B.Michael (“Bert”) received inspiration for one of his poems, “The Photograph,” from a framed image he had prominently displayed in his living room. William (“Bill”) Wesley Hansard, Jr. [b. August 16, 1937, New York NY; d. May 30, 1989, Boston MA] and Lester (“Les”) Howard Bunyon were both Black gay men and close friends of Bert’s who died of HIV/AIDS prior to 1993.
Les at Christmas, Bill with Bert. Both pictures taken some time between 1981-89. Both photos, which had been foamcore-mounted, were most likely special to Bert.
Think old-school, three-ring binder (11.5″ x 11″ x 3″) with a glossy, gold-trimmed cabernet-colored cover. Inside are removable, double-sided, cardboard inserts with light adhesive to keep photos in place beneath fold-over plastic sheaths.
Each block of photos below is an album page that was curated by B.Michael. His rich, joy-centering life wove family of origin with chosen family, commuting readily between his multiple roles of son/brother/nephew/grandson/uncle/cousin/godfather and friend/lover/brister/organizer/activist/community member.
The binder includes a dozen or so blank pages that he didn’t get around to populating. N.B. The pics are not necessarily in chronological order, and the dimensions of an image in this digital setting sometimes vary from the actual size of the corresponding print image that appears in the album.
Click on each photo for more context. AND, more importantly, if you know who/when/where/why details about an image, we encourage you to contact us here!
when mommy breaks down nervous you scour the bathroom scrub the floors wash the windows do the laundry dust the living room change the light bulbs when they burn out clean the kitchen buy the food and cook for yourself and mommy broken
you walk through the house quietly trying to be air as if the floors were hot coals broken glass or a bed of needles
you speak at a volume just right tone emotionless watch the news late-night talk shows the late movie listen to the radio at a volume so low you could hear mommy’s breath in the next room and you read about history about triumph about life
you go to school on time late or not at all but you always do well enough so mommy would not have to leave the house ‘cause you know mommy shouldn’t leave the house and when she does you are always by her side at the bank (you wonderin’ where she got the check to cash in the first place) at the doctor’s office the pharmacy some relative’s house by her side always she needing to lean
when mommy breaks you break into fragments but if you are to survive your blood must become glue ‘cause you must pull it together
you look into her eyes around you and guess guess if she needs a blanket something to eat the tv channel or radio station changed or it turned on or off any sign of life while all the plants in the house die or try to but you can’t let them so you take care of them too you answer the phone “oh she’s not in” or “oh she’ll call you right back” or “oh she’s sleeping” or “oh she’s…” you leave your friends at the door and it doesn’t even matter what you tell them
‘cause teenage noise would certainly disturb mommy or you or the stillness and someone something should explain the quiet
“why is mommy…” who cleaned the house worked every day raised four kids single-handedly while going to college bought food gave you and every one such good advice “why is she so broken” so you go through the house looking for clues
you find papers you read them all between and behind every line you uncover pictures books pieces of the puzzle secrets <