Three Poems on COVID-19

Sam Friedman

Their investors made a killing

All they wanted

was to make a living,

maybe enough for a vacation

away from China,

if that is where they lived

when they got their loan

whose cash traced back, back, back

to Morgan Stanley, or maybe to

Trump, or Gates, of Koch, or Bezos,

or maybe all of them.

Exotic foods seemed such a super investment,

a surefire


in the market.

So some Chinese family

earned their vacations

catching pangolins for fine dining,

pangolins to sell in the market, to make a profit,

their own private killing.

Boy, did they and their investors

make a killing,

as the world vacations from life

in these months of lockdown,

in these years of fear.



  1. The various financiers named are symbolic of capitalist investors and are not meant to imply that they did (or did not) indeed invest in this particular enterprise.
  2. Pangolins may have served as the intermediate hosts that transmitted the coronavirus to people and caused the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. At the time of this writing, scientists differ as to whether pangolins were the animal that served as the pathway from bats to humans. The pangolin, also known as a scaly anteater, is found in Asia and Africa.



Clean Hands?

As Palestinians prepare to

die by plague in Gaza,

and Israelis gird their guns

to help them do it,

we here in America sit helpless

in virally isolated homes.


We protest impending genocide

on-line. Perhaps our memes go


but our protests die deaths ignored

like those of Palestinians,

eclipsed by the hasbara

of Major Jewish Organizations

and the Israeli state

who show their hands

well-cleansed by washing

for even more than the 20 seconds

the media recommend.


Their hands glisten clean

like those of Turks a century before

or those of Vichy and their Polish brethren

who walled my people away.



“Hasbara” refers to the public relations efforts of Israel and its allies to portray Israeli actions, no matter how despicable they may seem to others, as good and just.



Where can they simply be?

Over years of walking

to and from this train station,

many homeless men and women

have become my friends,

a friendship seeded by many Abes,

but blossoming as we shared our ideas, shared our fears.


I worry about them

in these days of lockdown.

Where can they simply be all day

when stores and libraries

are open no more

and the rain pours down as cold as glares

and a virus may be blowing in the wind

from Dave to Laurie to Jimmy and then

to whom beyond?



“Abes” refers to five dollar bills, which have a picture of Abraham Lincoln on them.



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