This was a toughie to write. I think I’ll let the poem do its own thing, but it was for the NaPoWriMo prompt of writing a “valediction”, which got me thinking about some obvious paths to walk along for the theme. I had four inspirations bouncing around as well for this: Walt Whitman, Allen Ginsberg, Jane Kenyon’s “Let Evening Come”, and Peter Campion’s “Dandelions”. I’ve just found Peter Campion, and I’m thoroughly charmed by his work, so I shall have to investigate his stuff further. In workshop, the advice we’ve been given is to find poets who we admire greatly, and trace their writing genealogy, so to speak: find who inspired them, read those poets, find who inspired them in turn, etc. A “family tree” of poetic voice.
Requiem for the Infected
O murdered youths: may they leave the light on
when you come home,
all you snow-white boys,
up the back of a rainbow-scaled serpent
the key’s beneath the mat.
Hide your childish toys!
The sky has been opened, and an angel comes
cruel with the sun in his mouth,
cold, pale, hot,
all stinking brimstone and singing,
how much have you got?
And he shakes a wet fist,
shows a drop on one thumb.
O murdered youths!
who burned with an Aztec fire,
who dove into lakes and pierced
each other through:
how did you fall apart, waste away so young?
The salt that I shed makes a flat
down my cheek to
my mouth, lures out a bloodstained tongue
which is incanting, forgive me!
I was too afraid for you.