- Pocketful of Posies
London, 1665. Bubonic plague rides
the greasy backs of flea-ridden rats,
an invading army no one will see
for another two centuries. Instead,
every dog and cat in the city is killed.
Houses of the infected are nailed shut,
entire families condemned to death,
blood-red crosses painted on the doors,
150,000 unanswered prayers:
Lord have mercy on us! Children chant
a jaded litany: Ring around the roses,
pocketful of posies, we all fall down dead.
Medical authorities insist
a nosegay of sweet blossoms
will keep away the poisoned air,
a bonfire of spiced herbs on every street
ward off the Angel of Death.
In the evening, gravediggers roll up
their carts to collect the bodies.
Two-thirds of London somehow survives.
No one bothers to ask why.
March 2020. Now that two centuries
of science have insulated us from Nature,
torn apart Earth’s body to steal and then
rewrite her secrets, we must find new ways
to keep the population down. Today’s
Angel of Death wears surgical gear
with military insignia, recombining genes
to create a bloodless victory
over democracy’s remains. Kinder,
gentler psychopaths salivate
over a new world order dominated
by the ever-present eye,
humans just another form of meat.
Facemasks and antisocial
distancing no more effective
than a pocketful of posies, the blind faith
technology will solve everything.
- Crowd Control
The rules are set to paradox, coercion and blind faith.
—Roy Harper, “The Game”
Special ops branch social engineers
brew mental toxins in tax haven
think tanks, spewing memes
like rubber bullets for 21st century
crowd control. An OCD Nation
of germophobes is the new abnormal—
projectile hand sanitizer
the new weapon of mass destruction
aimed at our own guts, that secret
garden of microbial soil working
invisibly to keep us alive, dreams
busy at their shadow work.
Gripping the sheets in my fever
of pandemic, the billionaire elite
coalesces into one body,
padded out like a hockey player
as I slam down blow after
useless blow, grab its gargoyle head
and try to gouge out its tongue
of twisted snakes, outgunned
by the sleeping armies of love.
- Shadow Work
People are torn and hurt because they’re sick of seeing Black men die. Constantly, over and over again. —Philonese Floyd on the death of his brother George Floyd by Minneapolis police May 28, 2020
“I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe!” Floyd
gasps, his larynx crushed, knee
to throat, as he mouths the mantra
of the coronavirus age. No more
To serve and protect, the doublespeak
slogan of occupying forces clad
in storm trooper gear bought at discount
in the Pentagon’s Boxing Day blowout.
Orwell’s nightmare of the future
a boot crushing a human face forever,
and that face is Black, Indigenous,
Poor, or anything else that resembles
the human shadow so desperately
feared by One Percent lackeys,
their Bilderberg bosses convinced
enough money and power will buy them
safety from the rabble. Just the cost
of doing business, they simper, as cities
ignite the globe in tear gas parades
of outrage, the smoldering guts
of austerity policies out in the open.
Concussion grenades explode trauma
on top of trauma, our collective eyes
burning in fountains of pepper spray.
No justice, no peace, chant protestors
outside the third precinct police station.
But this isn’t just about racism. It’s about
power—the beast that lurks in all of us.
Feed that animal love or all bets are off.
©2020 Sean Arthur Joyce