From "Poets for Life: 76 Poets Respond to AIDS" (Crown: $18.95; 220 pp.). Dixon's most recent poetry book is "Change of Territory" (Callaloo Poetry Series, University of Virginia).

Work out. Ten laps. Chin ups. Look good Steam room. Dress warm. Call home. Fresh air. Eat right. Rest well. Sweetheart. Safe sex. Sore throat. Long flu. Hard nodes. Beware. Test blood. Count cells. Reds thin. Whites low. Get mad. Fight back. Call home. Rest well. Don't cry. Take charge. No sex. Eat right. Call home. Talk slow. Chin up. No air. Arms wide. Nodes hard. Cough dry. Hold on. Mouth wide. Drink this. Breathe in. Breathe out. No air. Breathe in. Breathe in. No air. Black out. White rooms. Head hot. Feet cold. No work. Eat right. CAT scan. Chin up. Breathe in. Breathe out. No air. No air. Thin blood. Sore lungs. Mouth dry. Mind gone. Six months? Three weeks? Can't eat. No air. Today? Tonight? It waits. For me. Sweet heart. Don't stop. Breathe in. Breathe out.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World