You woke up this morning
to hear that Freddie Mercury had died.
The brilliant blue light of dawn
came in through a parting in the curtain
and hurt your eyes.
You couldn't get back to sleep again.
In the background Freddie Mercury sang,
'You can be anything you want to be...'
over and over again.
You lay there,
remembering he'd told the press this weekend
that he had Aids.
Broken, cut-up lines of prose to
indicate our horror.
By hiding it in the background you
can forget about it,
stop worrying whether you can catch it from
a toilet seat or a kiss.
You make coffee and brush your teeth
watching the trees grow more emphatic
in the blue morning air.
He died of pneumonia,
it's all over the radio.
Can't smear blood over doorsteps to
indicate someone's died.
It's a clean antiseptic world,
you can't find the plague in filthy streets,
or engorged rats.
Instead you can watch the living corpses on TV.
Bared eyes enormous in concentration camp faces,
teeth large as rabbits.
The picture sticks like wet dough in your throat.
You shove it down with water
and try to swallow.
In the background Freddie Mercury sings,
You can be anything you want to be,
you can be anything you want to be.