Just In Time by Ken Poyner

Just In Time

Jerry was too macho to wear a mask.
Never been sick a day in his life,
Except for the tonsillectomy, two rounds
Of pneumonia, countless unremembered colds,
And the flu he caught from an anonymous girl
He slept with only once. Besides,
The President he adores says likely
The virus is a hoax; or, at worst, is getting better—
We have rounded the corner.

I asked
Which corner, but Jerry only laughed.

He noted some of my masks were blue,
Some white, one black, asking me
If I was having a hard time
Making up my mind, or developing
Fashion sense. You use what
You can find. Mocking, he said
He would not be caught dead in one,
He’d send other people in to do his
Business in places that required such
Silly and useless things. When caught,
He wasn’t wearing a mask.

The funeral was lightly attended.
I wore the black one.

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Ken Poyner’s latest collections of speculative poetry, Stone the Monsters, or Dance and Lessons From Lingering Houses, emerged in mid-2021, joining his other two collections of poetry, and four of flash fiction. See Barking Moose Press. He spent 33 years working in the information arts, and lives with his power-lifting wife, several rescue cats, and multiple betta fish in the lower right-hand corner of Virginia.

Image credit: Photograph of an Elmhurst University alumnus who has launched a fundraiser to sell university-branded facemasks [Office of Marketing and Communications]; the photograph was subsequently filtered using ToolWiz Photos.