They were like creatures from
Defoe: passion players and peasants,
chess masters with no plans,
no boards to play on, yellow
hammered with fatal diseases,
jaundice colored eyes so polluted
everything they looked at died.
They were plague artists,
lepers without limbs, skin scaled
and withered, mummers without skits,
all of them tricked out with nowhere
They were masters of confusion,
exiled from courts, palaces, pilloried
in village squares: reviled, spit on,
and shunned once they were released,
red masqued and flushed by death.
They were daughters of Pandora,
sons of Oedipus, openers of locked
doors with dire Do Not Enter warnings,
drinkers of do not imbibe liquors,
potions that killed, or worse, allowed
you to survive.
They had yellow crosses painted
on their dwellings, signs that appeared
overnight as if by agencies unknown
to man, listened for the carts that came
in fog and smoke filled mornings,
those tumbrels, piled high with bodies,
and the hoarse voice of the cart man
calling everyone to bring out your dead
but no one ever answers, no one moves.