A Masked Bawl

“The government can’t tell me what to do,”
she said, discarding contracts that the two
of them had made. “So, neither thus, can you
exact from it the self-same revenue,”

I mulled. “Nor then expect our government
to tax us citizens the right percent
of wages earned in order to prevent
or mitigate some grave event.

And why presume carousers at the wheel
of cars they’re driving with a speedster’s zeal
would slow up for a child when there’s no deal
in force embossed with legislative seal?

Why should I send my children out to fight
a war at their expense to underwrite
the privileges informing your delight?
For you’re not bound to offer me respite

concerning keeping a disease in check
that causes havoc bad as leathernecks
must face, or sailors on a warship’s deck?
Why should the government be at your beck

and call when hurricanes knock wires down,
and fires threaten houses in your town,
if hydrants are regarded with a frown,
when you need park your car to get around?

And why do nurses feel obliged to care
for COVID patients who refused to wear
the safety masks that otherwise would spare
those first responders one more cross to bear?

It’s clear that that they feel morally compelled
to tend to welshers who’ve with scorn withheld
the same concern for those unparalleled
in brooking pain so ours can be quelled.

So why should you be so surprised
if doctors warrant that you wear a mask
so that your bodies aren’t compromised
by COVID and our nurses put to task?”

“The plague is what it is,” naysayers bray,
who otherwise would wither with dismay
at all the corpses getting in their way,
if first responders took a holiday.

Frank De Canio was born and bred in New Jersey, and worked in New York for many years. He's been published in Danger, Pleiades, Genie, Write On!, Red Owl, Blue Unicorn, Ship of Fools, and Dissident Voice among others, He loves music from Bach to Amy Winehouse. Shakespeare is his consolation, writing his hobby. As poets, he likes Dylan Thomas, Allen Ginsberg, and Sylvia Plath. He also attends a Café Philo every other week in Lower Manhattan. Read other articles by Frank.