Quarantine Days

I woke and went out to my balcony
to smoke a cigarette with my asthmatic lungs—
I saw in the stretching distance something smog-like,
something not made of clouds cast over my town.
Later I received a text message
from my sister telling me that tomorrow the EPA
has issued a ‘Code Orange’ (always bad luck colorwise)
for my town and surrounding areas,
which means that there is a concentration of air pollution
set to descend upon the Susquehanna region—

we’ve truly turned this world
into a Kingdom of Manmade Chemicals.
This cross-section of Routes 83, 81 and I-95,
heavy volumes of diesel particles from eighteen wheelers
stay trapped in the valley, settling down to ground level
to be inhaled by newborns and asthmatics and the elderly.
“Stay inside,” they are saying over and over—
these manmade mangles of the Earth that we live upon
are falling apart at the seams—soon enough,
they’ll be selling canned oxygen at the grocery store.

Heath Brougher is the Editor-in-Chief of Concrete Mist Press and co-poetry editor of Into the Void, winner of the 2017 and 2018 Saboteur Awards for Best Magazine. He received Taj Mahal Review’s 2018 Poet of the Year Award and is a multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. He was recently awarded the 2020 Wakefield Prize for Poetry. He has published 11 books and, after spending over two years editing the work of others, is ready to get back into the creative driver seat. He has four books forthcoming in 2022. Read other articles by Heath.