The Only Way to Fight the Plague is Decency

Cyrus Cassells

(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!

Last updated September 26, 2022