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'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

it’s exhausting.

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.

Baby please

come home

where you belong.