Three Poems

By David Spicer


Red fog came months ago and may never leave
An unwanted guest it remains our focus

We’re focused on its unwanted presence
We struggle through it and can’t see it

We can’t see this valley of ghost roses
Red fog surrounds us with apathetic dread

The apathetic red fog doesn’t dread us
Red fog gives us fevers and makes us cough

If we cough with red fog fever we die
Red fog is everywhere in the world

We can’t escape the red fog’s everywhere
And red fog gives no signs of leaving

Red fog came months ago and hasn’t left
Red fog came months ago and may never leave

The Human Virus

I recall the day I caught the Coronavirus.
Lin knocked on the door of my recluse
duplex, asking if she could borrow some china
for her friends attending a party after their senior
prom. I said, Sure. How’s your term paper
on death row inmates living in isolation

coming along? She said, Making me feel isolated.
I have to write it by hand—a new Russian virus
crippled my computer and I’m out of paper.
I laughed, Well, that’ll make you a recluse,
won’t it? Lin said, Yep. Well, off to the senior
prom. Thanks for loaning me the china.

I never saw her smile again. She left for China
after feeling threatened, lonely, and isolated
when the principal blamed the class’s senior
prom for the local outbreak of the virus,
transforming the suburb into a town of recluses
who missed deliveries of their morning paper,

though residents snatched up Kroger’s toilet paper,
bottled water, hand sanitizer. And rice from China.
That hoarding didn’t bother me, an old recluse
from the boondocks. I’ve always isolated
myself from rumors about my past that turned viral
on the Internet or from being labeled a senior

hellraiser before I turned forty and suffered a senior
second when I began my novel on 300-pound paper.
I’m still writing it and titled it The Human Virus,
about a President who blamed eel eaters from China,
wanted his country to accept isolationism,
to transform every man, woman, and child into recluses,

a tactic doomed to fail because they weren’t reclusive
by nature, whether ill Spring Breakers or rowdy seniors
who didn’t act their ages. He separated them, isolated
them until they boycotted rice farms and toilet paper
factories. He denied blame, saved it for his old foe China,
because he’s the virus, a dark sun of a human virus

that’s transformed us into recluses collecting toilet paper,
whether we’re feisty seniors or children from China
who’ve isolated themselves from the Human Virus.

Happy Birthday in the Era of Covid

-for Joe Clift

Happy Birthday Brother Joe in virus time
Locked down with the world on your birthday

Your birthday presents aren’t locked down though
We’ll drive over if it’s raining viruses

We’ll drive in the rain through the virus
Streets should be empty as asphalt deserts

We’ll make good time in the deserted streets
When we arrive at your door we’ll leave the box

The box wrapped tighter than a locked door
After we knock you’ll come out and we’ll all wave

You’ll wave and we’ll wave then you’ll go back in
We’ll leave and you’ll stay and open your presents

If we could stay we’d watch you open presents
and sing Happy Birthday Joe in virus time

David Spicer has been nominated for 2 Pushcarts and 3 Best of the Nets. He’s had 700 poems published. His latest books are American Maniac and Confessional. His website is

I began writing duplex poems right as the pandemic began and the poems just flowed out of my head. It was then I knew I wanted to write a book of these, and I seemed possessed. “Pandemic” was one of the first, and I associated it with a fog that disoriented people. “Happy Birthday in the Era of Corona” resulted from our having to give up our tradition of going to a restaurant and having a night of fine dining to celebrate the birthday of a loved one. We could no longer do that, but instead would need to deliver take out from a selected restaurant. So we did that. “The Human Virus” is a narrative sestina discussing the various aspects of the pandemic, culminating in the identification of the real virus.

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Simona Carini
3 years ago

The poems look at the pandemic from 3 different perspectives: the personal/individual one, anxiety-laden; the socio-political one where everyday people get caught in power games and pay the prize; the persona/social one showing important relationships like a friendship are impacted. Well done, David!

Poetry and Covid-19 ARCHIVE (This website archives the over 1000 poems submitted by over 600 poets, and viewed by over 100,000 from over 125 countries during the Covid-19 pandemic, June 2020-June 2021). Thank you to all who took part in the Poetry and Covid project.

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