By | 1 February 2020

In Longyearbyen,
the arctic air freezes
like a webpage.
The wind buffers
ones and zeroes –
twenty degrees below
feels colder in binary.
When summer finally
loads, the internet thaws
tourism ads insidious
as viruses. They replicate
the same ill-researched fact:
it’s illegal to die here.
Come experience death-
defying chills. The law
nullifies the polar opposite
of spontaneous combustion,
and bears are served
restraining orders.
At the height of flu season,
hike mountains in the nude.
Lean over the town
like a microscope
and observe homes
painted with phlegm,
plasma and platelets
spreading across
petri dish glaciers.
Visit the graveyard –
sorry, the seed vault –
where seven miners
were planted in 1918.
From their oesophagi,
defrost chestnuts
that resemble Spanish
influenza. Reindeer
stomachs sprout
grasses and snow
pea-shaped anthrax.
Don’t worry,
it’s not contagious
unless you touch
the melting permafrost
of your screen’s liquid
crystal display.

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