Sunday, May 10, 2020

Poem During the Plague: Poem 36

Carolynn Kingyens lives in NYC with her beautiful family. Her poems have been featured in Boxcar, Word Riot, The Potomac, Glass Poetry Journal, Schuylkill Valley Journal, and her poem, Washing Dishes, was nominated for Best New Poets by Silent Press.


I remember the big top –
the big, white tent
we could eye
from as far
as Knights Road;
me in the middle seat
of my father’s black, 70’s Buick,
on the lap of one
of my older siblings –
a hard stop
away from going
through the windshield.

The big top had been
a mirage though –
No circus.
No bag of peanuts.
No fire-eaters.
No pungent smell
of elephant dung.

Instead this big top
was erected for Northeast 
tent-revival –
some of that old time religion;
to induce the fear of God;
shake up the complacent life.

I still recall
those scary sermons
on the plagues –
the loud locusts;
the bloody Nile;
the death of Egypt’s
beloved, first-born sons,
including Pharaoh’s own.

On the last night,
the preacher’s sermon
turned to the plagues
to come, “end times” –
Wars and rumors of wars.

As in the days of Noah.

40 years after the big top revival,
and 102 years after the Spanish flu,
COVID-19 plagues the planet
like an ominous shadow
in the shadows.

People are dying alone.

People are slowly drowning
from a build-up of fluid
in their lungs,
an immune response
called ‘cytokine storm.’

People are dying horrible deaths.

I see no big top in the distance,
only white, refrigerated trucks 
and the vultures circling above –
this time, it’s no mirage. 

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