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Saturday, May 30, 2020


by Mary K O’Melveny

Larry Kramer (June 25, 1935 - May 27, 2020)

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.
—epigraph to The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer
from “September 1, 1939" by W.H. Auden

Angel of agitprop.
Terror of timid times.
Shout first, schmooze later.
A shriek into skies
defeats discreet death.
Being polite never
gets appropriate attention.
Rage against the slight,
against the folded lie.
No heartbeat can stay quiet.

How we say goodbye
always matters more than
we think when the party
is on. How many names
can be embroidered on
quilts or printed in papers
before we go mad with grief
or sit stunned into silence?
Losses cannot be private
or they will mean nothing.

Quiet farewells are for sissies.
Frankly, we need more fury.
Power never changes course out
of duty. There must be shame.
We listen when wolves howl.
We may want to be loved alone
but we must act up to make
it so. The spleen is the most
important organ of the body,
next to a normal heart.

Mary K O'Melveny is a recently retired labor rights attorney who lives in Washington DC and Woodstock NY.  Her work has appeared in various print and on-line journals. Her first poetry chapbook A Woman of a Certain Age is available from Finishing Line Press. Mary’s poetry collection Merging Star Hypotheses was published by Finishing Line Press in January, 2020.