Need to eat to keep up my strength
Headlines stick in my throat
Lice in Farmed Salmon
Global Warming, Swine Flu, Food Crises
I push away the spinach salad
I put down my Odwalla smoothie
or should I think half full?
Negativity my intractable symptom.
Popeye’s biceps deflate
suddenly an old man with batwings
The E coli adopt jack-o-lantern faces
as they race over autumn fields
where cows moo at closed chocolate factories
Syringes in the creamy centres, how salutary!
Virulence strokes me
gentler than Sick Witch.
Maybe I’ll take a bath.
Taint of anti-bacterial soap
new and improved germs goose pimple my skin
Maybe I’ll go to bed
Sheets stink of chemicals and bleach
I roll over, close my eyes
with every intake of my breath
people contract HIV
why can’t I sleep
die of SARS
Maybe I’ll count sheep even as
their lanolin festers
they sicken and die
bird flu mutates into something worse
false modesty and viruses in hands to hold
infection! pass it on!
drowning in new diseases
must each have a catchy acronym
to be considered real?
(ACH, Acquired Crystal Hurdle?)
AIDS now out in the open
not the careful makeup chancres
on Tom Hanks in Philadelphia
or Angels in America
would like an Emma Thompson nurse
don’t need her avenging angel
Sick Witch is enough with her corpse breath
now reeking vaguely of strawberry and salad
Bedside, she sluices her spinach-green hands and smiles
blood where her teeth meet gums
My sisters have been very busy
What sisters? The one from the East
–the SARS one?– she’s dead, right?
dropped house, Asian grave
and good Glinda couldn’t wouldn’t bring so much as a rosy rash, not frostbite, maybe chilblains with their small itch?
Who? Not more doubles? I’m too sick to do the math
like that Breck commercial about telling one friend and so on and so on until so many heads of hair filled the screen it looked like connect the dots into one blob of blackness
Sick Witch smiles but doesn’t answer.
I don’t need a bad angel to boot
my right toe twitches
a good sign
give Sickness the boot
as she already has my ruby red slippers
She holds them to her face and plays peekaboo
as if I’m a baby in a crib
angel as nurse
who is Sick Witch’s other?
what does she still want from me?
boots will lift me higher from the pooling waters
did I forget to drain the tub?
leave the taps on when scrubbing?
a small northern country floats by
the suds swell toxic
maybe hip waders?
how high are the heels
alter egos two by two
I am my own island, an ice floe
Sick Witch sings a dirge
with a chorus of similar voices
all off-key, all cackling
then the gibbering of winged monkeys
I see a jungle
it is very hot
my ice floe puddles
but I’m too late to lick the drops
I’m so small
down the drain
My hands grasp the side to hold on