The Herd


Jackie Allaire McDonald, Guest Writer

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The oxygen in the sky is having a bad day.

It sighs on its way to work,

huffing freezing breath into office building windows,

spitting leaves and dust into the ocean.

It is tired of hugging the planet.

The oxygen complains, a jet-lagged celebrity,

just raced across the globe to perform in every city at once.

Demand is high,

applause is low.

The atmosphere is sinking into place.

Today it tangles around the knees of the President and Queen.

Tomorrow it will slip further, and pool by the ankles of the yappy dog on Main Street.

The oxygen in the sky is no longer in the sky.

It trips across curbs, pulling with it stickers peeled from the skin of fruit

by small and hungry hands.


The people bend down to pick up breaths,

Cutting the air into smaller, more manageable chunks

before slipping it under their tongues.

The convenience store downtown has blocks of oxygen stacked along its walls,

claiming cool, fresh, American air.

Today, you decide, you will not breathe


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