Na(HIV)PoWriMo ± April 9, 2017

Risa Denenberg
Of Countless Deaths

Of countless deaths today,
I’ve witnessed three. To witness
any death is to feel desperately
alive. To discern that one’s own
body lingers at the border between
here and not here. To experience
the shock wave of foreboding. To slip
into a moment of groundless grace.

And if you ask, as many do, why
I chose this job, this charge of sitting
by the bedsides of the dying, I will
only say, because I can. What else survives
the secret love I have for the act
of witness is mystery, even to myself.


Risa Denenberg is the author of A Slight Faith, forthcoming in 2018 from MoonPath Press. She lives on the Olympic peninsula in Washington state where she works as a nurse practitioner. She is an editor at Headmistress Press, an independent publisher of books of poetry by lesbians.

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Here is today’s prompt

(optional as always)

Write a poem about having sex with awareness of HIV. Write from your own perspective, or from that of a persona who knows that they are HIV-positive or knows that they are HIV-negative or does not know their HIV status at all. Try to get inside the mind and body of the speaker. Try to get inside the sexual experience. Is it sex with a spouse? Sex with a non-spousal partner? Sex for money? Sex for drugs? A hookup? A one night stand? A casual thing? Sex with a condom? Sex without a condom? Is it raw? Is it bareback? Is it kinky? Is it boring? Etcetera? HAVE FUN WITH THIS POEM! Don’t be all gloomy and doomy about HIV AND SEX. No handy link to information online to help you with this one. Do your own research. Use your imagination.


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