My seat on the bus faces the back. A man with red and green facial tattoos, wearing a black singlet and no mask stands up. He speaks loudly as if in conversation with someone on a non-existent phone. He bends down behind a young woman in the seat in front of him. Ear buds in, she’s unaware.
He coughs over her shoulder — deliberately, dramatically — into his sleeve, near his elbow. Then he does it again, phlegm rattling. He stands up and begins to move towards the front door. No one speaks. People look away. All is quiet on the bus.
––––––––––– “I write to make sense of life and sometimes my own reaction to life.” – the writer
Before COVID Before your mom’s dementia Before I was fired from my job Before your mom died Before I became enmeshed in paperwork Before you were overcome by grief Before I misplaced my libido Before you stopped saying nice things Before we both got old We had a life That was before Now we only have after
––––––––––– “I write the things I could never say out loud.” – the poet
The old man opened the box. It was a spinner toy sent from his grandson. The old man loved it and spun it all day long while his wife tried to ignore him. But it was into another year of the pandemic, and their apartment seemed to shrink every day. Finally, she’d had it. She grabbed the toy from him and gave it a spin. Around and around it went while they watched, mesmerized, waiting until it stopped. It was the most fun they’d had together months. “My turn next,” he said. “Then mine,” she immediately responded. They both laughed.
––––––––––– “I write to try and bring a bit of happiness to people.” – the writer
It’s tempting to say the pandemic was responsible. That it raged through the population, destroying everything in its path.
But the pandemic was more like a solid bureaucrat. A vicious bureaucrat, dishing out illness and death, but doing so without malice. Doing its job effectively, perhaps with a wry smile about those who thought it wasn’t real.
The real rage, the rage that destroyed the city?
That rage came from the people, fuelled by fear and a new tribalism. Vaxxed vs unvaxxed. Each “side” so dogged in self-righteousness they lost sight of compassion and empathy.
Rage won. Everybody else lost.
–––––––––– “I write to tell stories, to help me think and hopefully spark thought in others.” – the writer
My loneliness intensifies each week. How long has it been now? Looking out the window, all I can see is the blinding snow. All I can hear is the beat of the clock. Oh, but to listen to another heartbeat instead. All I can feel is the moisture on my cheek, yet another tear. How to hold up? Hold to hold on? There are a thousand questions to ask, but the first one is, “How can I feel lonely living in a city among three-million other souls?”
––––––––––– “Some things you just need to put to paper.” – the writer
Standing in front of her mirror, Katie critically assessed her appearance. Would Marcus like what he saw? She pursed her lips and shook her head. Returning to her bedroom, Katie rummaged through her chest of drawers before plucking the item for which she searched.
“Yes, that’s better,” Katie purred as she inspected the image in the mirror. Her pink mask was just right. Small enough to reveal her endearing dimples. Tight enough to outline the promise of her plump, kissable lips. “Okay,” Katie said whilst opening her wardrobe. “Now, which jacket matches?”
–––––––––– “Archie writes primarily to impress his wife, but would not object a wider audience.” – the writer
Treading water In a time of pandemic Holding hopes and dreams In a bottle of formaldehyde Waiting in line In a duality of action Focusing on a future Of the unknown And uncertain While paving sidewalks With quicksand The new turf of the new normal Embedded with the hyperbole Of the ideologues And the believers As the landscape of tomorrow Reveals a golden past Treading water
–––––––––– “I wrote this because I had to!” – the writer
Deep breath, sharp sting, the throbbing ache, An instant to inject And poison swirls, a writhing snake Delivered to protect.
Inscrutable, the fate of bees, What are we, cursed or blessed? Inoculated, well at ease, Existence laid to rest.
Yet water buckets need to fill Through brambles, tears and scabs Our thirsty blooms need tending still By arms stung numb with jabs.
With venomed veins and bloody knees We persevere for springtime bees.
––––––––––– “My friends call me ‘la poetessa obscura,’ as my words have been directed towards myself or specific people, rather than towards a broader audience. I write in two languages, English and Russian, and let the words come and settle as they are, volatile or tame, vers libre or form.” – the writer