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Hart Island

I wrote this poem about Hart Island, New York's "potter's field," a number of years ago, and it appears in my collection, Things Seen in Graveyards. This poignant article today in The New York Times revisits the island to ask what happened to the AIDS victims whose bodies were sent there. Even the dead were shunned and their coffins were piled up while workers were afraid to touch them. I wondered sometimes whether my flight from New York in 1985 was an over-reaction -- a vast majority of friends and acquaintances had died, and this article confirms that, noting that 100,000 died in New York during the peak of the epidemic, making up one quarter of the nation's victims.

Ferry cuts fog in Long Island Sound, baleful horn bellowing
a midnight run unblessed by harbor lights, unknown to sleeping millions
convicts at the rails, guards behind them, dour-faced captain at the helm a face and a pipe and a dead-ahead glare, an empty gaze that asks no questions offers no advice

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