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Monday, August 10, 2020


by Philip C. Kolin

Corona is a cruel landlord taking over people's bodies,
cancelling their lease on life and throwing them out

of their hovels and apartments, as many as
40 million this year. How can they pay back

rent when they have no jobs. Corona profiteers
hide their eyes and close their hearts and hands

as the least of these, many Latin strangers in
a strange land, become street people overnight.

Portfolioers like death-grip Mitch advise the evicted
to declare bankruptcy, the easiest way to go.

It begins with a knock, a summons,  and ends with  a padlock.
All their belongings packed in black plastic bags

for the trip to the curb. But how can you put sheets
over the pavement or where can you hang

clothes or curtains. Will the post office deliver
to an address that has no address.

Their only furniture a donated  empty
box  used to ship a refrigerator;

passers-by glibly say these outcasts should
be grateful that America has donated the air

fouled corona air, too, they can't get with such abundance
in their own country. Some wait outside funeral parlors

for a vacancy, or sneak into a post office
to bring back some heat in a blanket

to a child or a wife too sick to walk.
The street becomes their hospital, too.

Ambulances rushing by the only medical
care they will get all night.

Other desalojos crowd into a friend's already
crowded apt. setting up households in a hallway

or sharing a bedroom with four generations,
the best housing arrangement for Corona

to spread. Shelters, too, are welcoming centers
for Corona tenants packed face to face, coughs

and sneezes in lieu of rent. Corona quips
it never evicts anyone. Everyone's lungs are welcome.

Philip C. Kolin is the Distinguished Professor of English (Emeritus) and Editor Emeritus of the Southern Quarterly at the University of Southern Mississippi. He has published more than 40 books on Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, African American playwrights as well as ten collections of poems. His most recent books are Reaching Forever: Poems in the Poiema Series of Cascade Books and, forthcoming from Main Street Rag, Delta Tears.