My poem, Swine flu, was written at the height of the epidemic in 2010.
The writing of the poem was made all the easier by the hysteria surrounding the ailment. A government advice leaflet told people not to go out, but to get a neighbour to pick up their medicine for them; the poor neighbours were expendable it seemed. Those inflicted with the porky pestilence were advised to say off work, and amazingly, told not to go to the doctor’s surgery if they were showing symptoms, they could be diagnosed over the phone instead.
In the end, the poem virtually wrote itself. It took just under half an hour to write and that included a break to wipe coffee off the screen of my monitor after the Image of the Black Death, style door markings leapt into my mind.
A friend of mine felt rather poorly
so he rang up the doctor, who said,
'don't come round here to the surgery,
we'll diagnose you remotely instead.'
The doctor said, 'have you been coughing
and sneezing and feeling quite hot.'
My friend said, 'yes and I have a sore throat.'
the doc said, 'that's swine flu you've got.'
The doc said,' Do you have a neighbour
who can nip to the chemist for you?'
I'd better prescribe a bit extra,
because she'll need some of it too.'
He said, 'Stay inside for a fortnight,
don't go to work, call the boss.
We'll send someone round to nail up your door,
and mark it with a big cross.'
'If you or your partner should die there,
keep the body inside.
A cart will come round to collect it,
we don't charge, you'll get a free ride.'
'Those Tami flu pills, have some weird side effects.
They're worse than the illness, you know.
So if your nose is already running,
you may as well go with the flow.’