Don’t, Please, Don’t!

The Police, I think about them all the time these days.
This morning I’m standing in Starbucks,
where they’ve removed the social distance dots on the floor,
like last year’s fad now faded and forgotten in old dot heaven.
Behind me this guy moves uncomfortably close,
a lonesome sardine trying to pack up tight to me.
I’m keeping my distance from the woman in front,
me a wild sardine still swimming virus-free,
but what’s a fish fighting to keep out of the olive oil to do?
I could politely ask this guy to step back,
but what am I, the covid cop?
Bring back the dots. Make them permanent.
Like me with masks now: Until death do us part.
Well, at least me and my shadow are both wearing masks.

But now promise you won’t be jealous, okay?
I go to Safeway, am waiting to check out, and this family,
dad, mom, and two teenage kids, press up behind me.
Like bad bank robbers having planned poorly,
they wear no masks, and I’m thinking,
Did management remove the door signs saying masks are required?
So the dad is right behind me examining my hair follicles.
I’m wishing I had a cart so I could stand in front of it,
keep it between me and him like the Great Wall of China.
I feel like I’m making four new friends
who could draw a map of my fillings from memory.
I told you you’d be jealous, right?
Just as I’m wondering if the dad’s about to administer mouth-to-mouth,
the store security guard comes over and tells
these four horsemen of the apocalypse
they need to wear their masks.
The Red Sea may not have been parted,
but the Red Death had suffered a setback.

Every time I’m in lines of any kind nowadays,
those lyrics run through my head, over and over,
an ear-worm I can’t kill, so I’ve adopted it as my personal anthem:
Don’t stand, don’t stand so, don’t stand so close to me.


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