For Whom the Death Tolls

You are told there is no pandemic.
You are told it’s all a hoax.
You are told it’s a deep state conspiracy.
Three thousand deaths here,
three thousand deaths there,
pretty soon you’re talking about real people.

And then you learn it will end in two weeks.
And then you learn testing is available for anyone.
And then you learn there’s enough ventilators and masks.
Five thousand deaths here,
five thousand deaths there,
pretty soon you’re talking about real people.

But you are assured it will be over by Memorial Day.
But you are assured that hydroxychloroquine is the magic elixir.
But you are assured the states can all reopen.
Ten thousand deaths here,
ten thousand deaths there,
pretty soon you’re talking about real people.

Surely you believe it will be over by summer.
Surely you believe drinking Lysol is the cure.
Surely you believe there will be no second wave.
Fifty thousand deaths here,
fifty thousand deaths there,
pretty soon you’re talking about real people.

Now you know all the health rules go too far.
Now you know about the government plot.
Now you cheer on the Neo-Nazi protestors.
One hundred thousand deaths here,
one hundred thousand deaths there,
pretty soon you’re talking about real people.

Intertwined in survival,
no one is an island, John Donne observed.
Do not ask for whom the death tolls.
It tolls for you.

The poetry of Thomas Wells has recently appeared in The Opiate Magazine, The Magnolia Review and Tuck Magazine. He also recently placed second in a Poetrysoup rhyming poetry contest. Over the decades, his poems have appeared in numerous small press magazines. He also published a chapbook in 1982 titled "Native Steel" through Black Buzzard Press. Read other articles by Thomas.