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 11 November 202211 November 2022 Main Posts On the last day of Subscriberthon, our amazing online editor gives you one last (very good) reason to subscribe Editorial team What's in store for the last day of Subscriberthon? First published in Overland Issue 228 10 November 202210 November 2022 Main Posts On the second-last day of Subscriberthon, our favourite editor-duo give you reason #1002 to subscribe to Overland Editorial team What's in store for the second-last day of Subscriberthon?