Elegy for an ACT UP Warrior by Peggy Turnbull

I am not a silent poet

In Memory of Mark Kostopoulos, 1954-1992

..

You fought death with your body

at the FDA barricades in 1988

their ivory tower indifference no match

for your open mouth.

Headband around your curls,

infected, in desperate combat

you shamed power and won.

You were the voice of life, a moral authority

challenging all who would let you die.

You flamed like a firecracker,

loud and beautiful

burning out into gray ash.

At your funeral 250 mourners blew whistles,

pounded drums, and held your portrait high

on Santa Monica Boulevard.

It’s twenty four years later.

I think of you

as  June’s playful breezes

stir the flowering shrubs.

On this sunny ridge

everything that killed you is benign.

Swelling signals a bloom,

not an invasion.

A thrush is a bird fluting a tune,

not fur on your tongue.

Purple is a wood violet,

not a lesion.

Warrior–

you blew through me

onward…

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