The day we learned of the pandemic
we happily sang karaoke till 2 A.M.
And homeless yet slept on Broadway.
Beatrice made a batch of marmalade
from oranges picked off the ground.
Then people started swarming stores.
Be brave the talking heads urged but
many couldn’t marshal any fortitude.
The stock market took a frantic dive
as malevolent genies invaded the air.
Spring weather reduced cabin fever
for those bold enough to walk dogs.
Some fell back on poetry’s catharsis.
Masks worn as if it were Mardi Gras.
Kiss the cat and rock a baby to sleep.
The people slaves to a broken system.
Many prayed out of utter desperation.
We’d hang together yet remain apart
in the collective karma we dreamed.
Working overtime at the burger joint
they manned drive-through windows.
Memes citing trusted sources spread
rumors about touching door handles.
Climatic demise on the back burner,
woefully the senator tested positive.
Many prayed from utter desperation.
Pandemonium singed inverted souls.
Doctors grimaced as thousands died.
Some day we’d dither in our sorrow,
mindful how the magician Mandrake
taught what seems real is often bunk.
Thomas Piekarski is a former editor of the California State Poetry Quarterly. His poetry has appeared in numerous publications in the U.S. and abroad, including Taj Mahal Review, Poetry Quarterly, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Poetry Salzburg, and South African Literary Journal. He has published three books of poetry, the latest of which is Mercurial World (Cyberwit 2020).