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Saturday, February 29, 2020


by Mary K O’Melveny

When dispersed, dandelion seed heads, also known as “blowballs,” can travel vast distances due to a unique morphology of the pappus, a fine hair-like material which holds the spherical seed heads and enables their wind-aided dispersal.  The pappus adapts, based on wind or air moisture, closing its plume of seeds until optimal conditions for maximum dispersal and germination occur.  

the metaphor seems right
too obvious of course
as arenas fill up with 
chanting shrieking clapping
sounds of sickness  backbeats
to our long agony

everyone in MAGA
hats or face masks   Look
to your right or your left
infection will arrive
like a dandelion’s
pappus as it sails off

carried by wind to new
meadows,  gliding down like
wartime propaganda 
hoping for fallow fields
and willing minds   there is 
no ripcord    just free fall

furtive looks  yield nothing
no obvious symptoms
everyone could carry
these germs    no one will tell
truths   everyone will shift
blame   new tears will be shed 

you cannot lock us all
up   cannot invent a
failsafe test   find a cure
hiding inside some lab 
mouse   even if we steal
back money from builders

of walls a plague still looms
dress up in your white coats
smile at your neighbors who
are about to lock their 
doors so you can’t enter
wash your hands one more time

then beg them for mercy
show them how your face mask
can repel each viral 
blast better than theirs  
tell them you have never 
seen a hot zone or helped 

a victim    promise you will
never argue about
anything important
won’t blow any whistles
tell them you are grateful 
you will not doubt again

Mary K O'Melveny is a recently retired labor rights attorney who lives in Washington DC and Woodstock NY.  Her work has appeared in various print and on-line journals. Her first poetry chapbook A Woman of a Certain Age is available from Finishing Line Press. Mary’s poetry collection Merging Star Hypotheses was published by Finishing Line Press in January, 2020.