Photography © Charles Rammelkamp


COVID Nightmare

Three hundred miles from home
our car breaks down,
a little red flashing light on the dashboard.
We coast into a rest area
where a loud group of people
sit crammed together at a picnic table,
eating sandwiches, drinking beer,
not a face mask in sight.

“Ain’t you gonna wash your hands, Clete?”
a mean-looking woman – Mama? – demands.

“Never washed ’em before.
Why should I start now?”

“Jenny? Jenny, are you there?”
my wife calls into her cellphone
to our daughter three states away,
like a medium at a séance
summoning a dead relative.

What can Jenny do to save us?
What can anybody do?

We can’t go home.
Workmen are renovating the bathroom,
a plan worked out months ago
to preserve social distance
while the labor took place.

We’re headed to a remote lake,
isolated in the woods,
the perfect place to quarantine.


Charles Rammelkamp is Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore and Reviews Editor for The Adirondack Review. A collection of poems about Rasputin and Russia in the 20th century, Catastroika, has just been published by Apprentice House, and another, Ugler Lee, is forthcoming from Kelsay Books.