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.
you blew through me
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