- Dick Altman
From Her Occupation Diary
“Headed in a bad direction”:
Omicron variant may bring
second-largest US Covid wave
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.