Might Have


It didn’t happen to you
It did happen to him
It might happen to us

You escaped because you left the house
Stayed home
Refused to go to work
Went to work, but kept apart
Propped open the window
Slammed the door
Didn’t take the subway

Your lover went for groceries
The pharmacist laughed too loud
Sent a cold so hot
He felt his skull might melt

Now when you walk
You startle hearing coughs
As others turn right
You rush left
Jump onto roadbeds
Stare at idling dogs
Look to the sky and curse

Contagions spark battles
Fought mutation by mutation
An ancient arms race that never abates
World wars between species infecting
Longer wars within them
Contaminating everything

Your friend got sniffles
Your sister the flu
Your brother a coffin
Who wins? You did
You’ve just enough fury to
Pick up this pen

Interview with the Virus


Virus, are you alive?
No. If you’re not alive, you can’t die.

What is your purpose? Why do you exist?
Your point is there is no point
And you are right

Yet you kill so many?
I kill few of the very many.

What is your measure of success?
Without measure.

Then why do what you do?
Evolution drives Intelligence.
What is not conscious can perform any act

What do you fear?
You will fear me, but I cannot fear.

Why kill so quickly?
Action is timeless
The act matters, not the clock.

Why attack so many species?
A million species, billions of safe homes
Infinity to you, immunity to me
Even if not alive I need to survive.

Why do you infect night and day?
If I fail a few seconds, I fail
You have not learned that. Yet.

Did you know people think you a vampire?
I do not devour you, you devour each other.

Why do you try to annihilate us?
Science fiction is your fear of science fact
Your terror of yourselves:
What you can do
You will.

What will replace you?
I’m only you talking to yourselves
You thought this could never happen

It had to happen
Like it always does 

It always does




Is this Sunday or Friday?
These days each day feels the same
Office, chair, window, curtains
Doppelgängers and look-alikes
So impressively like the real thing
Clothes once made the woman
Now it’s phones
Who we see is what we do

When you walk outside some
Move as if upside down
Feet waving in the breeze, eyes
Scanning the mud and drowned grass
A few tilt on the side while
Others slowly melt into sidewalks
Absorbed back into the earth
Searching for roots head first

I don’t know what to tell them
My hellos remain unanswered
But I wonder what it’s like
The rebel’s life underground
Organizing the voles and moles

It’s their form of protest:
I recall my former life
Want it back
Since that’s not possible
I will flow into the ground

I too wait for the finishing moment
The sharp second you know it’s ended
A future I know
Yet still can’t feel
Perhaps it’s where
I’ll find you

Surface Cleaning


I’d rather buff text than scrub a tub
This shower defeats me
Grey scum burrows into grout
Blasts of blistering acids
Can’t get all those bugs out
I prefer desks and sinks
Stainless steel I can bring to heel
Shining bright for up to a minute

The virus is a messy cleaner
At first she just cracks the surface
Sniffles, gunk, in and out
But next she goes real deep
Whitens brains, scorches hearts
Tickers turn time bombs
Then there’s that ground glass lung thing
Like trying to breathe through balsa

She, too, has her favorites
Old over young, fat above thin
She moves in and stays as long as she likes
As long as you may have
Some pols support her –
Fewer but better voters

She’s teaching me to deep deep clean
Scour and scrub and never stop
It’s a bit like love
What you can’t see can kill


Winter, NY


It’s not the cold I fear but what it brings
The sky lowers its curtain
Cleans streets emptier than my heart

Blank roads
Silent squares
No friends, no laughter, no music
Every hour is 4 AM
Birds do not stay
Twitch, twist, turn away
Smell the trackless fall of
Snow invisible, soft and wet
Creatures of air
Smaller than breath
Our sighs spirit their ships
To inner swamps of sea and mist
Where they hook their new home
Curdling blood and chilling bone
Freezing us in their embrace
Burning brains white
Those we love
Speed their rise
Our cool ends
I will pray for fresh stars
Constellations of spring
Stunning the clock to change its hour
We must still carve its hands
But they will mark a new time



Fred’s dad collapsed at the terminal
Trying to fly to his old boss’s funeral
Snow and viruses scrapped the flight
A heart attack cancelled the father

Others believed it was the airport food
A reheated pizza looking archeologic
Culled from deep frozen caves

I heard a simpler story:
He clutched his chest, coughed and cried out
A flight attendant dropped to the floor
CPR refreshed the week before
After her jaw nearly broken by a man wanting nuts

Exhausted and sweating she kept on pumping
But no defibrillator hung on the wall
Vanished to maintenance 

The new one eventually arrived
Buzzed, lit up, jerked and died
Just a bit before Fred’s dad

I visited the airport late that Saturday
The glassed-in departure lounge where he lay
No one would touch the body or pizza

For a second I saw his soul creep out
Green, short and blinking
Hovering above the empty seats
Still looking for its ride

I really wanted to help
But I can’t do that kind of CPR




I slice tongues, hundreds a day
Tasty when spiced
Easy to like cows, calm and peaceful
Like this rich land where everything grows

Corn towers like monuments
Golden yellow as the sun I can’t see
Land and sun feed the corn
Corn feeds the cows
The cows feed me

Now we’re sick but still must work
They claim it’s the law: National Defense
Yet this not our country
The state’s governor says
We’re not it’s people
Just like home

I’m coughing but must eat
My friend believes it’s the cows’ revenge
I can’t think them so cruel
They get killed like us

The virus is shaped like a crown
A crown will stand above my cross
Can the tongue of an ox speak through a man?

I will make an angry ghost
Carry my crown home
All across this land