Mutated World Sequence

Mutated World Sequence        

      If the virus doesn’t replicate, it won’t mutate.              
      —Dr. Anthony Fauci on vaccine urgency.

I

My husband watches Ozark on Netflix.
I walk away to my laptop, tell him,
I don’t like any of the characters
and I don’t like the plot.


He can see how that could be true,
but he watches anyway.
The show’s been nominated.

Conventional COVID-19 wisdom says
the smart thing to do is stay home and avoid people.

We wait for a cure as hours of scripted
dramas flicker before our eyes.

II

When I was a girl, I watched Let’s Make a Deal.
No one could know what was behind the boxes,
or curtains, or in Monty Hall’s pockets.
Contestants had to choose without knowing—
lucky or unlucky, it was a game of chance.
I wanted the contestants to be lucky;
a prize could change their life.
I wanted to be lucky.

III

When I was a baby, my mother won
a powder blue Plymouth station wagon
from a fire department raffle.

We really needed the car.
She fainted when she got the call.
The kitchen phone dangled
as my mother lay on the floor.
My father accepted the prize.

IV

One afternoon, my mother left me
alone in the vehicle of her good fortune.
She says I released the emergency brake.
The car rolled down the hill into a tree.
The distance traveled didn’t have enough
time or space for momentum.
Neither the car nor the toddler I was
were damaged. My mother sprained her ankle
when she ran to catch us. She repeats
the story of how she got hurt.

V

My father quoted his bible—
Maltz’s Psycho-Cybernetics.
Cybernetics, loosely translated from Greek,
is “a helmsman who steers his ship to a port.”

My father always wanted to get out of his childhood
factory life—become a white-collar worker.
He admired the used car salesmen.
He pictured himself clipped in crisp collars and ties.

My father explained that the brain doesn’t know
the difference between what you do and what you imagine.
They train, but athletes rehearse winning in their minds,
visualize until it feels real, like a dream.


Cathy Allman received her MFA from Manhattanville College. Her poem, “Not in the Wonder Box” has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Avalon Literary Review, Blue Earth Review, Bluestem Magazine, Brickplight, Broad River Review, California Quarterly (CQ), The Cape Rock, Caveat Lector, Cimarron Review, Coachella Review, Crack the Spine, The Critical Pass Review, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Drunk Monkeys, East Jasmine Review, Edison Literary Review, Elysian Fields,Flights, Free State Review,Front Range Review, Ghost City Review, Glassworks Magazine, Glint, Green Hills Literary Lantern, Hartskill Review, Hawaii Pacific Review, Hungry Chimera, I-70 Review, Maudlin House, Moon City Review, Off the Coast, The Old Red Kimono,On Location,Pearl, Poydras Review, Origins Journal, The Penmen Review, Pennsylvania English, Peregrine, Pink Panther Magazine, Pisgah Review, River Poets Journal, The Potomac Review, Red Savina Review, The Round, Rubbertop Review, Sanskrit, Schuylkill Valley Journal, Sequestrum, Slab, Stonecoast Review, Storyteller, Talking River, Terminus,Third Wednesday, Town Creek Poetry,Valparaiso Poetry Review, Virginia Normal, and Word Riot.

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