2020 Hour 12: Last Stand

Here, in the last hour, I have no voice.

Before, I fought out my inadequacies

On this page,

Thorough and gut-spilling self-examination

Well-versed shots at my own heart

But this feels different.

 

Mediocrity has come for me

After a protracted pursuit.

I always wrote to defend myself, thinking,

If I surgically unearthed my soul

And put it on display,

The mediocrity would sigh

And retreat.

 

Instead, it is entrenched;

Having taken up a position on all my flanks

Not to attack but worse, to mute.

And my defense, my mighty pen against this sword,

Cowers.

And this repeats in my ear-

No one can stop you from being an unknown writer.

2020 Hour #11: After Alice

2020 Hour #11:  After Alice

 

I went down the rabbit hole

Following the heroine’s footsteps

But I didn’t need any magic potion

To measure my insignificance.

 

I settled in nicely at the Hatter’s Table,

Not taking up too much space

From the more honored guests at tea that day

As that would be impolite.

 

But the Cheshire cat saw through my act

And threw me a sideways stare

He knew I was a fraud, and with a flick of his tail

Sent me on my way.

 

At the palace I faced the Queen of Hearts

The execution to be swift and clean

But please she said, explain yourself

Before you end up dead.

 

My Queen, I cried, I cannot lie

I am hardly a valiant Alice

I wanted only a taste of this magical place

And for that I am willing to die.

2020 Hour #10: Dirty Little Secret

2020 Hour #10:  Dirty Little Secret

 

I’m going to tell you a secret-

I don’t mind being locked down during the pandemic

I was made for just this type of isolation

Shaped small enough to fit in this confinement.

 

I am in no hurry to get back to the world

That I lived for so long and well without

Maneuvering myself around others

Mastering the art of hiding in plain sight.

 

I already did most things by myself

I never pined for constant connection

Taking it only where convenient

Or necessary.

 

The art of the solitary

Is the discipline of not minding

Being alone.

2020 Hour 8: Emoji Translation

2020 Hour 8: Emoji Translation

 

But oh my love, my love, my love!

Will you not leave me be

Oh but for the bleeding to stop

To stem the flow of our unhappiness

You must break us into two

And steer our ship to port

So I may finally rest

Lest this sick coupling doom us both.

2020 Hour #7: Fistfight

2020 Hour #7:  Fistfight

 

Outside my window, a flag flies at the top of a building

And it plays a violent game of chicken with the wind.

When a breeze turns down my street

It transforms, shedding its innocence and churning into a reckless teenager

Testing boundaries against all in its midst.

So this flag takes a particular hit;

The wind comes right up to it, gets in its face,

And dares it to back down.

Get out of my f*%$n way

But the flag won’t cower

Instead, against all odds, it fights,

Extending a punch from the edges of its stretched fabric

Winding back, then releasing all its energy in defiance

Right punch, left punch, sometimes felled

A mass of fabric looped around itself sent back to its corner

Then, at the moment of certain defeat

It rises

And unfurls itself with such fury that the wind,

In disbelief and shame

Retreats.

But the flag, flying high from the victory

Remains vigilant

As another wind approaches.

2020 Hour 6: Perfect Day

2020 Hour 6: Perfect Day

 

Time-Infinite

My wrist watch, high on something sassy and chilling out

Using its hands to knit a sweater for the sky

And giving the atomic clock the finger.

 

Weather-Cold

Breathe in, blow out the chilled air

My bare hands ice packs that I hold to my cheeks

To remember that I’m alive.

 

Activity-Walking

My feet have mapped out the city

Footprints repeated through the maze of blocks

Treading each like friends who meet, hug, and depart.

 

Status-Solitude

Quiet is both my companion and shadow

Broached occasionally by a cacophony of my thoughts

Which walk with me arm in arm.

2020 Hour #5: A Road in Argentina

2020 Hour #5:  A Road in Argentina

 

On an overnight drive

From Mar Del Plata to Buenos Aires

I sat awake, entranced by the night sky;

The ceiling was erupting in massive bursts of light,

Even in my wildest dreams, there weren’t this many stars.

From my seat, pushing my head against the window

And arching my neck to the edge of its capacity,

I became as still as a stone in rapture.

What are the rules of celestial life?

Perhaps there is a hierarchy involved,

In which the best and chosen shine brighter,

A class into which they are born

And thus are entitled.

But then, what of the strivers, the dreamers,

Those lit even more furiously from within

So, like those of us below

Have to try harder to burn longer

To sustain greatness over the obvious blinding arrogance

Whose light is an excuse to take up space.

From my perch so below this spectacle

They seemed to co-exist without conflict;

Or, was I seeing armies gathered on infinite battlefields

Waiting for the signals to charge

Infantries of light in constant formation

Until the daylight calls a truce.

Hour #4: Letter to my father

#4:  Letter to my father

 

Dear Dad

You would not like it here

The world is so far removed from what you remember

That you’d be sad, your head dropped down like I had seen it

Once or twice when you thought I didn’t notice.

I saw it when you talked about my sister, a realization of loss

When you saw a harder side of her, a betrayal of your “sweet Sisi”;

I know you blamed yourself, even though you cast the cause elsewhere

But I heard it in the tone of your voice, equal parts disbelief and resignation,

And saw it in the angle of your back as you sat on one of those high stools

In her house that we both hated,

Your head retracting between your shoulders

Into a flat stillness.

 

I don’t know what you’d think about our country right now

Having failed at everything we set out to protect.

You’d be mad as hell I think

Like when you were in the hospital

Three months in and out of the ICU before you died

Attached like Frankenstein before he was unleashed

And you smiled at me when I came in your room

Holding up the tube for your colostomy bag,

That you decided to yank out

Full of defiance and fight.

 

I wish you were here, Dad

So we could talk every day

And you’d let me go on and on about whatever was on my mind

Mom tries but I can hear her weariness through the phone

But she lovingly puts up with me, because she knows what I know,

That you and I are the same.

2020 Hour 3: On walks during the pandemic

#3:  On walks during the pandemic

 

There is a cemetery across the street

And when this started, I’d walk there for exercise

Before the dead consumed us, these dead stood guard

Perhaps they knew what was coming but couldn’t warn us.

It was wonderful, wandering the steep paths among the quiet

Getting lost in the carefully arranged geometry of the departed,

With only the occasional interruption of reality

When the person coming toward you drifted to the opposite side

Out of fear.

I’d stop at the random grave, preferring the older headstones

Wondering who had died at nineteen in 1943

Or who had been lost at six months in 1890.

Was it just time and circumstance?

Sacrificed to a war, consequences of medical inequalities,

Perhaps victims of a crime?

Tombstones are elusive storytellers

That give us only the ending

So our imaginations run wild.

So what do these residents say to those who come to join them?

The cemetery was quickly closed

And we can’t see the surge happening behind the gates

We are no different than them

Our lives, once ended, as mysterious as when we began.

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