IN COVID-19

Subjects wrap themselves in poetry

Today, practically every consideration pales

In comparison with

Tens of thousands infected, thousands dead

Hospitals past capacity, protective gear spent, exhausted

Medical professionals sick, exposed

Failed containment

Considerations pale in comparison with COVID-19

You used to be IT if you had

A Cabbage Patch Doll

And liked Ben and Jerry’s ice cream

Or were hip in the bar

There was even a word for it—

“Trendy,” and yet people were

I wasn’t anybody until I went to Harvard

Yet, things in this world matter

Mean something even in COVID-19

It’s hard to play Mozart piano sonatas, now

But they matter, and my new book of Confucius’ Odes

(Ordered online, in social isolation)

The wind blows a lot of chaff away

In these days

As it carries the virus

Through the entire world

And wraps words around itself

EARLY COVID-19

My distance and loneliness

In a poisoned world

My amusements and study

Grow vapid and I wonder

What to do in all this

In my state of shock, my enervated will

I can’t bring myself to do anything

Struggle with the clock that doesn’t seem to move time

Distancing, social isolation, and loneliness

How strange commercials from the old days seem

Tight social groups at cafes, parties, mobs at pop concerts

And New York city streets like a ghost-town

I try to wrap my mind around it all

What it all means, what it will mean

The economy, unemployment, isolation

How long?  What it all means

Shops shut down, restaurants, businesses

And all those workers unemployed now

The number of incidents rises, the death toll

They say weeks, probably months of this

Then we will emerge—but to what?

The scar COVID-19 will leave on the world we used to know

For now, the greatest love means isolation

THE APOLLONIAN IDEAL

According to Nietzsche’s writing, my ideals would be called Apollonian

The Apollonian ideal according to which I live engenders

The isolation I have known

Sometimes despising it

Bare loneliness

Chasing learning, reading, practicing music, listening to music, writing

Pensive

All alone

Moving from one state to another

Across the borders of nations

Chasing schools, careers, saying goodbye

Assimilating the norms of new places

All alone, living alone, sleeping alone

Traveling alone—for business or edification, or it all

Times spent in solitude

Now enamored, in amour, estoy enamorado

Another soul in my solitude

Awakening love, awakened love, loving life, my life, the other

Loving even the Apollonian life I chose, choose still

In love with it all, enamorado de todo

OUT THERE

What do you do with time

We shared, when we are no longer we

Those memories of us, photos of us

Places we went together

Time when we shared when we were we

 

How does an individual repair trust?

Broken trust, broken heart

What does an individual do with broken love

Innocence lost, admiring, trusting innocence

Echoes of expulsion from the Garden

 

I can hear blues even in The Ode to Joy

Guess I won’t be happy for a while

There is redemption with God,

Peace in religious systems

If feeling better isn’t cheating

 

I try not to get mad at everybody

They have done nothing to me

But from this place, place of downcast dour

I can’t find equanimity, the civil speech

I must maintain with everybody

 

And so I wait in the darkness

Without hope, for hope would be for the wrong thing

Without will, for desire would be misplaced

There is only the waiting and the darkness

Which shall be the darkness of God

A CIRCUIT OF CONNECTIONS

Love

Connection

Support, community

Parents, brothers and sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents

Home

When it all works

 

And then

 

Vocation, relocation, isolation

Alone, unknown in a strange town

The whole wide world

Strangers, business associates

Stabs at connection

Church, gyms, bars, gangs, the streets

Alcohol and drugs and one-night stands

Unaware

Screams at connection

 

And then

 

Incredibly good fortune,

or Providence

“O Lord thou pluckest me out”

Intimacy, soulmate, conjunction

Love

Mutual

Family again

Support

Connection

Home

After so much

A friend to the whole wide world

Blues Club

I was wearing my city face

And I didn’t make eye-contact

When people looked my way, I didn’t see

There were too many unfortunate consequences

If you made eye-contact or saw others

I didn’t hate

There were just too many unfortunate consequences

I show love

Not here

Isolation, alienation

Here, and substance abuse, and bombast

But for live music, I wouldn’t be here

But for my solitary home life I wouldn’t be here

But for my sensitive intellect

I might communicate

Some desperate, broken, obnoxious seek community, here

As I did, years ago

She’s not with me tonight

Nor the network stemming from her, from us

Not here, now, but with me, still, even now

The band’s on break and I’m alone

Not in life

Just here

By design