Ken Haas

Instructing the Virus
by Ken Haas

Chickens are an egg’s way
of making more eggs.
—Samuel Butler

We are trying to see you as you would want to be seen,
the human calling being to grok and rank and teach
all things, enemies as well as undecideds. The best we
can do, though, is see you as we would want to be seen,

if we were you. For example, under a microscope, where
the influenza of you resemble Van Gogh’s Sunflowers,
the West Nile of you, muscular cubist grapes,
the herpes of you, nimbi blooming in radar over Kansas.

You are indeed glorious and dangerous, lascivious
and generous. And the last shall be first, etcetera. Still,
we calculate it better to be chicken than egg, the host,
the boss, the mass, the house, the bus, the beast,

the blessed. Although we’re sure you’re out to kill us,
not just hitch a ride, those of us intimate with the scorn
of gods and relatives cannot help welcoming aboard
you pirates who love unquestioned everything we do—

shake the sweaty hand to seal the shady deal, pat
the nose of the panting mutt, bonk in mud, munch
on deep-fried bats and undercooked Whoppers. As if
your training, not our understanding, were the mission

of our clucking minds. Every time we start out believing
you are after them, not us—polio just the young, AIDS
just the gay, Ebola just the dark, now Corona just the old
—it turns out you don’t see us that way, see us as we

just don’t see. This new one of you has us uneasy, playing
Risk six feet apart, stockpiling Spam, drinking detergent
for cleaning out fish tanks, searching the attic for an old
rosé. You must teach us some more, teach us again.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 22, Issue 4.

Ken HaasKen Haas has been published in more than fifty journals, including Atlanta Review, Clare, Cottonwood, Existere, Forge, The Helix, Natural Bridge, Poet Lore, Quiddity, and Spoon River. His first book, Borrowed Light, won the 2020 Red Mountain Press Discovery Award. Please visit him at

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