Patrick Donnelly

Harm Reduction

An old grandfather with half-closed eyes and yellow beard

slumps early with drink on the steps of my clinic,

acting out his affliction under a marble arch.


Every excess leaves a scar–


If only he had chosen love for his addiction,

he might have drunk that cup to its secret,

sweet, muddy dregs again and again,

and kept his dignity before these passersby,

as I do, for a time.




“Harm Reduction” is from The Charge (Ausable Press, 2003).