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Richard Kearns, AIDSoverSIXTY: Who are you to tell me how to sing the blues?

Who are you to tell me how to sing the blues?
by Richard Kearns, May 15, 2007


first read to the Planning, Land Use & Management Committee of the Los Angeles City Council the morning after i finished writing it 


my name is richard kearns. i am a 55-year-old gay man alive with AIDS in los angeles for more than 20 years. i am a medical cannabis patient & advocate. a citizen journalist & poet. i speak today in favor of regulating medical cannabis. this is my open poem calling for a city that’s a good place to die [5-15-2007].

to the self-appointed
hall monitors with
machine guns
uninformed about the law
sure about the criminals
killing us with pretense
& to all their many poisoned ears

who are you
to tell me how
to sing the blues?
i am the blues
i ring the blues out loud
for you: hear me now
these are the 1983
denver AIDS principles
in song: we are persons
with AIDS, we are, we must be
expert voices hearkened to
in all public health
policy dialogs about
our lives & deaths & our disease
the refrain is the same for
medical cannabis

here are the blues
i sing to you
our city must be
not only a good
place to live
but also also a
good place to die

this day’s challenge? to
create a greater good
with our land use wisdom

who are you
to tell me how
to sing the blues?
listen to my song
medical cannabis
saves lives
medical cannabis
can save more lives
medical cannabis
is the single most significant
in-place but unaccessed
AIDS treatment option
available today
in los angeles
for the more than
60,000 persons
livng here with
AIDS & HIV disease
& we represent
only 25 clandestined percent
of the medical cannabis community

i’m here
i’m queer
i medicate
here is my song
the time is ripe
to regulate
help us create
livable lives & deaths
who are you
to tell me how
to sing the blues?
i am the blues
song & singer
tap your foot & hum & listen
before i’m gone


—richard kearns
poet-secretary, patient advocacy network
citizen journalist,


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