Silly me. I always thought
sitting on the dock of the bay
was about Seattle and Bremerton –
It was the only bay I knew,
it fed and housed me well
and gave me countless hours
of solace and meditation.
Time and distant love altered the equation.
One seeks to close the gap
that separates and isolates.
Today we are socially distant,
trying to flatten the curve.
We stay at home. We elbow bump
instead of a goodnight kiss.
Nobody has bandwidth
To focus on the senators
Who profited from inside information.
We are at that point
In late empire. Justice has removed
Her blindfold to put on
A breathing mask.
It’s a good time for thieves
And rogues. And dirty politicians.
And it’s a good day for poets
Witnessing the birth of new genre.
We’ll all be safe. Besides, we’re in lockdown,
And the pens are full, and the coffee is hot,
And the bookshelves are overflowing.
Writing my own poems gave me
A deeper appreciation for poetry
Just like writing my own play
Helped me better understand drama.
Keeping a written record
is a small “d” democratic Art and
the expressed urge to write
is a small “r” republican Virtue.
Both strengthen the body politic.
But both require a voyage, not a visit,
as Mrs. Brooks’s The Chicago Picasso
would be pleased to know we learned.
The present quasi lockdown provides us
Space and time to take the journey.
Work meetings on Zoom today –
Two confirmed cases on campus
Mean shutdown until further notice.
But the library can never completely close
So there’s telework for all library staff –
Eight hours per week on site.
This ain’t a poem, it’s a list, too much
Is happening to restrict it to 14 lines.
Taxes postponed. What if it’s all a fraud?
Read some good Angolan history today –
Precolonial stuff, and an Amilcar Cabral
Essay: History is a weapon – all for my
Docent course, even though this week’s
Walk-through at the museum is cancelled.
See the line at Trader Joes this morning?
Wrapped down the block and around the corner –
Each shopper six feet apart from the next?
Whole Foods is still out of Vitamin C
And limiting frozen pizza to four
Per shopper. Good prices on naval oranges –
Stocking up to stave off scurvy, rickets.
Press conference on standby – gotta get
Latest developments on the crisis.
Never mind the moral imbecility
Of the press corps – the message seeps through
Their banterings and raillery
(And that’s being charitable. My goodness!)
The time to learn the news is nigh.
A new fountain pen arrived. Nice feel, heft.
German import. Overstock. Priced to sell.
A bit slow on capillary action
At first, as new pens often are. An ink drop
Spilled on my hand and down to the floor.
Should have done this in the kitchen. Trouble.
In paradise. Wife will be enraged.
No refuge will there be from her scorn.
We are both going crazy trying to predict
the unknown unknown. When will it all end?
Meanwhile, I’m preparing a short talk
About how the Portuguese invented
The plantation system memorialized
In the Cape Verdean art form: Morna.
I’m reading Transgenerational Trauma.
I should be planning my day of telework
at home, surrounded by distractions.
No one sits within six feet of me –
social distancing is the new rule.
Garland Nixon is broadcasting
On Radio Sputnik. At noon the pope
is giving a special prayer and Fatima
in Portugal is consecrating the world.
My mask is not stylish but effective.
Everybody on Twitter has something
Snarky to say about the corona virus.
I took my Vitamin C with coffee –
We’ll keep the barking hounds at bay.
I compare every new and pretty voice
To my safe bets, Mariza and Amalia,
And that’s not fair. How can the new ones meet
That standard? But they try and they deserve
To be heard. Fado is my antidote
For the blues the lockdown brought. But the songs
Of old don’t really address the anguish
and the uncertainly of the present.
Never mind. Folks are starting to panic,
Important events and milestones cancelled
Or postponed. Isolation takes its toll
In time. Mariza told us she was tired
Of singing all these sad old weary songs.
There is a sort of spiritual healing
taking place in government today,
thanks to Rona. Forced into party strait
jackets to support various sides
of the impeachment hoax, many
Unwillingly, members can finally seek
the unity of purpose and collegiality
that heals their souls. All our souls.
The black ladies are making a quilt
with large, oversized white hands.
And there is a peeping Tom in the window,
maybe the artist himself. Maybe some other.
A black cat creeps across the floor,
and a new world is forming outside.
The volunteer activities I cram into my weekends
Bring me great joy and fulfillment, satisfaction.
Even with the requirement to juggle things
From one Saturday to the next, I thrive on it.
But today, in the midst, we hope, of the lockdown,
The chores that once occupied my mind are absent.
So I am doing a binge on Amazon Prime selections
Since we terminated our subscription to Netflix
To avoid the social programming therein.
What’s in store for today? A friend recommends
Counterpart, Cold War spy thriller, supposedly,
Though we know what that deal was. And then
There is Star Trek – Discovery, not quite my cup of tea,
Although I was an early saint to outer space’s devotion.
To Rona (AKA, the corona virus, COVID19)
Rona, you were never a passing thing,
A good time girl who tiptoed daintily
Through the sweetness of our days,
Leaving a faint trace of a summer memory.
OH. HELL. NAW! Rona, you came upending
All our ho-hum lives, taking us
To new levels of thinking and being.
Rona, you were never a one-night stand.
I knew you were trouble when you
stuck your head in the doorway
And flashed that cunning smile.
My mother warned me about girls
Like you. Still, instead of chasing you away,
I brought you fully into my embrace.
I just listened to the new Bob Dylan drop.
Some kind of weird incantation –
A forced repetition, for a hypnotic effect,
a magic ritual in an ancient oral tradition.
Also, a shout out to the musical ancestors,
Invoking each of the gods by name.
An African conceptualization is what Toledo
would call it. Oh, you don’t know Toledo?
How could you? He was Ma Rainey’s piano player.
Ain’t never been the same fool twice. Don’t worry,
You’ll see it on Netflix when it comes out.
A piano lesson disguises the real drama.
Old Bob gives the devil his due. Play that funky
music white boy. Spell it with a K in B flat.