David Hernandez’s “Happiness Epidemic”

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During this time of online learning for my students, I came across this poem in the final unit for my AP English Literature & Composition course. The unit focuses on the use of figurative language: simile, metaphor, and personification. Little did the creators of the course know that this poem would be so timely! It’s time for happiness, joy, and hope to go viral. MASKS PROHIBITED!

Happiness Epidemic – David Hernandez

Without any warning, the disease
sweeps across the country
like a traveling circus.

People who were once blue,
who slouched from carrying
a bag of misery over one shoulder

are now clinically cheerful.
Symptoms include kind gestures,
a bouncy stride, a smile

bigger than a slice of cantaloupe.
You pray that you will be infected,
hope a happy germ invades your body

and multiplies, spreading merriment
to all your major organs
like door-to-door Christmas carolers

until the virus finally reaches your heart:
that red house at the end of the block
where your deepest wishes reside,

where a dog howls behind a gate
every time that sorrow
pulls his hearse up the driveway.

Source: Hernandez, David. “Happiness Epidemic.” Casa Poema. Casa Poem, n.d. Web. 6 June 2011.

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