Monday, March 16, 2015

Charles Rammelkamp


"We need a fence, a wall.
That'll keep the illegals out.
Electrified, with a skull-and-cross-bones warning.
Maybe a moat.
But what if they dig a tunnel?"

"A worker must have taken a shit
and then not washed his hands
before he went back to picking
the spinach or the sprouts,
or whatever it was spread the e-coli,
and now the whole world’s shaking
like a St. Vitus dance-a-thon.
No salads, no veggies, just bread and meat."

"The first birds flew in over Canada
on the Pacific jet stream.
The first cases showed up in Seattle;
the first fatality an old lady
with a heart problem, in Portland.
Then the pandemic spread eastward
like an ink stain seeping across a map."

This is where things began.
This is how they end.

Charles reads "Diseases Without Borders":

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Charles confesses: "When I went to Germany in 2011, an outbreak of e-coli made it inadvisable to eat vegetables. That's where this poem started, but I also used to work for the Social Security Administration, where we worked on many preemptive strategies for such things as Avian Flu, H1N1 (i.e.., swine flu) and other pandemics. Anthrax was another problem altogether. The title, of course, is a play on Doctors Without Borders, but it suggests the compounded problem of xenophobia such things bring with them—fear of the immigrant, the migrant laborer, the foreigner; they're often scapegoated when panic over the unknown arises, after all. Just one final word: ebola."

CHARLES RAMMELKAMP lives in Baltimore. His latest books are Fusen Bakudan (2012) from Time Being Books and Mixed Signals (2014) from Finishing Line Press. Charles edits an online literary journal called The Potomac.

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