WIthout any warning, the disease
sweeps across the country
like a traveling circus.
People who were once blue,
who slouched from carrying
a bag of misery over one shoulder
are now clinically cheerful.
Symptoms include kind gestures,
a bouncy stride, a smile
bigger than a slice of canteloupe.
You pray that you will be infected,
hope a happy germ invades your body
and multiplies, spreading merriment
to all your major organs
like door-to-door Christmas carolers
until the virus finally reaches your heart:
that red house at the end of the block
where your deepest wishes reside,
where a dog howls behind a gate
every time that sorrow
pulls his hearse up the driveway.
Published in Free Lunch #23