Virus as Metaphor. A poem by Nathanael O’Reilly

Here’s how to look your best on a webcam.
More Americans should probably wear
masks for protection. In this moment

of solitude, books can be our passport
capturing a world of emptiness.
Global cases pass 600,000.

These dogs ooze personal style. Strangers
in an empty dorm. Why is America
choosing mass unemployment? This is the fate

of an undocumented immigrant.
Cuomo dismisses Trump’s idea for N.Y.
region quarantine. It’s grim out there.

America stress-bought all the baby
chickens. Learn how to access the data,
the shock felt by millions of unemployed

Americans alone on the road.
Rational panic, but also rational
hope, when the mundane becomes heroic.

Virus as metaphor. It’s time to talk
about death, weaving a way out
of isolation. Death tolls in Europe

surge. Boris Johnson should have taken
his own medicine. Bob Dylan’s
seventeen-minute surprise. The Nordic

way to economic rescue. U.S.
enacts largest relief package
in modern history. What should you do

about your babysitter during
coronavirus? We have a lot
of ideas about what to read.

Some U.S. cities could have outbreaks worse
than Wuhan’s. Trump signs $2 Trillion Dollar
Bill. Crepes don’t have to be fancy to be

delicious. Courage inside a Brooklyn
hospital. You are your safest sex partner.
Turn the living room into a stage. Check

is in the mail? Head to the kitchen
and bake. What we can learn from European
dog culture. The perfect window

for a first impression. Be more productive
in seven days. Trump chooses disaster
as his re-election strategy.

We have lost it all. Romance is a scam.
Spring culture fell to virus. Clearly
many people are desperate to garden.

U.S. price gouging complaints surge amid
pandemic. Let’s kick coronavirus’s
ass. Now is the time to take care of your

lungs. Living near train tracks they survived
Spanish Flu, the Depression and the Holocaust.
Locked out of the virtual classroom. Take

the tidy home challenge. It’s too late
to avoid disaster. Your new social-
distancing workout. Can the restaurant

industry survive? Studies suggest
the virus can cross the placenta. Should
we stay or should we go? Bring in the robot

cleaners. Surging traffic is slowing down
our internet. Then the world turned upside
down in praise of a normal, boring country.

The Nordic way to economic
rescue. At least 3.28 million
Americans lost their job last week.

Listen to the argument. Uranus
ejected a giant plasma bubble
during Voyager 2’s visit.

In this emergency, mom knows best.
What’s the best fix for a recession?
A silent spring is saying something.

Seattle is living your corona-
virus future. NYPD has five
hundred coronavirus cases.

Virus costs university students
a rite of passage. I am hospitalized.
The fourth wall is my laptop screen.

Note: All text taken from the homepage of the New York Times online edition on March 28th, 2020.


Nathanael O’Reilly’s poems have appeared in journals and anthologies published in twelve countries, including Antipodes, Anthropocene, Australian Love Poems, Backstory, Cordite, FourW, FourXFour, Glasgow Review of Books, Headstuff, Marathon, Mascara, Postcolonial Text, Skylight 47, Snorkel, Tincture, Transnational Literature, Verity La and The Newcastle Poetry Prize Anthology 2017. His books include (Un)belonging (Recent Work Press, 2020), Preparations for Departure (UWAP Poetry, 2017), named one of the “2017 Books of the Year” in Australian Book Review, Cult (Ginninderra Press, 2016), Distance (Ginninderra Press, 2015), Suburban Exile (Picaro Press, 2011) and Symptoms of Homesickness (Picaro Press, 2010).

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