Na(HIV)PoWriMo ± April 7, 2017

Sam Avrett
To the death

Greeks and Trojans fought to the death.
Vicious nasty battles on the Aegean,
Broken bones, bloody wounds, shouts of pain.

Those wars are remembered in smooth white marble.
Simple stories with a nice clean arc.

Memory protects us, clears the ugliness, trims the thorns of trauma.
What it felt like to fall, the pain of the bone break, the struggle to stay alive,
somehow we only remember the outlines.

A memorial is dedicated in New York to the plague years. It was.
A bad time, too many ambulances in the night, too many people we never knew.

Idealized pure lines, simple and grand.
The pain barely shows through.



Sam Avrett works with The Fremont Center, a collective of HIV program and policy consultants who support good grant making, program management, and policy and strategy development for health and human rights.  Sam is also a member of the International Committee of the Netherlands organization Stop AIDS Now!, a Board member of the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition (AVAC), and a volunteer emergency medical technician on an ambulance in his home town of Fremont, New York. Prior to becoming a consultant in 1999, Sam was a co-founder and first Executive Director of AVAC and before that worked with Gay Men’s Health Crisis, New York Blood Center, and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative.

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Here is today’s prompt

(optional as always)

Write a poem about starting antiretroviral therapy (HIV meds) in 2017, either from your actual first-person perspective, the perspective of a first-person persona, or in the second or third person. For some information that might help your poetic process on this topic, check out this page on the basics of HIV treatment.



      Hi Raymond—I am posting your comment because you deserve to be heard and your geographical observation is accurate. But as the editor of the project, I want to quickly reaffirm my admiration and gratitude for this poem and its author.

      • Raymond Saint-Pierre

        Agreed! Apologies that it appears as nitpicking, but I wanted to provide some geographical and historical context. As an accidental Stonewaller & having lost 2 lovers, the poem itself holds true! That small memorial across from St. Vincent’s I find insufficient, to say the least.
        I’m trying to find an appropriate submission of my own, btw.

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