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One Hundred Years Ago, a poem by Henry Ahrens

One Hundred Years Ago
by Henry Ahrens

The government mail wagon,
like an upright coffin,
brought influenza to our town
one hundred years ago.

We couldn’t hold our breath
forever, the will to live brought death,
a gurgling gasping for air,
no relief anywhere,
hospitals with winding sheets white
and toe tags for patients to die,
vaccines grasping and no more effective
than garlic sacks around our necks.

October came full fear of fall,
steam shovels dug trenches for all,
a mound of corpses deep in ground,
one hundred years ago.

Henry Ahrens attended St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Indiana, but now resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he teaches a variety of high school English classes. His works have appeared in From the Edge of the Prairie, Tipton Poetry Journal, and Indiana Voice Journal.