St. Monica Contemplates a Harm Reduction Strategy By Gaetan Sgro

St. Monica Contemplates a Harm Reduction Strategy

Remember when you were young, Auggie
When Uncle Carl would unscrew the jug of Paisano

And dose all the little cousins
With wine to chase their milk?

Remember when you used to stand behind the counter
At Claudio’s how all the other mothers would stumble

Stuck on your blue eyes, black hair
Immaculate fingernails?

Remember all those nights you didn’t come home
Mornings I flew with eyes pressed closed to light another candle?

I know I should have looked—
But I didn’t want to find you

Curled up at the feet of some angel
Your veins bared and froze.

Now they want to bring you in, serve up Grace
Clean needles and a bowl of pasta e fagioli.

I always believed it takes a village but I fear
This thing may be the death of us both.


Gaetan Sgro is an internal medicine doctor, “girl dad,” and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine where he directs a program in the medical humanities. His poems have appeared in The Bellevue Literary Review, Glass: Poet’s Resist, Blueline, The Healing Muse, Apiary Magazine, Annals of Internal Medicine, JAMA, Best New Poets 2016, and other fine publications.

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