I Fall In Love With A Plague Doctor


This is how it feels:

I fall in love with a plague doctor,
with the pockmarked face behind his mask,
the curve of his beak, his leather cloak;

spend quality time with my daughter,
paint rainbows, take her boredom to task
with a song and a dance, to invoke

the spirit of the blitz, the slaughter
of innocents and idiots: ask
who the applause is for, if the smoke

from chimneys, the cross daubed on my door,
are history homework; if a cask
of Spanish sherry, quaffed at the stroke

of midnight, behind walls of Usher,
chanting ring-a-rosey at the masque,
is a gothic fable, or what broke

my fevered crown.

                  He brings me leeches,
a straight razor and a bowl to catch
my blood; outside, the creak of cart wheels,

the nosegay scent of spice and peaches,
as the tallyman ferries a batch
of souls to the lime pits, as the keels

of cruise ships run aground on beaches
and a bat escapes each cargo hatch,
becomes a wolf and takes to its heels

in a vampire romance, which teaches
us to lock and bar our doors, to latch
our windows, trust isolation heals

when hymns and garlic fail, when breaches
of faith, of government guidelines, match
predicted curves: this is how it feels

to fall in love with a plague doctor.

© Mandrake 2020
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critique and comments welcome.
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4 months ago

Wow! This is truly brilliant stuff, John, very impressive. Excellent craftsmanship and imagination. The bat that becomes a wolf is particularly appropriate. What’s the form you’ve used here? It looks like two sets of Rimas Dissolutas with a concluding line that takes you back to the beginning. Is there a name for this, or is it another one of your inventions? If you’re at a loose end nowadays, I have a suggestion for you. Why not post your entire back catalogue on UKA? Seriously. If you have the time. You are a genuinely talented poet, of exactly the kind this… Read more »

4 months ago

I really liked this. An intriguing look at the present dilemma. Terrific. 🙂

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