'Body Count: Fourth of July 2020' by poet Cassandra Dallett
Cassandra Dallett lives in Oakland CA. Cassandra has published multiple chapbooks and full-length books of poetry, (two of which On Sunday, A Finch and Collapse both on Nomadic Press, were nominated for CA Book awards.) She has been nominated for six Pushcart Prizes and was recently in the running for Oakland’s first Poet Laureate, Cassandra has graced many stages, hosts the weekly writing workshop ONTWOSIX, is co-host of the quarterly-themed reading series MoonDrop Productions, host of The Badass Bookworm Podcast, and The Badass Bookworm’s Lit Loft. Her most recent book of poetry, A Pretty Little Wilderness came out on Be About It Press June of 2020.
Body Count: Fourth of July2020
The days are marked with death tolls infection rates
blazing red states
and a barrage of bomb-like fireworks.
San Quentin has over a thousand infected just over three thousand imprisoned there the infection comes out of the same prison my boyfriend moved from
he was in a dorm of medically compromised mostly older prisoners
many of them are dead now
or on the brink.
People want to move on to unmask to congregate we all do
but the reasoning
or lack of
the conspiracy theories
ignoring the rest of the world.
We medical professionals
have relied on masks and gloves against death
our whole work lives
we are called fearful and foolish
My heart is pinballing around my chest the street outside exploding
with my nervous system.
In the prison he was moved to
they can only guess
at contact tracing
at cells and gyms made into makeshift morgues who will have access to ventilators
when the time comes
if they will go to hospital at all
the guards won’t wear face masks
they come and go from the outside world get in your face and
nobody cares Except,
those of us
who need them like oxygen
who wait impatiently for word each day write letters, whisper prayers
that they can shelter
in the places
where they belong.
That they come home where they belong.
where you belong.