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Poem “Quarantines” by William Greenway



Imagine the media coverage

of the Black Death, whole

families boarded up to die inside,

the comic bring-out-your-dead carts,

cameras on location by the mass graves,

Shakespeare, the Globe closed,

Lear televised to the yokels.

Tired of YouTube, my bored daughter

draws over and over

stick figures with straw hair

like the thatch of the round

red hut in a boma,

outside whose prickly perimeter

patient lions pace.


from the Old French (first used 1617,

along with virulence, withoutdoors,

and highwayman)

The rest of us cower (cringe, grovel,

quail) inside, while out on the highway,

the hiccups (hiccoughs?) of Harleys

changing gears, flaunting

the bravado of bare faces.


A far-off murmuring

has been going all morning,

like a rumor

or maybe a mower

over a lawn with no end.

Or as if all our ears

are being held to the same shell.

Or maybe now we’re just

hearing it, the giant mosquito

that never bloats

on earth-blood, this buzz

of invisible things.

William Greenway’s Selected Poems won the 2014 FutureCycle Press Poetry Book of the Year Award. His 10th collection, Everywhere at Once (2008), won an Ohioana Poetry Book of the Year Award, as did his 8th , Ascending Order (2003), both from the University of Akron Press. His publications include Poetry, American Poetry Review, Georgia Review, Southern Review, Poetry Northwest, Shenandoah, and Prairie Schooner. He lives in Ephrata, PA.


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