Ada Limòn’s “The End of Poetry”

The End of Poetry
by Ada Limón

Enough of osseous and chickadee and sunflower
and snowshoes, maple and seeds, samara and shoot,
enough chiaroscuro, enough of thus and prophecy
and the stoic farmer and faith and our father and tis
of thee, enough of bosom and bud, skin and god
not forgetting and star bodies and frozen birds,
enough of the will to go on and not go on or how
a certain light does a certain thing, enough
of the kneeling and the rising and the looking
inward and the looking up, enough of the gun,
the drama, and the acquaintance’s suicide, the long-lost
letter on the dresser, enough of the longing and
the ego and the obliteration of ego, enough
of the mother and the child and the father and the child
and enough of the pointing to the world, weary
and desperate, enough of the brutal and the border,
enough of can you see me, can you hear me, enough
I am human, enough I am alone and I am desperate,
enough of the animal saving me, enough of the high
water, enough sorrow, enough of the air and its ease,
I am asking you to touch me.

Ada Limón, “The End of Poetry.” Published in the New Yorker. May 4, 2020.

Rafael Campo’s “Elegy for the AIDS Virus”

Elegy for the AIDS Virus (1999)
by Rafael Campo

How difficult it is to say goodbye

to scourge. For years we were obsessed with you,

your complex glycoproteins and your sly,

haphazard reproduction, your restraint

in your resistance, how you bathed so slight

yet fierce in our most intimate secretions.

We will remember you for generations;

electron micrographs of you seem quaint

already, in the moment of our victory.

How difficult it is to claim one’s right

to living honestly. The honesty

you taught was nothing quite as true


as death, but neither was it final. Yes,

we vanquished you, with latex, protease

inhibitors, a little common sense—

what’s that, you say? That some remain at risk?

How dare you try to threaten us again!

Of course, you’d like to make outrageous claims

that some behaviors haven’t changed, that some

have not had access to the drugs that mask

your presence in the body. Difficult

it is, how very sad, to see you strain

(no pun intended) at response—our quilts,

our bravest poetry, our deaths with grace


and dignity have put you in your place.

This elegy itself renounces you,

as from this consciousness you’ve been erased.

The love for you was very strong, the hot

pursuits so many of us reveled in—

but what once felt like love was really not.

I hardly know what I will find to hate

as much as I have loved and hated what

you brought to bear upon my verse, the weight

of your oppression and the joys of truth.

How difficult it is—to face the white

of nothingness, of clarity. We win!


Rafael Campo, “From ‘The Changing Face of AIDS’: ‘Elegy for the AIDS Virus’” from Diva, published by Duke University Press. Copyright © 1999 by Rafael Campo. Suggested to the Humanities Institute by Isabel Draper.