Ode To a Cough

By Carol Chalk


Oh cough, that small expression of relief,
an echo of congestion in the throat.
A hack, ahem, that passes through our teeth,
Emotion swells a lump that I may choke.
What calls thy siren to my attention.
A blockage thus, of phlegm, a chesty rasp,
or narrowing of passage void of breath
the air about you holds itself agasp
I fear you are brought into contention
and brought about a certain kind of dearth.

A cuckoo lays an egg within your nest
and harbours you a master of disguise.
You tickle and tease, leaving me to guess
the nature of your lyrical reprise
To fear or not I ask you to discern.
They flee, they flee, at what you may become.
Such power, I can only show respect
lying low, to elude your stealthy roam.
Who are thee to show such little concern
to all the lives you wittingly infect.

Your path floats on an air of discernment
moving forward a mutant in our midst
That begs me to doff my hat, your servant
and smell the poisoned scent that you have kissed.
Are you thus a never ending terror
What distance do you give for me to make
Will your repertoire ever be enough
The future holds such chances there to take
I cannot hide my face from you forever
Because sometimes we cough, sometimes we cough

My name is Carol Chalk.  I was born in Broad Chalke, Wiltshire in 1963 where I spent the first quarter century of my life.  Since then I have lived in various parts of England, including Hampshire, Cornwall, Middlesex, Surrey and Dorset.  I now live in South East London.   


I dedicated my poem to the cough because it was the first symptom that was focused upon at the start of the pandemic. The cough is significant to several conditions and could possibly be linked to past pandemics as a symptom.  A natural reflex that we all do that could have severe consequences. 

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