Published 11 June 2009 · Main Posts h1n1, the pandemic (a poem) Maxine Beneba Clarke cause let’s face it rich white folk mostly die of heart attacks / not aids & in our world bored teenagers rope red necks / for thrills & accidentally asphyxiate in black suspender lace / they strap body smack & traffic white lines / to fall before some firing squad on a sandy thai— ok / for real / i’ll just say it: h1n1 is not a plague a pandemic is the fate of small namibian girls when russian gun runners arm hungry knock-kneed boys on the tattered african corners where a dozen ream of bullets cost less than a tin-can toy ok / so / for real let me just say (with all due respect for the dead) h1n1 is not a pandemic h1n1 is two weeks in bed h1n1 is not a pandemic that’s right / i said will some brown mama scrape her own thigh flesh to feed a broken eyed babe with screaming shrink-wrapped ribs / because watch out h1n1 is here / will congalese militia rape every female in the village / grandmother with child / child or not / will government soldiers machete out the eyes of princesses who weep too much / because h1n1 i mean / fuck / a pandemic is twelve-year old chinese sweat shop slaves for david jones designer boxers h1n1 is three months away from being a flu shot / was mexico’s problem / till some new york accountant’s daughter didn’t wake up / h1n1 has crossed the borders the real hysteria is & i don’t mind saying it: h1n1 / will not discriminate scales the high rise office blocks of respecta—first world folk ladies & gentleman the problem straight: h1n1 / the pandemic does not recognise hate h1n1 / the pandemic is secular / interracial dangerous & goddamn we need to vaccinate Maxine Beneba Clarke Maxine Beneba Clarke is an Australian author and slam poet of Afro- Caribbean descent. Her short fiction collection Foreign Soil won the 2015 ABIA Award for Best Literary Fiction and the 2015 Indie Award for Best Debut Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Stella Prize. Her memoir, The Hate Race, her poetry collection Carrying the World, and her first children’s book, The Patchwork Bike, will be published by Hachette in late 2016. More by Maxine Beneba Clarke › Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 8 September 202326 September 2023 · Main Posts Announcing the 2023 Judith Wright Poetry Prize ($9000) Editorial Team Established in 2007 and supported by the Malcolm Robertson Foundation, the Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize for New and Emerging Poets seeks poetry by writers who have published no more than one collection of poems under their own name (that is writers who’ve had zero collections published, or one solo collection published). It remains one of the richest prizes for emerging poets, and is open to poets anywhere in the world. In 2023, the major prize is $6000, with a second prize of $2000 and a third prize of $1000. All three winners will be published in Overland. First published in Overland Issue 228 8 September 202315 September 2023 · Main Posts Announcing the 2023 Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize ($6500) Editorial Team Supported by the Malcolm Robertson Foundation, and named after the late Neilma Gantner, this prize seeks excellent short fiction of up to 3000 words themed around the notion of ‘travel’; imaginative, creative and literary interpretations are strongly encouraged. This competition is open to all writers, nationally and internationally, at any stage of their writing career.