I started off scared, and I’m still scared. My husband is a physician. My sister is a nurse. I’m scared for their health and safety as well as that of other family and friends. I’m scared for my children as we continue to social distance and stay home. I’m scared for everyone dealing with the coronavirus and COVID-19.

But I’m also angry, angrier than I’ve been in a long time. I’m angry about the sheer ineptitude of and lack of guidance and support from our federal government. There are good people trying to do good work, and it seems almost daily, a higher-up has to step in and thwart that good work with their lies and ego.

Anyway.

I’ve been using our exercise bike, playing loads of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, sitting on our back deck when the weather is nice, and making homemade masks to cope with my anger. This morning, though, I awoke with a poem lodged squarely in my brain. An angry poem that I had to write down. Because it’s just one more way I can appropriately cope with gestures at the world.

Did I say it was an angry poem? You’ve been warned.

Also, Content Warnings for mentions of death, illness, and rapists. I do not mince words.

#

And Those Who Survived Will Remember

Copyright (c) by Amanda Cook, 2020

The despot king—

Who did not gain his throne

By right,

But through blustering from his podium

With his serpent’s tongue

Coiling venom into

The hearts of the desperate and oblivious,

His cries of “Her emails!”

And “The caravans are coming, full of rapists

And murderers!”

And “I will make the kingdom great again!”

Echoing across the land—

This despot king

Smiled from his podium throne

As his loyal trolls,

In their stockpiled arsenals and basement lairs,

And his faithful heralds—

Those greedy to have his ear—

Scattered his vitriol across the land,

Shouting down those

Who would rebel against their hatred,

Those with the fewest rights

The fewest

Freedoms.

His trolls and his heralds,

With the despot king’s

indulgent protection,

Shouted, “You should shut up and

Let the king do his job.”

They spread the despot king’s pronouncements

Throughout the land,

That whosoever denounced the despot king

Deserved to be jailed

Or worse.

Their freedoms lost.

Their life,

Liberty,

And pursuit of happiness

Stolen,

For thinking such ill will

Toward their “Great Leader.”

#

And lo,

It came to pass

That a plague fell upon the land,

A silent plague

That snaked through the kingdom.

An invisible dragon,

Slipping its smoky breath

Around throats

And into lungs,

Leaving the despot king’s people

Gasping

For air.

For life.

For justice.

The kingdom’s bravest healers

And knights

Rushed into battle

With too few weapons between them

To vanquish the mysterious,

Unforeseen threat.

And the kingdom’s mayors

And truth tellers

Rushed to the despot king for guidance

As his sycophantic advisers

Stood behind him

With their grim smiles.

And the people pleaded to him,

“Do something!

Anything!”

To stop the spread of the plague.

And, at first,

The despot king did

Nothing.

“It’s a hoax, perpetrated by those who despise me.”

And then,

When he could not ignore

The insidiousness

Of the plague:

“It will be over in a month.”

And then,

When he could not ignore

The rising infection rate and

Death toll,

The mayors and the truth tellers confronted him

Again

And

Again.

They asked the most trusted

Of the kingdom’s healers

His thoughts on

An unproven miracle cure,

Touted by the despot king himself.

The despot king leapt to his

Podium of lies once more

Before the healer

Could speak.

“He already answered that question, didn’t he?

Like fifteen times.”

And the most trusted of healers in the land

Was made silent.

And the mayors and truth tellers

Were bullied

And mocked by the despot king.

And the plague ravaged on

Until a suitable treatment was discovered.

#

When the healers

And knights had finished

Sacrificing their lives—

Those who survived

Left battle scarred

And weeping—

And the grave diggers

Had dug the last of

The trenches into which

The bodies

Of the fallen

Were dumped

With no burial rites to speak of

And the people were left numb and shaking,

Starving from malnutrition

And grief

And the lack of empathy they so deserved,

The despot king,

From his palm tree lined palace

With his sycophants stood around him,

Looked down upon his

Ruin of a kingdom

And grinned to himself

And said,

“What a terrific job I did.

No one could have done a better job than

Me.”

#

Thanks for reading.

A. Cook

Amanda Cook is a stay-at-home-mom and writer living in the rolling hills of southern Indiana. When she’s not caring for her family or obsessing over punctuation, she can be found helping out at her sons' school, catching up on her Goodreads list, playing (and sometimes winning, but mostly losing) board games with her friends, crying over her favorite PBS programs, or sewing yet another costume for the local gaming/pop culture convention, where she’ll probably lose at even more board games. Her second novel, "When We Were Forgotten," is the winner of the 2018 Bronze Medal for Best Sci-fi/Fantasy/Horror E-Book from the Independent Publisher Book (IPPY) Awards.

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