As a consequence of leaning too far to the right
for a discrete sip of wine (more of a slug actually)
it takes the wrong path and results in a coughing fit,
one of those almost serious ones that disrupts
our Zoom critique group, a few of the boxed faces
(the moms mostly) leaning to express concern,
asking if I am all right, their voices rising
when I remain out of frame trying to compose
myself after embarrassing myself.
All because I’m one of those Americans
who must have derived from the Puritans
since we don’t think we should be seen drinking.
Well, at least in photographs or videos.
And in that moment of most dramatic convulsions
I’m worrying (some because I was once an EMT)
that this event could go badly, trachea blockage
and I will forever be remembered as the poor fool
who died in the pandemic from a self-inflicted wound
(or perhaps one could say it was friendly fire)
rather than the wee virus itself, a fate reminiscent
of Lord Byron’s who, having heroically gone
to defend dear Greece, breathed his last
in a hospital not in battle. But at least he had a fever.
Rupert Fike’s second collection of poems, Hello the House, was named amed one of the “Books All Georgians Should Read, 2018” by The Georgia Center for the Book. It also won the Haas Poetry Prize from Snake Nation Press. He was named Finalist as Georgia Author of the Year after the publication of his first collection, Lotus Buffet (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2011). His stories and poems have appeared in The Southern Poetry Review, Scalawag Magazine, The Georgetown Review, A&U America’s AIDS Magazine, The Flannery O’Connor Review, The Buddhist Poetry Review, The Cortland Review, Natural Bridge, and others. He has a poem inscribed in a downtown Atlanta plaza, and his non-fiction, Voices from The Farm, examines life on a 1970s spiritual commune.