The Bright Spot Behind the Tombstone

Each day, new blessings—

like how the bombs haven’t yet gone off, zombies haven’t taken over our streets,

the four horsemen are still socially distancing themselves from the apocalypse.

Manson’s ghost hasn’t carved X’s into the foreheads of our best intentions.

The machines of sorrow having completely broken down into inconsolable fits of tears.

The wonderful drug they call love hasn’t completely failed in clinical trials.

New blessings amidst these crazy-making days. The tightly wound clocks of us,

still keeping time.

When the Beasts Come Calling

When stuck in quarantine, our thoughts can get cagey, lack direction.

Hair unkempt, growing grey at the roots. Unwashed and unfocused, those half-dressed thoughts stink up the joint with over-eating, over-drinking, too much internet browsing, and binge-watching Netflix.

Those restless thoughts refuse to socially distance themselves from one negative idea after the next. Grow more fevered by the day, and by night, siphon gasoline to use as hand sanitizer.

Darn thoughts can get bug-eyed and batty, riotous and ratty.

When stuck in quarantine, our thoughts can get cagey. When they bang at your door, howling their hunger, feed them the most clarity and positivity you can.

What to Do About When

When this creeping disease turns your thoughts to dust;

when the lonely hours forget your name; when the rain and fog creep into your breath;

when one day blurs into the next; when the walls draw a little closer;

when your heart is slashed by the razored music of these surreal times;

when your throat tightens with fear; when your eyes lose count of their tears;

when it feels like night and its immeasurable darkness are measuring you for a coffin;

hold onto yourself, hold fast to this precious earth and whisper and its ear—I am.

I f

If you polish my adam’s apple, make a rockband of my adrenal glands.

If you grease my elbows with your elbow grease, release all the fibs from my fibula.

If you take the Sisyphus boulders from my shoulders. Deem my humerus humorous, my femur a lemur, my feet a feat of strength.

If you Depeche Mode my lymph nodes, Spinal Tap my spinal cord, transform my teeth into an Exile on Main Street.

If you mercy my molars, reconstruct my navel into a rave, Route 66 my esophagus.

If you render my fibula fabulous, my glands grand, and my hair unhurried—

I’ll make my blood vessels your eternal blood brother.

Disease Diaries #9

This disease has a hatchet where it should have a heart; a time-bomb where it should have a brain; a fever where it should have a liver.

This disease stampedes when it should pirouette. Forgets to call its mother for her birthday.

Creates new diseases of fear, racism, and misinformation.

It’s a super-sized cheeseburger of burden leaving a massive grease stain on our collective psyche.

But this disease won’t defeat us.

Pales in the face of Lysol and hand sanitizer, is continually faced down by essential workers and medical workers.

This disease, with its skeleton key of isolation, may keep us locked inside, but it won’t lockdown our spirit.

Gucci vs. Fauci

Don’t socially distance yourself from your inner wisdom.

Don’t wear a noose for a necklace.

Don’t confuse a museum with a mausoleum, or a Cajun with a contagion.

Don’t think Gucci is better than Fauci.

Don’t think life is all one-sided when 6 can be 9.

Don’t confuse your coffee with a coffin, or you may drink yourself to death.

Don’t linger with a bee’s stinger. Don’t hide your wounds when they make you a warrior.

Don’t ask for a half-moon when you want the whole night to shine.

Don’t stop believin’ when self-quarantinin’.

Quarantine Dream

There are people singing songs, people playing instruments.

People reciting poetry and all the wise messages written on their souls.

People coping, changing, taking care of kids.

People chanting, people dancing.

People saying prayers, people building ventilators. People teaching, people shopping for the elderly.

All those zooming and blooming, dreaming and mindfully self-quarantining.

Yoga warriors, woodworkers, and health-care workers. Rappers, collaborators, and rhythmatists.

People sharing their moods, people sharing their muses.

So many people I see doing so many beautiful things while stuck inside.

As the 5 am Heater Hums, So Does My Pen

All that is before us—

the engines of disease driving us mad, unfulfilled desires, loved ones dying,

politicians with demeanors like ingrown toenails with hangovers.

Still,

there are chorus lines of birds just outside the window, fresh flowers on graves, doctors and nurses,

postal workers and supermarket cashiers.

Books to read and songs to sing.

Pets with wet and soulful eyes looking up at us like we’re the god of their world.

As I write these words, my city is so quiet, like the soft hum of a womb where we’re all waiting to be reborn.

Beyond the Beyond Until You’ve Returned to the Now

In this exile from disease, the silence hurls its knives. The walls creep a little closer, crowding out sanity.

Buckle down our dreams, re-bead their rosaries, anoint their foreheads with honeyed moonglow as we make the dark descent into days of endless nights.

Time without you near me costs more than a trip to the moon and back.

And back.

And back into the now:

this disease is bad, but the song of us is far stronger than lions prowling through endless forests of ghosts.

What the Crow Calls Free

I catch the virus in my hand, bring my fist to my heart.

The beat of me, louder than the clenched breath-buzz of that sickening disease.

Its rancid blood cramps, my heart hammers the illness to stillness.

This all may be wishing, but wishing is better than worrying my mind to angry weather.

Just outside my window, a crow calls. It don’t bother calling collect,

it don’t make me pay for the joy

of hearing its song.