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Today could be known as the first day of the rest of my life,
Today starts a new day because I am HIV+,
Today is different because I have to tell you,
Today is imagining how long I will have,
Today I am happy but yet crying in my despair,
Today is like all other days except I am different,
Today I have to plan my life,
Today I have to tell all I love them,
Today I have to ...
Today I have to ...
Tomorrow I think of Today,
Today I think what I will do tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow ...

    Sheri Israel, age 15


Pain is something that is new to me
It hurts a lot but it is hard to see.

Living with pain is hard to do
Getting rid of it is difficult too.

So I learn to ignore it and have a good time
By playing games and writing poems that rhyme.

    Tanya, aged 13
    (This poem was developed in a therapeutic session with Dr. Lori Wiener of the National Cancer Institute.)

Life and AIDS

Life is a beautiful thing,
sometimes filled with joy and happiness,
and sometimes, we have pain and sadness.
As we grow, we learn to appreciate the things that are given to us,
and the things we try hard to achieve.
So too for a baby born with AIDS:
what is given to them, young and so innocent, is life.
AIDS is not a sin, nor a crime,
more like a drawback in life.
Try not to look on the dark side of things,
but on the brighter side.
Don't let it get you down.
Rise up and strive to the best of your abilities.
Enjoy every minute of life, achieve all you can.

    Nadia Morgan, age 16

Up and Down, Vertical and Horizontal, Sweet and Sour, Black and White, and Hot and Cold

My life is not the same since I found out I am HIV positive
It seems like my life, as it once was, is now over.

My life in some ways is better, isn't that strange?
It is because I really value life. Do you?

My life in some ways is more difficult, that is not strange.
It is because there is a lot of pressure to make each day special.

My life is up and down, vertical and horizontal, sweet and sour, black and white, and hot and cold.
Learning to expect the changes took forever.
Now I know that no days in my life are for certain and changes are okay.

Up and down, vertical and horizontal, sweet and sour, black and white, and hot and cold is what it is like living with HIV.
Yes, my life is weird.
But it is my life and each day will be different than the next.
As long as I have life.

    Melissa Milne, age 14
    (This poem was developed in a therapeutic session with Dr. Lori Wiener of the National Cancer Institute.)

Everlasting Peace Visits Me

Alright living the life I live
Cannot change it, only accept it;
Quietly sitting, I close tired eyes.
Under forgiving skies
Intimately conversing with me
Revealing hidden lies
Ending the shame
Delivering tongue from blame.

I see further than I ever had
Meeting myself
Mildly caressing my diseased flesh
Undressing my very soul
Needing not to hide from truth
Only flaring faces without faith,

Deafened ears choosing to ignore
Eyes in pain shedding their tears,
Forgiving those who don't
I accept me.
Calling out my name
I answer proudly.
Everlasting peace visits me
Not petty, or weak, or cheap.
Continuing this chat with me
Yelling winds sleep at ease.

Subtle breeze kisses my lips;
Young faded memories
Not remembering me.
Dancing with God
Receiving unconditional love
Oceans wash away my impurities
Mountains move my imperfections
Everlasting Peace Visits Me.

    Sherisse Alvarez, age 14

Writing Exercises: Acceptance

  • Imagine that you have just been diagnosed with the AIDS virus. How would you deal with this? Would you be angry, at first? Or maybe not believe it, or pretend that it was a bad dream? After awhile, you would have to come to terms with your disease, and find a new way to live with the fact that you had an illness and might die from it. How would you live your life differently? Would you treat people differently? Would you try to spend your time in different ways? Describe this in a poem.

  • How would you feel if you learned that someone you love has AIDS/HIV? How would you come to terms with the fact that this person might sometimes feel very sick, and might even die sooner that you expected? Would you fight this knowledge, pretending that everything was "back to normal"? After a while, would you accept this knowledge and find a new way to live with it? How would it change the way that you treat this person? Pretend that you are explaining to this person why you have been acting strangely since you found out about their diagnosis. Or imagine that you are writing in your journal about this experience.

  • Does the world, as a whole, have to accept AIDS as a reality in order to learn how to live with AIDS as a part of life? What does this mean? If we "accept" AIDS, does that mean that we will protect ourselves better so that fewer people will contract the virus? Will "accepting" AIDS mean that more people will work together to find a cure for the disease? Will "accepting" AIDS mean that society will take better care of people who already have the disease? Write a letter to the world, explaining why it is better to accept AIDS than to pretend that it doesn't exist.

  • Can you think of at least one good thing about AIDS/HIV? Has it taught us that life is precious? Is it helping to bring people together? Will we live life more fully when we remember that we may die sooner rather than later? Write a poem about this.

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This article was provided by AIDS Poetry Project. It is a part of the publication AIDS Workbook 2.