literature, the real world today

Poem: Lockdown


If you can tell lies, you must stay home.
If you can live your life, you must stop now.
If you want to free your heart, you must lock down.
And if you lock down, the mad doctors will not let you out.

If you can model numbers, you must derange hope
If you can wash your hands, you must follow the rules
If you can read a chart, you must make forecasts
Then deny they were predictions when they go wrong.

If you can cede control, you must give up
Follow the doctors orders
Make your way slowly through the queue
Comply. Distance. Hide. Shelter in their mistake.

The social police will hunt you down
Test you and trace each and every contact
Your dark blue tooth recognises
Then count your case to justify

An epidemiologist’s dream
That statistics can save the world.
That care matters less than rules.
That the public health crowd know the future.

One month they called us fools
For panic buying when the shelves were bare.
Do they countenance their own folly
When the whole world screamed at a mouse,

When our leaders fitted people to a sigmoid curve
Flattened the uncertainty of death
Relived the Spanish flu from their textbooks
First as tragedy, and then as farce.

Jeff Rich

Image Credit: Francisca Goya, Saturn Devouring His Children (1819-23), Museo del Prad, Madrid

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