Na(HIV)PoWriMo ± April 12, 2017

Jay McCoy
Sweet Ghosts

There are sweet ghosts all around us.
—Nikky Finney

I feel
their eyes

heavy on me,

what I’ll say,
what I’ll do,

hoping I speak
truth, do right

by them & all
they taught

me. They
watch me

make wrong
decisions, hold

their breath,
sigh, pray

I’ll change
or do better

next time,
but they know,

most likely,
I won’t.


Jay McCoy is the author of The Occupation (Accents Publishing, 2015). His poems have appeared in anthologies and journals including Blue Fifth Review, Kentucky Monthly, Kudzu, Naugatuck River Review, Now & Then, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, and Still: The Journal. In March, he and a business partner launched a new independent bookshop, Brier Books, in Lexington, Kentucky. Jay holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the Bluegrass Writers Studio at Eastern Kentucky University. He co-founded the Teen Howl Poetry Series in Lexington as a venue for young poets to discover their own voice.

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Here is today’s prompt

(optional as always)

Since June 2015, every time we post a link to a daily poem on social media, we use the hashtags #hivtest #hivtreat #hivprevent #nohivshame #nohivstigma. We call that our HIV advocacy agenda in five hashtags. Write a poem that honors the HIV Here & Now advocacy agenda: a poem that celebrates the opportunities for honoring sexual health through HIV testing, prevention, and treatment, and that refuses to indulge in HIV-related shame or stigma. For some information that might help your poetic process on this topic, check out these profiles of amazing HIV-positive people.