Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016


Morpheus in West Virginia

in Health/U.S. by

A scion of robber baron philanthropists
whose last name is synonymous with pain
has, through the toxic advertising mists,
made murder legal, elegant, humane.

Like Jagger’s Lucifer, he wears a tie
outfitted in the finest Italian suits
possessing all that money cannot buy
prestige and prominence the world salutes.

The dead of West Virginia are his keep,
couples with needles hooked into their arms,
their babies born into narcotic sleep,
more dust from opiates than firearms.

Local mortuaries have run out of beds
to stretch the corpses on. In this shell game
the blue pills were swapped deftly for the reds
by Morpheus. I hope you guess his name.

The Family That Built An Empire of Paine [ The New Yorker ]
West Virginians Struggle For Answers in Worst-Hit Opioid Epidemic State [ The Guardian ]
Opioid Crisis Drives a Grim Business in West Virginia: Body Transport [ HuffPost ]

Marc Alan Di Martino has published poetry and translations from Italian in Pivot, Poetry Salzburg Review, the Journal of Italian Translation, Italian Americana, Big City Lit, Edge City Review, Battered Suitcase, Best Poem, The New Formalist, Plume and the New Yorker’s “Book Bench” online. His satirical novel in verse, Thane Dimatims, is patiently awaiting a publisher. He currently lives with his wife and daughter in Perugia, Italy, where he works as a teacher of the English language and is an avid skateboarder.

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