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This crazy spring froze me right inside
its own unnatural thaw. When I look to
the generation behind myself I see nothing
but a glossy spread of good fellowship
that never happened. All our relations
gathered at an outdoor grill, listening
to Stevie Wonder sing his hymn to Little Rock.
Imagine that! Call us out for our wild alliance
in a place so long ago that people
still brushed shoulders on the street
and passed bread and stories around
the dining room table.
I’m going to drive these pristine roads alone
in a silver Valiant wagon. Just watch me
fly right past you as I swing back
into the sweet and crowded past.
the pizza delivery guy
at the door
that’s what happens
when you have social anxiety
maybe I won’t have to meet him
if it keeps going like this
I can cancel my order
because I’m so nervous
I can’t eat
I can’t take this
stuck, covid 19
not a store open
to buy something
(which are the best things to buy)
I’ve gone to corona hell and I don’t even have the virus
which could be my next circle of covid hades
the gas station slot machine
keeps taking my money because it’s the only thing to do
just the same old toilet
into the sewer
there must be some reason
I woke up this morning
or maybe there isn’t
and I missed my chance at heaven
everything looks miserable
even the book I’m reading
which is one of the only things I have to do
so does the bed where I sleep
which is one of the only other things I have to do
I go out on the deck and smoke
and think why isn’t she talking to me
but I don’t talk to her either
we’re too not busy on our phones
I need a shower
I keep leaving the house without my face mask and gloves
which make me look like I’m performing an alien autopsy with a baseball cap on
I haven’t done the dishes
the laundry falls wherever it was taken off
the only thing that’s gotten good is the high quality of the bitching that goes on in the house with
“This sucks” and
being the most
deadly phrases of all
.lockdown ladder 1.
.lockdown ladders 2.
.lockdown ladder 3.
The Morning Sky
First Good Friday of the New Ice Age
It’s difficult to turn off apocalyptic thought
on the pivotal day of guilt
celebrated by the Christian calendar.
Nothing appears poetic
under a mid-April blanket of snow—
birds do not chirp in horny ecstasy.
Beaks bitch about flash-frozen insect protein,
and a cruel game of hide and seek
played with seeds.
Crows flaunt freedom of movement
while humanity is sequestered in fear—
there is a new killer no law can corral.
Did this terrorist wake
from pre-historic slumber
while we spiked our thermostats?
Our elected loan sharks seek subterfuge—
consult public-relations, accountants,
agree this doesn’t need to be a tragedy.
Place the elderly and infirm at the front—
they’ll agree they’ve already consumed
their fair share of resources.
So hide your ma and pa, grandma,
grandpa, and your sister with CF,
‘cause COVID’s comin’.
Indiscriminate and dominant—
disease on droplet air
doesn’t give a damn about sin.
The sky falls. Evening opens before us, perfect.
Here is a table, white-cloth’d, glasses chilled.
Fern fronds wave in the cool light.
Come and drink! Here are wine, vodka, lemons and gin.
a favorite chair is cushioned, ready.
Everyone’s waiting. See the guests–everyone she’s loved
or loathed, fucked over, or been fucked up by,
throughout her life. Of course, she is dead.
Please, night sky– be kind to my mother.
She might think she’s dreaming.
Who will console her at the moment of realization?
Maybe knowing will be enough.
Sit down in the empty park. Bang your head against a maple tree.
Observe the pale watery sun overhead as it touches your knee,
then close your eyes. This will help you not hear the bells
of Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church at ten o’clock
when they toll ninety-four times—one peal for each elderly man and woman
who expelled a last exhausted sigh of relief
in a nursing home or hospital quarantine center,
or home alone clutching a notebook, Important Numbers to Call
scrawled across the cover.
Your former boss is dead, her nephew, too. You will return to work
sometime in June, but you will not enter each other’s houses again,
your mouths will not open to laugh at the looniness
of empty sanitizer dispensers, a Cover Your Cough!
notice next to the No Exit sign.
Tomorrow, your own life will return.
Your mother and father are dead already, thank God.
Spring Break Without End
The options were
The Boca Boogie
The Get Your Rat On,
The Merry Lego,
The Black Death, and
You could get anything
from a slice to a 64-incher.
We’d been shooting for sunset
in the Keys, but by the time we got
as far down as Boca Raton,
our beer chest was empty and
the sounds of our stomachs were
nearly drowning out the heavy metal
blasting from our speakers.
After some drunken debate
about the relative virtues
of the options, we decided on
a 64-inch Boccaccio
and a pitcher each of Corona.
In anticipation of our
spring break trip,
we’d been guzzling beer nonstop
long before spring break
actually started. We were
so out of it we’d inadvertently
fallen off our screens.
No Facebook, no Instagram,
no Twitter, no TV even.
Nothing did we know about what
the world outside our little tribe
was beginning to find out.
Several pitchers and slices later,
we staggered back to our van
and got back on the road south
to the Keys.
“Hey,” one of the still somewhat
alert ones among us piped up,
“how come all the traffic is
heading in the opposite direction?!
I mean, this is
spring break, for Chrissake!”
AFTER THE PLAGUE
The third week of April passed slowly
without protests or violence
from a concerned public
who were beginning to doubt
the benefits of social distancing.
Conspiracies a go-go
multiplied in whispers while
without their routines
bickered and wondered
how they could be related.
No Plans or play-dates
Neither young or old knew
The day or date.
After the plague
and stock market crash,
free Government cash
and diet plans to ease
their Post-Coronavirus Stress Disease.
An anxiety disorder plus obesity.
Collateral damage morbidity
that dwarfed the Covid-19 illness.
defended doctoral theses
about toilet paper madness
with bipolar features,
and transmission vectors
without playgrounds or classes as
underpaid teacher survivors
were forgotten by
their students learning remotely.
Photo: Kimberly McNeil
A Warm Cup Of Bleach Before Bed
masked by Mother Earth.
A viral spiral
in exchange for
oil spills and
Nice is the new drug.
Side effects may include
and death in waves
no shoes dancing
on the street
there is a thin
and my enemy
made of the finest
My wife models the Johnny Was face mask
she ordered from Amazon, the material,
a profusion of extravagant blossoms,
enhancing her green-gold irises & the cute
little crease between her eyes. I’m studying
my navel, the skin just above it, hirsute
& blotched, how it pulses to the beat
of my heart. I never understood Newton’s
First Law of Motion, but the Fourth Law
of Motion, which I just invented, promises
the heart will always persist in its state
of uniform motion. Let us pray.
When The Clapping Stops
Nurses will get a cut in pay.
Immigrant nurses will be deported.
Those who get phoned by “Contact and Trace”
call centres will be perpetually self isolated,
the 14-day period extended after each person
they tended to gets the second wave of the virus.
And the clapping outside houses,
the banging of pans and fireworks,
will echo in the distance
in the distance,
You, I, both strangers now,
the shifting shapes of our eyes speaking
of the air you shun, deducing the spit
to many unknowns, the softest moans
of fevers, the tastelessness of phlegm,
the quivers of scared, scarred skins,
the loss of spring burrowing in nostrils,
we, suddenly, are the symptoms.
I can only surmise the speech
of what is concealed, the whole mouth,
imagine the slight movement of your lips
when they remember berries, the noise
of slow sipping, the counted brushing
of the excitement clinging to fingertips,
the blown smoke circles, all hesitations
feigning, the undetected bluffs.
You stare, my tongue inside,
hiding like socket balls behind shut eyelids,
no hairs, none of those stubborn leftovers
between molars after chewing, the itching
of my throat quiet, the words you cannot
hear even if I say them, the muffled cough
becoming a hint of existence, the sighs
underneath the unwoven spandex.
i sing the body to a hemorrhage
“the fires are not my doing
neither is the fear
nor the brown skin
i put my weapons into the ground
i sign my resignation in the dirt”
all still broken
the house windows
the store shelves
the po-po cars
the stale white words from particle board podiums
and the black lives
and the “us” loves
every dream is sharded
every hand is cut
“we need cha now”
i sing my body to a hemorrhage