Photography © Chad Parenteau


Long Haulers

The summer we died
gave birth to long haulers,
sleepless hallway walkers,
short of breath,
with no sense of taste or smell.

On rain-soaked nights
they’d emerge from their rooms
like earthworms hearing
the drumbeat call
to stretch upon the dirt.

They’d mill about the cafeteria,
stopping now and then
to tilt their head toward
the vending machine hum
as if hearing the voice of God.

While most returned to their beds,
an unnamed few would make it
to the hospital grounds,
their gowns recovered later
caked with mud.



When the pandemic struck,
the children were placed in pods,
in groups of five to seven,
to splash about and sing nonsense songs,
to circle round and round,
to breathe each other’s air
and not worry if they bumped
now and then.

After a while, the children
began to develop
a language of their own,
a series of high-pitched
hoots and hollers,
screams and squeals,
the occasional huffing of air,
and snot bubbles.

When another pod swam by,
the children were often seen
waving their appendages
and smiling distant smiles,
perhaps remembering a time,
when it was still safe
for all of them
to play together.


The Great Cat Massacre

When the pandemic struck,
it was reported that cats
could spread the virus.

Cat drop-off boxes
littered the city sidewalks,
with pick-ups on Sunday.

Cat bonfires were held,
despite town ordinances
against large gatherings.

Nightly cat vigils lit up parks,
where participants mewled
to the sound of plucked banjos.

It was unanimously agreed
that the sunsets were prettier,
due to the number of bonfires.

However, the smell of singed fur
lingered like fetid perfume
long after the cats were gone.


Kurt Newton’s poetry has appeared in Oddball Magazine, Global Poemic and Penumbric.

Chad Parenteau is Associate Editor of Oddball Magazine.