contagion requiem

wet market contagion

community spread

Li cries out

then silenced


empty streets in Wuhan

people inside

doors welded shut

how many died?

Xi lies

dictatorship and national pride

crematorium ash flies

the Devil is unbound

the world oblivious



priests consecrate the wine and bread

body and blood of Christ

only to be struck down, dead

the Horsemen have arrived

the job of Christ is no earthly saving

dead in the wards

dead in the hallways

bodies fill the churches

shipped to more-spacious churchyards nearer the Vatican

the conflagration spreads



oh, American decadence!

the stupid vanity of the trumped-up man

stupidly vain righteousness

impeach the man

impeach democracy

‘I win! I shine!’ — ‘You swine!’

a glorious circus all dressed up in right and wrong

interrupted by sweeping death

Emerald City sorrow, Gotham apocalypse

the dying comes and comes


machines breathing last breaths

saviors saving only to die

the big boss strips us naked

knocks us unconscious…

we awake in fits

to face reality and find solace as we can

but back to the circus we go

winning and losing, righting and wronging, shining and stinking up the joint 

what a show

death smiles

but the end is not yet written

3 thoughts on “contagion requiem

  1. I’m shocked. You wrote a poem? For one thing, I had no idea you had poetic talent. And besides that, aren’t you aware of the fact that “politics is not a poem”? I thought we read Against Democracy together. How could you have forgotten so elemental a fact about the world?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Still something of a work in progress. Kelly and I were marking Ruination Day, April 14 (this is from the pair of songs by Gillian Welch, April the 14th, Part 1 and April the 14th, Part 2). We were remarking on how Welch needed to rewrite the songs to somehow include the present tragedy (along with the Titanic sinking, the height of the Dust Bowl migration and Lincoln’s assassination) into the ennui-soaked vignette that ties together the April 14ths of her Part 1. Maybe she didn’t have anything better to do? Maybe we didn’t. However, soon after jotting down some ideas, I realized there was no good way for Welch, or anyone else, to do this. (Some songs you can add or subtract a verse from pretty readily. Not this one.) So I did something entirely different with the material. Here is Welch’s April the 14th Part 1:


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