Barbarians 2 (Windstorm Creative, 2004), edited by Rudy Kikel; My Diva: 65 Gay Men on the Women Who Inspire Them (Terrace Books, 2009), edited by Michael Montlack; Spaces Between Us: Poetry, Prose and Art on HIV/AIDS (Third World Press, 2010), edited by Kelly Norman Ellis and ML Hunter; and Divining Divas: 50 Gay Men on Their Muses (Lethe Press, 2012), edited by Michael Montlack.
* * * This guy hits me up on Scruff. Alex. Not his real name. I know his real name now. But I’ll continue calling him Alex. He didn’t want to have sex with me. He was about 90 miles away, somewhere in New Jersey or Pennsylvania. He just wanted to chat. About being a cumslut. Alex had been a more or less normal gay man with a boyfriend. More of a bottom, but that’s no special distinction. Then he started to crave cum. More than that, he started to crave HIV. He wanted to get infected. Some people call it “getting pozzed.” Alex says he started “chasing,” short for “bug chasing,” phrase from the 1990s
when some guys started romanticizing HIV infection, seeking HIV-positive partners to bottom for raw, hoping to get infected. These bareback bottoms were called bug chasers The men who cooperated, exposed them to HIV, were called gift givers. Sounds almost innocuous, like straight, no chaser, or like carelessly drinking from the same glass as somebody with a bad cold. There’s so much more to it than that. It is so deep and dark and damaged, yet at the same time so completely comprehensible, normal even. Or so I say. I know the idea that I find this anything less than completely revolting will itself seem completely revolting to many people. Are any of these people reading this poem? I suppose some of them are.