Colleen M. Farrelly

Teachings of a Street Prophet

Inarticulate teachings of a street prophet
ramble from his cracked, blistering lips; how can he
teach of the intricate, intimate, infinite?

I promise myself it will only take a minute
to hear his incoherent arguments, sure to be
inarticulate teachings of a street prophet.

I pause and take his pamphlet out of etiquette,
cringing inside. How can one without a degree
teach of the intricate, intimate, infinite?

Dirty, crazy, God’s self-appointed advocate,
he reeks of alcohol. His slurred words are only
inarticulate teachings of a street prophet.

At my lab, I toss his pamphlet in my wastebasket.
Reason drives science, science reason. How dare he
teach of the intricate, intimate, infinite!

But then I realize this unshorn, raving prophet
is a person—valued, loved—and I begin to see:
inarticulate teachings of a street prophet
teach of the Intricate, Intimate, Infinite.

Junkie Love

Romeo and Juliet huddle close
to the cooker near boarded up windows.
Rail thin, shivering, sweating, shaking, she
fumbled her belt and pleads, “Me next, baby.
Please? You know how I get when I miss my dose.”

Juliet rolls up her sleeves to expose
a good vein. Her age and naiveté shows;
she can’t do it herself, so they must be
Romeo and Juliet.

Warmth envelops her as heroin flows
through bruised, scarred veins, and her restless mind slows
as she nods off. Romeo lovingly
covers her with the tattered blanket he
found outside, hoping she never outgrows
Romeo and Juliet.

Colleen M. Farrelly © 2012

A Place Called Afghanistan

I sit in class and stare at the red nine of ten
atop my week’s chosen spelling test. We taught
our teacher where this place is: Afghanistan.

Fourteen years later, hear the rat-a-tat-tat,
feel the dust mix with sweat in the sweltering heat
and toss the backpack into the tattered tent.

It’s a world away, forever etched in our hearts—
names, dates long forgotten by most of the world
outside these mountain trenches—we few it haunts,

who’ve seen the children laughing, shouting strange words
in Pashto as we pass treacherous terrain.
At home, symbols of our country’s best or worst

decisions; here, we grieve, never forgetting
those we’ve lost in the Valley in the ‘Stan.

Colleen M. Farrelly © 2012