A part of me wanted to shed a tear,
But my well of feeling was so deep
It felt more like mourning’s nadir.
Profound feelings managed to seep
To the depths of my weary soul.
I was reading stories of long-term
Survivors of the HIV and AIDS toll.
They coped while others became infirm,
And tended them until they expired.
The survivors living on to become
Victims themselves, overwhelmed and tired.
In some cases getting to be scum,
Too sick to work, but too healthy to perish;
Ending up in medical and financial limbo.
In an effort to avoid more nightmarish
Emotional trauma, they isolated in woe.
Still living and struggling to adjust,
In trying to keep it all together,
Some days it’s been a case of just
Putting one foot in front of the other.
But it’s not over until the fat lady sings.
Disappointment, joy, loss, love, despair,
Boredom, hope and gratefulness are fillings
For their individual stories of life’s scare.
In a few cases older men have connected.
Ultimately, who will be the last man standing;
The last man to tell his tale, respected
For enduring to the final disbanding?
Al Smith tested positive for HIV in 1988. He lives in San Diego, California.
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