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Pathogen Rampage

by Jennifer Dotson

The television doesn’t work anymore

but the news anchor’s stricken face

lingers in our mind as she announced

the station’s final broadcast because

the pandemic was destroying

everything and everyone.


The first days as the disease touched

down on U.S. soil with the return of

weary health workers from the shores

of Death the future was still before us.

Then mobs shouted Quarantine and

Containment. The government set up

shelters and field hospitals which were

quickly consumed as the streets filled

with bodies and blood spreading

infection. Scientists couldn’t discover

a cure for the pathogen rampage.


Now we wait holding hands in the

shadows. I wish for the sudden certainty

and quick end that Pompeii’s people

knew. We could be that couple

buried in smoke and ash. Our bodies’

intimate embrace creating a void

for future archeologists to make

plaster molds inspiring others with

our passion in spite of pending Death.

But the fever is in our bloodstream

carving out voids in our insides, in our

DNA and our skin is become paper thin

that too much touch is too hard to bear.

Just the press of hot palms and

fingers as we shake and shiver

parched and waiting for oblivion.

We do not wish to be alone when

the End arrives.

Jennifer Dotson is the founder and program coordinator for Her debut collection, Clever Gretel, received the Journal of Modern Poetry First Book Award and was published by Chicago Poetry Press in 2013. Her poems have been published in After Hours, East on Central, Exact Change Only, and Poetry CRAM/Journal of Modern Poetry. 

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