i am watching a virus ascend on a country,

live on television, like everything else

“a one in three chance of catching it” the newscaster says,

echoing the expert he has just interviewed,

the agony of those suffering reported third hand 

Men who live in crystalline houses busy themselves

making decisions for those in daub and wattle huts

assuring us that grace and health will prevail

“this sickness will not thrive!” They rasp

to fool after fool whose destiny is already clear

see, our lack of fortune was never just a flaw in timing,

but simply the system’s design

it turns out that the definition of wealth 

was never a question of who is trying the hardest

but instead who has the most access 

yet the best of America is always last in line – the heel of the bread –

those who stand at the checkout counter, at the bedside

who fulfilled requests from the Haves

stocked plundered shelves, braved the surge –

Essential 

after i scanned my body for symptoms hoping for no new revelation,

i put on my work shirt and stumbled out the door

at the behest of the rent that’s due in two days

knowing this totem around my neck

would be the only protection i would have 

you may hear the soft cadence of non-slip shoes and prayers

as we venture onward,

but there will be no singing.

because a broken system will filter away every song

and fortune does not always favor the brave


Kari Lynch is writes, teaches, and performs in North Texas.