The Only Way to Fight the Plague is Decency
(an American elegy)
Once upon a time there was a hoax,
A broadcast-to-the-hilt ruse, a puerile
Leader’s adamant refusal to rally arms
Against a colossal viral dragon,
A winter hustler’s fiat that bloomed,
One titanic, coffin-heavy April,
Into a real-as-your-mama’s-dying-hand
Pandemic: national melee, featuring
Mask-begging nurses, millionaire high fives,
& jerrybuilt morgues,
A storm-haired Lear’s flaccid sideshow,
A charlatan’s heedless, snake-oil matinee
(Hail the flimflamming functionary
& his red-handed band of rogues).
Land where all the poisonous hierarchies
Arrived to poison us once more—
Where raucous pettiness equaled rollcalling,
Equaled my crushed kingdom
For a ventilator!
Copyright © 2022 by Cyrus Cassells. From The World That the Shooter Left Us (Four Way Books, 2022). Used with permission of the author.