Pathogen, by Bob Beagrie

“Thy subjects blood
With fire and sword
Cries vengeance Lord.”

Parliamentarian motto from ‘The Great Eclipse of the Sun’, 1644.

“Hate begets hate;
violence begets violence;
toughness begets a greater toughness.”

Dr Martin Luther King, 1958

 

like someone forgot to turn the key, shoot the bolt,
guard the cage door and now its loose, running wild,
raging on pent-up retribution for its incarceration;
not hiding in the undergrowth, a hole in the ground
but behind a look, beneath a word, within a promise
travelling in a crowd forming clusters along chains
of transmission, hitchhiking on breath and bodily fluids,
a stowaway in an attitude, an illegal immigrant riding
the virulent fear of itself gone viral, breaking-out
with a swelling of symptoms: the sharpened accusations
of ‘susceptibles’, slammed doors, raised voices, dog shit
through the letter box, broken windows, burning homes,
a contagion of tears, smoking guns, targeted spot-checks,
round-ups, stretched necks, tightening nooses; spreading
its invisible infection from host to vulnerable host
through mounted charges, routs, panicked retreats,
infiltrating the blood, penetrating the lymph node,
concealed there, trafficking pathways of incubation
through dendritic and monocyte cells; the brain’s
blockades breached, the heart besieged, kinship ties
in tatters, trust a looted keepsake; corrupting all it
touches, draining its juices, carts piled with cadavers –
Bring out your dead!
Bring out your dead!
Bring out your dead!

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