Poem 293 ± March 23, 2016

James Savik

I have seen the fire
Destroying everything in it path
In its blazing wrath

I have seen the fire
Bringing terror as its might
As it consumes the night

I have seen the fire
Slaying friends and lovers
Strangers and brothers

I have seen the fire.
Out of control consuming souls
Hell on earth a mass funeral pyre

I have been burned by the fire
With scars that don’t show
The loss it still burns and stings
Friends and lovers I cannot replace
I am haunted by their familiar faces
ashes and memories that I hold dear
Are all that’s left of those times and places
I have seen the fire and the funeral pyre
When I saw the lights go out on my generation
And horror and confusion gripped the nation
Consumed in a viral conflagration

I look to my right and look to my left
at the lonely, empty spaces
I walk where we walked and talk where we talked
in the lonely empty places
and wonder to myself why am I still here
the smoke it still stings my eyes
Someone must be left to remember
The year that innocence died.


Poet’s statement:

j-savik-80 jeff-d-79I graduated and turned 18 in 1980. I heard about a mysterious disease affecting gay males on NPR going too and from the University a year later. I was very much in love with a beautiful boy named Jeff. We had been together since the summer before my junior year. It was OK. We were together and nothing could hurt us. Until Jeff became ill in the mid 90s and died in 1996—just before the cocktail became available. I was shattered and crawled into a bottle for the rest of the decade. I finally sobered up in 2003. I haven’t really been right since. I haven’t found anyone else. While I am grateful for the years we had together, it broke something inside me to lose him. I am in every way that matters a widower.

This poem is not previously published.