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.

Burning the Journals by Susan McLean

Burning the Journals

Alixa shocked me when she said she’d burned
her journals. All those insights, lost. And yet
each time I’d kept a journal, I soon learned
someone had read it. Wary of the threat
of having candor peeled off like a scab,
exposing raw and stinging sores, I’d sworn
never to bare my secrets to the stab
of prying malice. I could not have borne
having each vagrant thought and wayward mood
viewed with amusement, prurience, or scorn,
like those whose webcams, hijacked, film them nude,
turning unguarded love to vengeful porn.
So now I light a match to every day,
and what I felt then, only I can say.

by Susan McLean

Editor’s Note: The speaker opens this sonnet as if it were a conversation with a friend who knows exactly who Alixa is… The reader becomes a friend, and thus the personal nature of the poem draws one inside the speaker’s ruminations.