Influenca

Food for thought from the Book Bench (via)

A progression of commentators on both Metafilter and Dan Savage’s blog mention the discovery of a reference to a Mark Doty poem in the most unlikely of places—a letter sent to eleven bars with a predominantly gay clientele in the Seattle area, threatening to poison “at least five” patrons with Ricin. The anonymous writer states, “All I can say is the targets won’t care much that they’ll be dead and nearly frozen, just as, presumably, they didn’t care that they were living,” repeating nearly verbatim lines from Doty’s poem “A Display of Mackerel”:

They don’t care they’re dead
and nearly frozen,

just as, presumably,
they didn’t care that they were living

Adding to the horrific resonance of the letter is the circumstance in which Doty wrote the poem—six months after the death of his partner, from AIDS. Doty later wrote, “Epidemic was the central fact of the community in which I lived.” (The letter’s implied parallel between a poison which has no antidote and AIDS makes the threat particularly sinister.)

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