Thursday, November 20, 2003


Gay Men, HIV, Barebacking, and Safe Sex

Please visit The Body, the most comprehensive AIDS and HIV resource on the internet. It includes information, Q&A, support, communities, and more, with areas devoted to the health of gay men.

This poem deals bluntly with unprotected sex among gay men. "Bareback" is from my book Holding Me Together, which also includes some of my most popular essays (such as "Reactions to Homophobia" and "Not Worth Dying Over"). The HIV-infection rate has been rising again in the US, despite all we know about how to stop its spread.

Bareback, by Duane Simolke

Louder, louder, the music pulsing
harder. Lights flashing, faster.
Young male bodies grinding harder
on the crowded dance floor,
in the ecstasy of ecstasy.
Heat, sweat, eyes, hands,
another night, pulsing faster
than crystal shooting
through your veins
harder than a stranger
in a hurry, in a daze.
Simply in. He says it’s better

And you think it can’t happen to you,
but if it did, the new magic pills
would make it go away,
but this time it pulses faster
than crystal shooting
through your veins,

faster than insurance running out,
faster than parents walking away,
faster than friends dying off,
faster than a virus mutating,
faster than another cure failing,

faster than the thirty seconds
he wouldn’t take
to open a package
and slide on a condom.

But all that happens off stage.
With perfect hair and perfect clothes,
we live in the safety of the dance floor.

Make up a name,
and tell me, do you ride
skin to skin?

Some related books or DVD.
(This is not a “select” or “official” list—just a sampling.)

The Crisis of Desire: AIDS and the Fate of Gay Brotherhood
My Own Country: A Doctor's Story
And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic
Holding Me Together
Latino Gay Men and HIV: Culture, Sexuality, and Risk Behavior
Queer Latinidad: Identity Practices, Discursive Spaces
On the Down Low: A Journey Into the Lives of "Straight" Black Men Who Sleep With Men
Making the Man: A Young Man's Guide to Safer Gay Sex
It's My Party
And the Band Played On
Longtime Companion
Alive & Kicking

Bareback also appears in my eBook Selected Poems.

Entry updated 7/6/13.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

The Alliance for Lung Cancer Advocacy, Support, and Education (ALCASE).

I recently mentioned here that November is Diabetes Awareness Month. It is also Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

The Alliance for Lung Cancer Advocacy, Support, and Education (ALCASE).

I recently mentioned here that November is American Diabetes Month (see the American Diabetes Association website for details about that). It is also Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

The Alliance for Lung Cancer Advocacy, Support, and Education (ALCASE) identifies itself as “the only not-for-profit organization dedicated solely to helping those living with lung cancer improve the quality of their lives through advocacy, support, and education.”

Please visit their website to find out how you can protect yourself against the most common form of cancer, and how you can help raise awareness. The site also includes an online petition to help convince Congress and the President to better fund lung cancer research, education, and support. Please do yourself the favor of learning more about this dangerous disease and how you can help fight it.

Suggested reading: Lung Cancer: Myths, Facts, Choices--and Hope by Claudia Henschke, Peggy McCarthy, and Sarah Wernick. Peggy McCarthy founded ALCASE and is a long-time advocate of increased lung cancer awareness. She contacted me recently about this important issue, and I will have more information about it in some of my future blog entries.

Of course, I will also have more book reviews, and updates on my writing projects as well. Thanks for reading!

Monday, November 10, 2003

This past weekend, I signed copies of my Texas fiction collection The Acorn Stories at the 2003 Texas Book Festival. I enjoyed meeting readers and writers from all over the state, as well as meeting with a representative from iUniverse. Austin and the areas around it are absolutely beautiful, and I suggest visiting! I was also pleased to see The Acorn Stories receive more publicity!

The Acorn Stories Table of Contents

"Acorn": When we arrive at the fictional West Texas town of Acorn, the narrative keeps shifting between Regina and Dirk, who both seek control over their relationship.

"Flip, Turn": A different scene from the narrator's amusing but unproductive life comes to him every time he turns to swim in the opposite direction.

"Keeping A Secret": A little boy wants to shield his mother and his little brother from a dangerous situation.

"Survival": A young teacher clashes with his school's emphasis of uniformity over diversity and sports over academics.

"Paying The Rent": In this politically incorrect tale, an inarticulate young man hopes to marry a rich woman so he can pay the rent, but he finds her repulsive.

"Morgana Le Fay": A widow finds her new romance disrupted by her Siamese cat's strange behavior.

"Your Daughter": Gretchen's approach to raising a daughter and maintaining a marriage requires ignoring problems and carefully orchestrating conversations.

"Knock": A father sees his daughter abandon her Mexican heritage, and he now fears other types of abandonment.

"Come With Me": The conflictive influence of her overbearing sister and her supportive husband forces Becky to re-evaluate her ambitions.

"Dead Enough": Farcical look at English departments, tabloid TV, the publishing industry, and America's superstar culture.

"Mae": Standing by her husband's grave, an elderly woman looks back at the joys and challenges of marriage and motherhood.

"Timothy Fast": In this satirical retelling of the Faustian myth, a Jewish businessman finds himself pulled into small-town politics.

"Mirrors: A Blackmail Letter": The owner of an art gallery becomes the target of a "family values" witch-hunt, spear-headed by Acorn's closeted mayor.

"Echoes": A time of unexpected changes for Becky and her husband.

"Oak": Julie Briggs can only talk to her mother by leaving messages on her answering machine, but she refuses to give up her voice.

"Acorn Pie": An unusual weekend in the life of an unusual town.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Monday, November 03, 2003

I’ll be in Austin this weekend. If you’re there, please look for The Acorn Stories: Second Edition in the iUniverse display (Book Fair Booth #413), at the Texas Book Festival. Press Release.

From First Lady Laura Bush, honorary chairperson of the Texas Book Festival: “The Texas Book Festival’s mission is twofold. We have a wonderful annual event that gives everyone an opportunity to experience the great range of literary talent that Texas offers, while making a valuable contribution to public library collections across the state. These grants are making a significant difference.”

Some of the other writers at the book fair: Dave Barry, Elmer Kelton, Amy Tan, Kinky Friedman, Joe Bob Briggs, Walt McDonald, Molly Ivins, and former Texas Governor Ann Richards.


About the The Acorn Stories: Second Edition…

I polished some of the dialogue and descriptions, while keeping the characters and situations exactly the same. The formatting looks better, without the teasers at the beginning of each chapter, and with a better overall look for the text. My publisher, iUniverse, chose the second edition as part of their new “Editor’s Choice” series, which they promote more aggressively.

The first edition ended with a brief bio and just a list of my other books. This one ends with a longer biography/bibliography that includes a paragraph each for my other books. Also, the second edition is out in both paperback and hardcover, making it my first book available in hardcover!

The Acorn Stories: Second Edition, Paperback

The Acorn Stories: Second Edition, Hardcover


I’m happy to report that the publicity for that second edition is also bringing more attention to the spin-off The Acorn Gathering: Writers Uniting Against Cancer.

Unfortunately, I’ve found that some people seem to worry that The Acorn Gathering is some depressing book about cancer and won’t appeal to my usual readers. Actually, it has the same emotional range as the books I wrote alone. The themes, settings, and topics also vary. Some of the stories deal, in part, with cancer, but others present characters in situations such as finding love, losing weight, or helping people in need.

The subtitle Writers Uniting Against Cancer comes from the fact that this unusual collection raises money for the American Cancer Society. I found five amazing writers to contribute short fiction, and I wrote four of the stories. All of our royalties from The Acorn Gathering are going to the American Cancer Society.

I’m excited about both Acorn books finding new readers and want to thank those of you who have already been supportive of my work!


The Acorn Gathering Table of Contents


Part One: Acorn, Texas

Finding Acorns In Winter. By Duane Simolke.
The Seedling. By Jan Chandler.
Fat Diary. By Duane Simolke.
Again. By Duane Simolke.
Lynching. By Huda Orfali.

Part Two: Beyond Acorn

Nachos Are Green And Ducks Appear To Be Blue At Town Pump In Cut Bank, Montana. By Bill Wetzel.
As I Lay Dying. By Huda Orfali.
The Flamenco Painter. By Shawna Chandler.
The 23rd Of August. By Timothy Morris Taylor.
A Morning By the River. By Bill Wetzel.
Dancing With the Angels. By Huda Orfali.
Gun. By Jan Chandler.

Part Three: Still Beginning

The Last Few And the First Few. By Duane Simolke.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

November is American Diabetes Month!

Please visit Government Relations & Advocacy at the American Diabetes Association website to find out how you can help. Or just visit that site to learn how to better cope with diabetes. Since over 16 million Americans now face diabetes, it affects most of us, directly or indirectly. With the current trend of obesity, that number might grow much higher.