Diary of a Plague Year Parts 4–6

  1. The State of Resistance

Better to die on your feet than live on your knees.

—Midnight Oil, “Power and the Passion”


People hate the truth because its fire

demands that they feed the light

with their bones, not just their words,

those cheap things we scatter like confetti


or light like firecrackers on Chinese

New Year, staccato echoes popping

eardrums to scare away demons—truth

the only effective spell-breaker.


“I hate to say it,” she said,

“but my warrior suit is at the cleaners.”

“Mmmm… well…” sniffs the human rights hero,

“We might be able to help you with that $5,000 ticket.”


And I wonder—who, like me, can feel

the robotic hand clenching? The caging

of the human spirit by house arrest

top candidate for Crime of the Century.


In the distance, I hear the clank

of armies, hear the howl of Holocaust

ghosts, agonized, moaning:

“Not again! NO! Never again!”


Voices stuck on eternal rewind.


  1. Cashless



“I don’t think the virus can live on cash,”

I said, watching a nervous man buying groceries.

“No it lives on credit at three percent interest,”

he said with a chuckle. I laughed,


but couldn’t help feeling it was gallows humour,

jackboot-marching us into a future where

our homes are solitary confinement cells

with wall-to-wall movies. “It’s a future


that accepts no cash or credit cards,” warned

Naomi Klein, “where our every move is trackable

and traceable.” Today’s fascism marches not

in crisp black uniforms but invisibly,


in the antiseptic chains of ones and zeroes.

The great Beast of Revelations lurches

toward its global coup, the human spirit

a dandelion crushed beneath robotic boots.


Don’t underestimate that green insurgent.

We’ve seen it split open pavement, deploy

its yellow parasols on long milky necks

and carpet a dead field with new sunlight


on a morning untouched by death.


  1. Storm Year

The year crept in rainy

and feline, black as lung tar

as if you could feel the snarl

crouching in the hedges.


Now that we have banished demons

and angels, debunked water diviners

and spirit mediums, we are more afraid

than ever. Lived apart from the wild


too long to recall the sinuous

darkness we breathe awake.

But it’s not about us anymore,

if it ever was. Gaia is awake,


and unlike us, doesn’t discriminate.

All who tasted the banquet then shat out

plastic in my oceans, raided forests

for toilet paper or stripped mountains


to bare rock, all will feel me roar.

Your poor and your starving, your weak

and your powerful, all will feel me roar.

Do not dare close your ears to me.


I can feel the garden soil tense, waiting.


©2020 Sean Arthur Joyce

About seanarthurjoyce

I am a poet, journalist and author with a strong commitment to the environment and social justice. If anything, I have too many interests and too little time in a day to pursue them all. Film, poetry, literature, music, mythology, and history probably top the list. My musical interests lie firmly in rock and blues with a smattering of folk and world music. I consider myself lucky to have lived during the great flowering of modern rock music during its Golden Age in the late 1960s/early '70s. In poetry my major inspirations are Dylan Thomas, Rilke, Neruda and the early 20th century British/American poets: Auden, Eliot, Cummings. My preferred cinema includes the great French auteurs, Kirosawa, Orson Welles, and Film Noir. My preferred social causes are too numerous to mention but include banning GMOs, eliminating poverty (ha-ha), and a sane approach to forest conservation and resource extraction. Wish me—wish us all—luck on that one!
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