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The Sickness, a Poem by Paula Pivko

Updated: Feb 1, 2022

Third Place Winner of the "Vultures & Doves: Social Issues of Our Time" Poetry Competition.

I was up the first school day.

And my son never sets alarms.

But when I knock, he’s awake.

He drinks a coke and leaves with a bag

Of new supplies and hope.

What does he hope for?

Good grades? To stay awake in class?

A girl to smile at him? I don’t know.

On my Facebook there is a question,

“Are you afraid to go to Walmart?”

No, not that. But I still think of them.

Chicago. El Paso. Dayton. Parkland.

The school calls. That’s what I fear.

This could be the call to

Break me beyond hope.

They just want a meeting for

His Education Plan.

But still I know we are sick.

I hope for a cure.

It's faith I'm missing.

Faith that we can be cured.

I wait for some cosmic doctor to come.

Michael, glorious, with a flaming sword?

No, he will have a white coat, carry a black bag.

No need for theatrics.

I think he’ll say there’s no brain activity.

Pull the plug! Let’s perform the autopsy!

What killed the patient’s sanity?

I wait for the meteor to destroy

For the seas to rise, to drown,

For the heat to bring fever

That will burn the sickness that

Drives us to destroy, to deny, to argue.

To do nothing.

If it must kill us to heal so be it.

Whatever has to be done, do it!

Act. Scream. Write it!

Write it on the town walls if you must.

On my bedroom wall my son painted flowers.

It was my birthday.

He also wrote this: “I love you.”

People say, "You should cover that up.”

So, I bought paint. But I can’t do it.

I don’t think I ever can.

I hold onto this mustard seed.

An act of love.

It’s all I have to believe in.


Paula Pivko started writing poetry at the age of thirteen. She has been published in the Florida Writer’s Magazine and Teen Angst. Recently she started doing short stories which have been published on Reedsy. Paula also was a finalist in the 2020 RPLA awards for poetry from the Florida Writer’s Association. She lives in Port Saint Lucie, Fl with her two sons and works as an orthotist-prosthetist. It was through her career and her friends that she has learned what strength truly is.


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