“Dispatch from a Pandemic: Chicago” by Rochelle Robinson-Dukes

The Smoke Monster, Ben

corona samThis time all will suffer.  Chinatown will not have noodles; chopsticks shall be broken. Restaurants will become take-out spots that become food pantries, providing fancy meal kits Twenty-first Century MREs for the people. The poor will be separated into a 1950s tv dinner of color. Class will also join the party like a late guest.  Doctors will die; police officers will die; lawyers have died.  The middle class will slide into government lines for assistance like the rest of us; Central Park will become a tent city again. A month will become a year; a death will become a massacre.  You will become more cognizant of life’s monotony in quarantine, how we are so closely tethered to death in our sleep, how a pandemic can be set to loop. The world will watch the virus hula-hoop around its circumference, hopscotch across oceans to take lives like souvenirs.  This world tour will end, but the clean-up won’t.



Dr. Robinson-Dukes is an associate professor of English at Olive-Harvey College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago. She was named the Distinguished Professor for 2012-2013.  Her work has been published in African-American Review and In Other Words. She is the founder and editor of Brownstone Barrio Bards, a collection of works from South Side Chicago poets. She received the Chester Sipple Poetry Award from the American Association of Poets in 1991 and participated in Harvard University’s Women in Leadership Program in March 2015. Dr. Robinson-Dukes is vice president of the City Colleges Division of Cook County Teachers Union, Local 1600, and negotiates for the faculty, professional, and security bargaining units for the City Colleges of Chicago.