The Faucian Bargain

(With apologies to Christina Rossetti and her “Goblin Market”)

Morning and evening

Folks heard the coolies cry:

“Come buy our pangolins,

Come by, come buy;

Bats and lemurs,

Bits of Uyghurs,

Human femurs,

Embargoed seegars –

All ripe together

In wintry weather,-

Morns that pass by,

Fair foreign bats fly;

Come by, come by;

Pass the wet market.”

Evening by evening

Beyond the fence and bollards,

Shi Zhengli bowed her head to hear,

Her Wuhan boss, who hollered

“Lady, veil your blushes

Crouch in your office like a cave

In the cooling weather;

With cautioning arms and clasping lips,

With tingling ears and finger tips,

“Lie close,” he said;

Massaging his aching head:

“We must not talk to goblin men,

We must deny the suits:

Who knows whom the bats have led

From the lab in dirty boots?”

Mrs. Shi covered up her eyes,

Covered close lest they should look;

And reared herself, hermetically,

Hissed like the restless brook;

“Look here, down the path tramp little men.

One hauls a camera, one a tape,

One lugs a case of PPR

With a badge of novel shape.”

They walk beyond the tyre tracks

Of their black, official cars;

They shouted as their gear unpacks

“We’ve come to look for SARS.”


She thrust a dimpled finger

In each ear, shut eyes and ran:

Took the cash from Dr. Fauci,

Gave records to the garbage man.

Carried away the livestock

To the market, where in vivo

Might be plausible, obtuse and furry;

And the damage in vitro

Like a ratel hurry skurry.

(The staff gave needed unction

To serve its gain of function,

Those who spoke of an escape

Were vanished from the landscape).

She heard a voice like a thousand crows

Shrieking all together,

Stating facts they shrewdly chose

To suit prevailing weather.


Mrs. Shi surfed computer keys 

To send some emails out,

To warn of the impending storm,

The need to stifle doubt,

To pin on the wet market


To convince the world the lab

Had nothing there to see.

A letter to “the Lancet”

Then served to tell the globe

That there were no germs in Wuhan

Fit for scientists to probe,

And the likes of Dr. Fauci

In their statements were most deft,

To ensure that Covid would 

Become the great gift to the Left.

The wicked, quaint truth-merchant men,

Their fruits honey to the throat;

(But poison in the blood)

Would tell them how their leaders stood

In deadly peril to the good:

To win the fiery antidote

They brought down a ring of steel:

To smother or restrain dissent

But most of all, conceal,

Then joining hand to little hand

To cheer the tedious lies,

They caucused, whispered, and they planned

The comely Truth’s demise.

How Do Bats Live With So Many Viruses? - The New York Times


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