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Two Poems by Matthew

April 2010

I am from Seattle, Wash.

The Waves

The waves of the water rush
over my body filled with HIV
They are not afraid
to touch the skin of the infected

They are not afraid
to provide the feeling of peace and power
The waves begin the rush with total power
But leave you with a sense of peace
And strength
that you may not feel out of the water
The ocean heals the soul
It touches the body
It provides a moment of reprise
The power provides a feeling of force and safety

And for a brief moment I forget that my body
Is full of a virus that will win
It will not only win the battle
But it will win the war

Leaving behind the lives of those I love
And take me to a place
where I will not feel as an outcast
Where I can feel eternal love and peace

A place where my brothers and sisters
who fought this war before
Are waiting with open arms to say welcome
But my time is not now
My time is to touch the ocean

Feel the power
Trust the strength and power of the universe
Learn to be loved
And learn to be at peace
with the simple things in life

My job in life is to live
To explore
To experience
To laugh
To cry
To learn
To grow
And prepare for what life throws my way
Patience is a valuable commodity

A Silver Lining to the Worst Cloud

I believe that the knowledge of this illness
was in many ways a silver lining in the cloud of life,
causing me to focus on what was important,
and allowing me to let go of the people
and events of life that have negatively clouded
my mind for so many years.

I believe that when life gives you a bucket of lemons
you make the best lemonade possible,
and I believe that this diagnosis,
while not immediately life ending,
has turned out to be a life affirming opportunity.
In the beginning I struggled for the words to say
to express the emotions I felt
for the loss of what I saw as innocence.

Would I lose my life?
Would I lose my health?
Would I be one of the millions of people
who lay dying in a hospital alone,
cold, in fear of what the end would bring?

I believe it was at that moment
that I choose to live.
I believe this illness has given me
the strength to reach out to the friends
who have been with me
through the thick and thin of life,
who have laughed with me, cried with me
when our other friends lost
their battles to cancer and AIDS,
and I reached out to those that I had harmed
by making amends in ways
that I never felt would be possible.

I have had the opportunity
to watch and be with two friends
as they both died of cancer,
and I learned some valuable lessons
from both of them,
but one of the most powerful lessons I learned
was to fight, live, and love.
Sure, terrible things happen to good people.
Sure, life is not always a bed of roses,
but your reaction to the situation
is much more telling of you as a person
than the disease you are given.

My good friend Steve
told me shortly after being diagnosed
with terminal cancer
that his job was to ready himself
and his friends and family for his death.
At the time I was saddened
thinking what a burden he carried,
but now I see it different.
What an opportunity
to touch the lives of the ones you love,
and help them in any small way
through the process of acceptance and letting go.

I believe that the human spirit
is resilient even in the toughest of times,
I believe that friendship and passion for life
will see me through what can be a horrible storm,
and I believe that the opportunity that HIV
has given me will allow me to fully live
the life I have been given
without all the baggage of the next bigger thing,
the next bigger job, the next bigger house, etc.
I see HIV as a silver lining,
and an opportunity to live
honestly and out loud.
I believe that the future holds marvelous gifts
if you do the hard work to find them.

I believe that with this information
I have found home in myself.

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This article was provided by 2010 Poetry Month at


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