Na(HIV)PoWriMo ± April 28, 2017

Barbara Rockman
As My Lover Dies of AIDS

As the clear cut mountain
so the boy incarcerated for a crime

he did not commit he wanted to
bring his mother bags of gold

As the disappeared wolves
and crabs so the juniper turns to rust

As the boy sought his father’s
arms to wrap round what his brother shunned
what his every pore and prayer craved—

simple love a body twin to his own
so the forest so the tide and glacier
turn ashen with refusal

The boy turned man is dying
of what was natural as spring run-off
as turtles shuffling young to salt water

He has watched the earth corrode
As contagion corrupts cells so
a country’s veins rupture

As he grows old
as the mountain’s scraped raw
so flesh blisters

Sea afloat in plastic
and yet tufts of spring grass

His body frail as drought
and yet he wets his lips and hums

One riff for the continent
one for the self


Barbara Rockman is the author of Sting and Nest (Sunstone Press, 2011) and Absence of Wind (University of New Mexico Press, forthcoming). Her poems have appeared in Calyx, Bellingham Review, The Pinch, Louisville Review, Nimrod and elsewhere. Barbara received the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award and the National Press Women Book Prize. She lives in Santa Fe, NM where she teaches poetry and leads writing workshops for victims of domestic violence.

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Here is today’s prompt

(optional as always)

As Na(HIV)PoWriMo draws to a close, we’ve encouraged you to write poems in form. Today we encourage you to write an abecedarian—a poem in which each line begins with a successive letter of the alphabet, or some variation on that basic principle. A couple of HIV Here & Now poets have contributed abecedarians, including this poem by Jenna Le and this sequence of five abecedarians by Kathleen A. Lawrence.