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

Stock-selling senators,
Missing-in-action test-kits,

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, 
Brisk-as-business Death,

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.