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.