As the climate freezes itself into cubes,
It strives to contain heated virus;
As dangerous breath breaks on windows
The splinters soon spear all those close.
From what was Chinese,
Now Canary Wharf issues warnings,
Quarantined in Kent, or approaching
These struck London towers,
The stark fears of such demote hope.
Perhaps the overseeing ‘Godforce’ has inhaled
Then blowjobbed back its protection,
As man ejaculates, frightened, the fluid release
Overspends. With chance of salvation
Withdrawn, or if not withdrawn,
Then diminished, sensation, truncated
Becomes the tremours and shakes fear extends.
What can be enjoyed? Breakfast? Lunch,
Or the supposed comforts of dinner,
Each one a potential last meal at this moment,
In which everyone who eats is condemned.
The title of this poem puns
On an old Bob Dylan number,
Just as it charts and minstrels the sly design
Of a sickness that has made the semblance
Of health, slick pretense. We are the dead.
No surprises there, let’s be honest,
But if we’re dying now from contagion,
Derived from cell, or lab, who defends?
Are there truly governments behind ours,
Actively plotting extinction, so as to enact
The last strumming of The Ballad of Man
As it ends? Will every singer grow hoarse,
And each larynx phantom? Will we rise as ghosts
From the barrel while still rolling on, towards doom?
Or are those unknown plotters in rooms
Hacking at themselves for fresh chapters,
In which our extinction, from cancer or this,
Calls the tune? People we know wish us dead,
Even if their actual names part escape us.
Perhaps there’s new language for the schemers
And finks we can’t see. The collaborators who break
Through the corrupted skin of spent cities,
Siring themselves to oppressors, and cashing us in,
Forcefully. The Corona arose with perfect timing,
With the shock of Trump and of Brexit
And the Australian burn in the bush.
It was as if Moses returned and looked to God
For expression, only to find that God smote
With locusts; now, will new first borns
Meet death’s hush? The masks allay mist,
Invisible, yet intrusive. On trains now and buses
We terrify ourselves through the seats.
But now even the masks have run out,
Dousing each protest song before singing,
Finally Science Fiction has made our facts
And day feel complete. We are in a horror comic,
Right now, or perhaps a ghost story.
With naturalism now legend, they will sing of us
In dark times, that will look to our own
As the progenitor of avoidance;
For we did not stop to question
And as cancelled Kings, lost our throne.
On a ruined path, aeons on,
A mutant Dylan squarks boldly;
His broken tone will rouse Angels
As they fall stunned from clouds:
David Erdos March 2nd 2020
Pic: Claire Palmer