“Dispatch from a Pandemic: Charleston, West Virginia” by Ace Boggess

NOAA Photo Library

News Sickness

CNN stays on all day
as if I dropped the remote,
shattered it, & am too depressed
to walk across the room to the TV.

Easy to obsess over numbers
like working a giant Sudoku
in my head. In my head,
I see every cough, each corpse, &
all the rotting hallways
of improvised morgues.

There was another spike
today, another sad story.
People died. A lot of people died,
alone on the rack, crushed &
punctured in the iron maiden.
Did I know them? No.
Their deaths were news
if not noteworthy,
more skips of a stone
across the surface of a river
on its way to here.

I can’t stop rubbernecking,
staring down catastrophes.

Last night in Arkansas,
a tornado touched down,
filmed from all angles,
beautiful & cruel, a normal
disaster. I don’t have time for this.

                          –March 29, 2020


Ace Boggess photo

Ace Boggess is author of five books of poetry—Misadventure, I Have Lost the Art of Dreaming It So, Ultra Deep Field, The Prisoners, and The Beautiful Girl Whose Wish Was Not Fulfilled—as well the novels States of Mercy and A Song Without a Melody. His writing appears in Notre Dame Review, The Laurel Review, River Styx, Rhino, North Dakota Quarterly, and other journals. He received a fellowship from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts and spent five years in a West Virginia prison. ACM previously published his poetry.