The New World

Mark Olmsted
2 min readMar 3, 2021

The New World

It is said

that the native peoples

of what was to become Virginia

could not see for many days

the anchored ships

when they first appeared off shore,

until their brains learned

how to perceive

what they had never before conceived.

We, on the other hand,

did imagine this plague,

made movies predicting it,

and yet the notion

of a half-a-million dead, and counting,

was and is even now

as ungraspable

as the those off-shore mirages were

to the Algonquins in 1607.

My people have been here before, though.

In Manhattan, in 1982,

I went to the first candlelight march

when AIDS-deaths topped 10,000,

and when we got back to the apartment

to see if it made the news,

my friend Paul turned to me and said:

“We’re all going to die.”



Mark Olmsted

Author, "Ink from the Pen: A Prison Memoir" about my time behind bars. See GQ dot com “Curious Cons of the Man Who Wouldn’t Die” for story of how I got there.