notes from the plague year

Lives blew down the street.
Stars flickered out in the sky.
Moon and sun, both gone.

From minarets and cathedral domes, from penthouses and barns, from shacks and skyscrapers, the winds howled, packs hunting sparrows and hawks. Armies of the sea swept toward the shores on dark horses, brandishing ragged blades. Boats stood as still as houses, and houses leapt up from the earth, and all within the boats and houses trembled. They prayed to and cursed their gods, who answered them with mouths of open graveyards.

Smiles like resting doves.
Branches holding small candles.
Sunlight on moist grass.

Warriors of wisdom battled the storms. Sailors, in starched white and wrinkled powdery blue, rushed calmly across the decks with clipboards and hoses. Soldiers in foxholes told jokes about death. Pilots circled the carnage below them, eyes wide and steady, in search of safe places and battles to fight.

Indifferent stones
marched toward the black forest.
Stones, bright in the sky.

The end came in gargling moans, like lungs leaking blood up into the throat. Or it did not come, but growled close by, ripping at the skin of time. Or it passed with a bone-grin and a jaunty wave of the skeletal hand. Some of those it passed snarled at it, and some waved back. And the dawn opened over all of them, like a horror novel that they had to keep reading to find out what happened to them, to those around them.

Dew-stars on the grass.
A scream circling in the breeze.
Feathers fell like leaves.

            — JBMulligan, USA