“HIV” – a poem for National HIV Test Week


wedged into the bloat of Mankind, it lurks
coiled in the caverns of our insides
and it snares without hooks or nets or clamps
until all of our blood is occupied
and bellowing out, breaths become a blink
ground down by the weight of a dying heart’s pulse
and snaked into the body’s tributaries
the dried blood-tide ropes its territory
its naming has never contained it
no sound has delayed it, and yet we deny it
judging its victims, sinner, demon, beast
until it snatches one of us; too late we know
it has the seared conscience of a desert rock
and born deaf and dumb and bound to nothing
it forever strafes its code in spaces
whose first and final tourist is silence
and despite all the lines of ink we scribe,
it imprints itself and imprints itself and imprints itself
on every nation’s flag; yet it begs no translation,
because death has swallowed all our tongues.


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