This poem was written by Sandy’s Partner shortly before Sandy’s retirement in 2012. Read tributes and memories of Sandy on our memorial page: asaustin.org/sandy.

The eighties did not arrive – they struck
a generation of men –
the sons of war began to dance
the seventies before
and danced
from friday night
till sunday afternoon
the dance of pride
our bodies primed and beautiful
long hair shorn
we danced and disco’d till we dropped
and like young men
dared to share
no longer secrets
of older men
trained to keep it in
or keep it dark
or pretend
it was not so
and so
we disco’d till we dropped
and dropped those old pretenses
to plaintive dance-floor songs
and then
the eighties did not arrive
they struck
and inoculations and ejaculations
a thousand shouts of elations
not heard before –
a perfect storm
a critical mass
of something yet unknown
something from
the heart of darkness
crept in and danced with us
and young men began to fall
their names struck one after another
from little black books
a line through this one
and a line through that
till those little black books of names
became little books
of careful black lines
so they could be remembered
and now we danced with death
and Ray-gun never said
a word
    it was not there
the actor forgot his lines
while lives of young men
marched to numberless graves
the living left and cried
and still the actor lied
and so we called
first this one and then that –
what can we do?
all our friends have died
what can we do?
the eighties had not arrived –
they struck –
and so we did our best
and soon
it had a name
first uncertain then certain
the name stamped on –
and so we stomped and chanted
and demanded –
those of us still alive –
and did what we could
and taught and fought
and gave out rubbers
and laid out blankets
of love
and here we are
no longer silenced
but quietly brave
we teach and reach
more distance brothers and sisters –
but still we dance
and nothing’s left to chance –
the eighties not forgotten
and not struck
but left
to boundless memories –
at last they can arrive.

Lou Faiel-Dattilo
March 2012