The Plague

They muzzle their breath,
Sealed in rooms as if in tombs,
Scared to death of death.



A Tale from the City

They’ve worn my patience very thin
So I wear my mask upon my chin
“Nose exposed!”, a stranger’s cry!
“Brains in chains!”, my swift reply!

I sneezed and hit her with a snot.
She fainted right there on the spot.



Joe Tessitore is a retired New York City resident and poet.

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27 Responses

  1. Mike Bryant

    Joe, your first sums up the situation perfectly.
    The second has me laughing… and Susan too.
    Our Texas governor has lifted the mask mandate. Stores still ask me if I’d like a mask. I have come up with about twenty responses. I’ve only been run out of one store. Their loss. Thanks.

  2. Gail

    I love it! There are a number of mountaineers and rock climbers among my acquaintance, so I know from them that many people who fall die of a heart attack before they hit the ground. “Brains in chains!” made me laugh. So true. So true.

  3. an'ya

    Great humor, Joe. Although I’m not against mask wearing for at-risk individuals, it’s beyond me that where we live in the harbor with lots of fresh air and virtually no people, why those who do venture down for a walk in the fresh air, wear masks when absolutely no one but the seagulls are around, an’ya

    PS: also the people who are driving their cars with masks on.

      • an'ya

        Them too Joe. Unfortunately, most people don’t understand how a virus even works, but thank goodness for poetry helping us get through these times!, thanks for the chuckle. an’ya

  4. Joseph S. Salemi

    Masks are being pushed solely as a sign of subservient obedience, very much like the pinch of incense at the imperial altar required by the Romans as a sign of loyalty to Caesar. In itself it means nothing, but if you don’t make the gesture you’re marked as a recalcitrant.

    • Joe Tessitore

      Something going on in the Apple, Joe.
      We were out and about yesterday and would guesstimate that some ten percent of passers by were either unmasked or wearing them on their chins!
      Hope springs … ?

      • Gail

        Only a few people in our neighborhood wear masks. It’s been beautiful out, so everyone’s out and about hobnobbing, walking dogs, puttering in their yards and garages. The children all play together and ride their bikes together–no masks. In a way, the pandemic has promoted a renewal of real neighborliness. Except at the two houses where Biden/Harris signs remain in the yards, very impolitic.

  5. Jeff Eardley

    Joe, we need humour these days and you have just given us a first dose. We await your next which will hopefully give us full immunity.
    Great stuff on a dark, cold and dreary day over here.

    • Margaret Coats

      Hey, that’s a double dose from American Joe and a booster from English Jeff. Imagine the havoc for record keepers!

      • Joe Tessitore

        No such thing as “havoc for record keepers” – these days, they just make things up.

    • Julian D. Woodruff

      Short and sweet, Mr. Tessitore. (OK, maybe a bit sour, but clearly appropriately so.)
      In Toronto, my son-in-law reports, a friend stood in line to enter a supermarket–one of 120 (!) by her count. She (American, as it happens) was the only one not masked. The scary question: what won’t people do?

  6. Sally Cook

    Dear Joe T. —
    You have both sense and sensibility, and I am sure that you can keep us from losing heart.

    • Joe Tessitore

      From one of today’s readings:
      “… for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith. Who indeed is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”
      John 5:1-6

  7. Yael

    Great poems to brighten my day, I love both of them. Short, sweet, funny and to the point. Definitely a hit-and-run.

  8. C.B. Anderson

    Joe, you should write advertisement copy — you would make a fortune!

    • Mike Bryant

      I agree, Joe T. will be successful wherever he decides to be. His poetry is certainly well received by you and me. Go JOE!!!

  9. Cynthia Erlandson

    Great stuff! Not only are they scared to death of death; it’s even sadder that they’re scared to live.

  10. David Watt

    Joe, your humorous pieces perfectly capture the absurdity of following
    random unscientific dictates. I will remember your ‘Brains in chains!’ the next time I see a dutifully masked couple driving on a country road.

  11. Enrico Falcone

    In the shadows of all that was
    I come here now just because

    Pandemic or war it’s all the same
    There is always someone else to blame

    You live or die it’s all ordained
    A million times it’s been explained

    My numbers up, I have to go
    Don’t look for me tomorrow


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