Poem 95 ± September 7, 2015

Elaine Sexton
To 1989

If I could forget you completely
I would, year that took
Larry, that took John,

that took Eduardo
and Sean and Tom,
year of ignorance

on a tear,
gouged with fear
and your relentless, brazen

winning streak,
your gamblers
run amok,

stink of death,
stink of void,
wherever did that terror go?

each day of breathing
a beating endured
in the chest, heave

of pneumonia,
cavity of sorrow,
ACT UP and walk outs,

year of joyless Central Park,
the hidden life
of the Ramble,

year of what it means
to be a top, year of

next of kin, being us,
we discover we are
next of kin, kin

being too scared
to visit, too scared
to share a dish.

I remember you,
I remember
what’s left of you,

I remember
who you spared, and who
you swallowed whole.

Elaine SextonElaine Sexton is the author of the poetry collections Causeway (New Issues, 2008) and Sleuth (New Issues, 2003). A third collection, Prospect/Refuge, will be published by Sheep Meadow Press in late 2015. Her poems, reviews, and essays have appeared in numerous periodicals including American Poetry Review, Poetry, Art in America, Oprah Magazine, Pleiades, New Letters, Prairie Schooner, and Poetry Daily. She teaches poetry and text and image workshops at the Sarah Lawrence Writing Institute, in the graduate program at City College (CUNY), and beginning this summer at New York University. She serves on the board of Q Avenue Press and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

This poem is not previously published.