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