Plague Song by Susan McLean

Plague Song

Trapped in a solitary dance
where means and ends refuse to meet,
the desolated body chants
its mantra: Eat. Excrete. Repeat.

Muzzled and shielded, we advance—
till someone nears, and we retreat.
We’ve rolled snake eyes: we’ve lost our chance,
our time, our lives, our salt, our sweet.

Exchanging sorrows with a glance,
we wave farewell like wind-blown wheat,
while vultures wheel the bald expanse
and wait to eat, excrete, repeat.

by Susan McLean

Editor’s Note: Iambic tetrameter trips through the lines of this poem, chillingly reminding the reader of the singsong cadence of Ring Around the Rosie, another plague song we can’t seem to forget.


3 responses to “Plague Song by Susan McLean”

  1. Ralph Culver Avatar
    Ralph Culver

    Terrific poem!

  2. jbkantor Avatar

    A perfect poem!!

  3. Martin Elster Avatar
    Martin Elster

    The more I read your poem, Susan, the more I get from it. The ominous mood is apparent throughout, but also subtle details like “lost our salt and sweet” hint at the fact that some people who contract the virus temporarily lose their sense of smell and taste. And the vultures are a great image to end the “song” with.

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