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Photo courtesy of 

Daniel Tseng

Poetry

Masque of the Red Death 

 

Poe’s Prince Prospero, at least,  

acknowledged the threat, paid  

respect to his foe. He retreated, yes,  

 

but he brought furnaces to the abbey’s gates.

He welded the bolts, preparing to make 

merry until the peasants all perished. 

 

We hung our money, which had never failed 

to protect, over the door and bid our children 

to roam the hallowed halls as freely as before. 

 

The contagion outside continued to roar. 

Slicing like glass into lungs of the weak, 

minorities, the poor. We followed our whims

 

with storytime and plays. Football games, 

marching band, life as a parade. Our whiteness  

an armor used to deflect. But Poe knew,  

 

you know, and I do, too, that disease seeps 

as easily as hate into our skin. And today, 

with two students, it begins. 

 

By Aimee Noel

Aimee Noel is a writer and educator in Dayton, Ohio. Her work has appeared in Witness, Michigan Quarterly Review, Provincetown Arts, and elsewhere. She earned the 2020 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award for poetry and can eat her weight in pierogi.  Follow Aimee on Instagram at @aimeekn and for more at aimeenoel.net.