Rock the Boat

You may be surprised by this,

Given my extroversion,

But I am new to making waves

Well, politically or philosophically

Especially on behalf of myself


I have been a champion

Of the underdog

For many moons

(Not seeing myself as worthy,

Though others were certainly)


And started working as one,

As an advocate,

In 1994 – when I learned

In a real, though quite safe & 

Supervised way,

About some of the truths

Of living homeless

In Mobile, Alabama,

And what it was to have HIV or AIDS

At that time and in that place


I came to care about, befriend, love

Some of my “clients”

I quote it because the term speaks

Of separation, I’m the helper,

They’re the helped, when

Looking back, they taught me

So much more about

Living an authentic and valuable life

Than I ever gave them,

Though hopefully,

I proved my worth


And now, as I’m musing,

I’m remembering Annie 

Her 2 long pigtails,

And denim overalls,

Son her entire life,

But still educating others

By telling about her difficult life 


Sewell, my birthday buddy,

A delicate, shaking, proud man

Dapper always,

Kind and courteous – a courtly gentleman,

Having the bravery to stand up

To his family for a dignified life


Jeff and his sweet husband

Inviting me to their home

Which was neat as a pin,

His love asking me back 

For a night of celebration

Our loss – Heaven’s gain


Sweet little Precious

Our youngest, and her auntie,

Who was raising her

In a heartbreaking backward arc

I remember visiting their apartment

Her proudly showing dancing photos

And pictures of a lively girl,

Running about,

Before she’d regressed to a wheelchair

And weak limbs, nonverbal 

And seemingly confused,

But fiercely loved – I could tell by her braided, beaded hair


Somehow it’s taken me lifetimes

To learn to see myself

As worth fighting for,

Including my thoughts,

But now that I’ve started,

I’m finding I’ve got sea legs

Which I had as a child,

I’d just forgotten

They were mine

All along.



*As an aside – I’ve just remembered that we had a fundraiser for Mobile AIDS Support Services while I was there which was held on the top deck of the USS Alabama… Boats and boats (ship, but you get what I mean).

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