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The Plague at the Margins of My Research


Airport, morning. Mostly empty.

What do I say about this plague? I’m afraid of losing my job. Aren’t we all? Or already unemployed, perhaps sick. Fixating on door knobs, narratives of touch and transmission. Well, no one I know is playing the stock market, aroused by the blood in the water.

It’s true the Black Death created a labor shortage and this is what destroyed the feudal system. This is a fact I know and don’t know what to do with as I stare at the empty shelves of the Rite Aid at the corner of Delaware and Delavan. This is the fifth drugstore I’ve been to today after a doctor told me to take my temperature, after I was on a flight from Phoenix to Detroit, returning from a wedding with a runny nose and sore throat while someone seated next to my wife puked in their germ mask.

This plague has already created mass unemployment in some states. I didn’t get a thermometer until a friend heard about my problem and left one, wrapped in a Clorox wrap, in my mailbox.

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About the Author

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Joe Hall is a writer, educator, and deprofessionalized academic. Black Ocean Press published his most recent book, Someone's Utopia, in 2018. His second book, The Container Store Vols. I & II (SpringGun Press 2012) was written with Chad Hardy. He has published journal articles working the intersections of poetics, empire, and the commons.

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