By Robert Milby
Even Otzi had a Corona
-for the Iceman
The Iceman had a Corona;
Covid 19 BC version.
He had Lyme, sores, Consumption,
Bowel problems, and genital worts.
He herded sheep and stepped in shit,
breathed smoke in campfire emphysema.
Otzi, was sick from eating pork, and curing beef.
Went vegan in snow before alpine meadows prepared his Spring salads.
He had no tribal medical insurance,
for shamans worked overtime, during lean winter months.
He walked with an arrowhead stuck in his back.
In his isolation, he used dried herbs, made clothes, and ate the mushrooms
his parents had the nerve to prepare for the coming warmth.
Otzi wore the crown of survival, which makes our endless crying trivial.
Madame Defarge, Knitting; Madame Thénardier, Thieving
-for Dickens and Hugo
Madame Defarge, knitting, as the gendarme spy on people in the parks.
Madame Defarge, sewing masks for class-distancing; shrouds for pandemic’s remains.
Posted online—grim products’ commerce abounds—
behind the barricades, on street stones, and shops’ lots; scattered on the ground.
Over a century ago, wealthy liars wove the stories that covered bodies
on the home front, during and after the War.
Madame Thénardier—extorting, and changing ledgers to distract patrons at the inn—
charging upscale prices for retail vices.
Republics may fall, as monarchies may stall the inevitable,
by sending Freedom to the block: future food riots convening on the frontlines—
sharing several bullets in common, with bandits and beggars, equally covered.
Streets flooded with wine; food tossed onto trash heaps, but media soaks the minds.
Even if plagues dry up in the summer; if grief is an act of faith;
from urchin to worker; no cloth for the faces grown thin.
From farmer to gamin; from father to mother, it arrives.
No fanfare— but pests in the fields; it begins.
Masks will come off, in awe of old famine; pandemic’s next of kin.
I spent March, 2020 working with my nieces and nephews on home schooling/online, adjustments to learning. I also worked with the frightened and confused members of my local literary communities, via phone calls, email contacts and other social meetings, to assuage fears and help to provide information and hope. All while I was carrying out my typical daily writing, but focused diligently on poems dealing with the topic of the current, global crisis. These poems will appear in an upcoming volume, entitled: “Corona d’état: the Pandemic Poems”