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  • Dick Altman

From Her Occupation Diary


“Headed in a bad direction”:

Omicron variant may bring

second-largest US Covid wave

--The Guardian

Entry/July 20/2024

I’m numb. They’ve taken the baby

for what they call “possible retooling”.

There are rumors. But no one in authority

can tell me what that means. I’ve been

in camp three months now, in a barbed

wire compound, waiting. Men without

shirts, Vectors like me, wander around

tattooed with stars fused into Vees. Soon

we will board trains to work on farms

or in distant factories. Who knows what’s

true? Not a single word from Jack

senior since I got here. We can only send

out. Not a word—as though it might be

contagious—gets in. I want to know

what happens when, and if, you heal.

We hear you’re “inventoried”, that

everything you own is tracked, that you’ll

be forced to live—if you survive—

in prison-like villages. If you show

no symptoms for two years—or so we’re

told—we may be let out a few days every

month. I ask myself, to what and to where?

And the baby? The only way to get out

of here permanently, they say, is to be

symptom-free for five years. Five years!

If you can believe them. Tomorrow we

get “chipped”. Not just for contacts

and our whereabouts, but every syllable

we utter will be monitored for anything

that suggests we’ve again become Vectors.

Rumor says they scan our brains while

we sleep. We hear other camps like this

exist. . .


Inspired by diary excerpts recording

Germany’s occupation of Europe


Dick Altman writes in the high, thin, magical air of Santa Fe, NM, where, at 7,000 feet, reality and imagination often blur. He is published in Santa Fe Literary Review, American Journal of Poetry, riverSedge, Fredericksburg Literary Review, Foliate Oak, Blue Line, THE Magazine, Humana obscura, The Offbeat, Haunted Waters Press, Split Rock Review, The RavensPerch, Beyond Words, New Verse News, Sky Island Journal and others here and abroad. A poetry winner of Santa Fe New Mexican’s annual literary competition, he has in progress two collections of some 100 published poems. His work has been selected for the forthcoming first volume of The New Mexico Anthology of Poetry, to be published by the New Mexico Museum Press.

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