Evolution of an Epidemic

 

Beside his bed, caressing that frail frame,

backbone holding together in hart times,

window opening soul and blocking shame

of stares, flower wilting like broken rhymes.

 

Jilted lover, keeper of down low

secrets of his creeping ways until his

secrets caught up to her--stolen notes

of shortened life sealed with his rhythmic kiss.

 

Shadows of shame now fall on valleys

filled with pills and powder, where children

find them cold and still and spared HIV’s

final grip, spared their pointed stares, spared men

 

always reaching to hate and not embrace

the outstretched arms of the human race.

 

 

 

 

Old Man by the Sea

 

Sitting on sand this moment,

I am a collector of moments,

an observer of the changing tide--

tempest-tossed and battle-tried,

refined by wave and flame

until only heart remains:

 

revived,

alive,

 

guardian of this tiny ship,

her port, her crew, her lisp.

 

Each moment courses through my veins,

carved like a delta through the Plains.

 

I see pitch, yaw, period, and trough,

chop, channels, eddies, and your sloth.

 

But watching the waves this moment,

the boy beside me does not see collections of moments--

 

only that the tide rises,

and the tide falls.

 

 

 

 

After War

 

Lingering weight

sneaks up

late at night,

 

lingering weight

lost years ago

awakening

in midnight rain--

 

tickling,

prickling

as it crawls

through time,

sprawling

across the sheets--

 

the evening ache

that fills my empty pant leg,

that fills his wife’s empty bed,

 

the evening ache

that fills hearts and heads,

 

pain wedded

to lost loves

and lost limbs

and lost lives.

 

 

 

 

Runaway

 

Patched petticoat dripping snow,

one glove slipped over a growing hand,

round blue eyes beneath brown strings

blown dry by the subway’s breeze--

hissing, kissing numb cheeks--

as it snakes through the grate’s ice,

as the overhang weeps beside her,

pitter-pattering against the subway heat

as if it were the last embers in her hearth.

 

 

 

The Boys’ Room

 

“Mama, which one do I use?” he echoes

in my ear, legs together lest he goes

in his big boy pants--with me or alone

as we’d practiced, alone as he’d shown

me last weekend. Every day he grows.

 

“Mama, which one do I use?” he echoes,

struggling to phrase it in French, though he knows

from the pictures if not the words. He moans,

“Mama, which one do I use?”

 

“Mama, which one do I use?” It echoes

in my mind, a reminder that hate knows

not what it has done--that she died alone,

that she was a strong, lovely woman shown

her place by the law… My son’s echo grows

“Mama, which one do I use?”

 

© Colleen M. Farrelly

 

Bio:  Colleen M. Farrelly is a freelance writer in South Florida whose works have appeared in Vine Leaves, Four and Twenty, The Recusant, and Stepaway, among others.