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May 27, 2020

The Quarantine Chronicles, Day 43

DAY 43: Is it -- all about that bass? --
all about money? ca-ching?
Life and life and death
pain loss sadness tragedy plague
my mother just died
my uncle Bob, my kid was strong
an athlete -- how did you get
sick? -- stay inside, with pride
help the helpers help
you know the economy be 
damned, there are more
important things than money --
wait, a ventilator costs 17 thousand,
do I hear 20, 20, do I hear 30 thou? --
my state my hospital my town is
broke, those checks for the unemployed
vanished? we need our beans and
rice! -- I'm cutting your funds, I'm asking
for donations, I'm donating
.0001 of our brand's yearly profits 
without cutting my own bonus, how much
did Mr. Billionaire donate so far? why
doesn't he build COVID hospitals?
W.H.O.? and we need to open the donut shops
and the "massage" parlors for a stroke
to get the economy up and gushing --
while you can hear the shush of
last breaths if you listen intently -- we need to
get the production-consumption wheel
spinning -- while the streets are
still full of coffins, coffins blocking
every road to the city center, coffins
with no money inside, and an
empty coffin here with your
name on it
written on a post-it
not embossed in gold
leaf yet.


May 26, 2020

The Quarantine Chronicles, Day 42

DAY42: Good mourning, America!
I know where good America is,
but where is the mourning?
Where is the grief? I can't find it.
We cry from fear, sadness and anxiety,
but who's crying for the dead? Besides
relatives, who's mourning? Are our heart 
flags lowered at half mast? Do we feel the 
loss? 23,000, 18,000, 57,000, 103, 000 -- is
this a too many numbers game, that's all
we get from the news, and the occasional
famous person or distant relation passed
on, but where is the real numberless mourning
for one dead individual, each one, everyone who
was loved, who left a mark? slowly one by one.
I propose a worldwide moment of silence for each 
one rising -- years and years of silent commemoration.
In the movies, where we've lived
through pandemics before and
we brave protagonists -- beautiful
clever, huge made-up faces and sprayed-down hair --
we survived at the last second
we -- hallelujah -- made it
though most of humanity died
oh well --
there's no mourning there either, just
kisses and credits -- in our nightmares, only
fear, of our own selfish death
being chased by the reaper, running in panic
-- but where's the mourning for
others? is this a narcissism joke?
a paranoia joke? another covid joke?
I hear people laughing, I hear
people talking about money, I hear
people eating with their families
but when that one sad chair is empty
they seem relieved to be there
-- not mourning, it's so hard, as
they/we should, we know we should
we know we must
why don't we?

May 25, 2020

The Quarantine Chronicles, Day 41

DAY 41: Italy vs. USA, world cup
my choice who to root for, my choice
the exile the ex-pat the chooser
I came here, I stayed
I found a home in another's
heart/arms/town with two cats in the
yard (life used to be so hard)
after a century it's still not home
it's okay, but I don't get them
they wouldn't get me either 
if they ever tried
I don't fit in, not one with my
surroundings, not immersed in a
cosmic meditative state like back
in the golden state.
is everybody blocked in high
school growing grey but
hair's still combed that same way?
who cares, my brothers are
there, my parents' graves, my
American house in an American
town -- we're an American band,
singing -- "Don't I Wish I Was There?"
or is here okay, here/there, hunkered 
down with my life-partner, cat, 
work, dream house, and public
healthcare. I can't imagine
risking my life to return to that
advanced sophisticated functioning 
America because it is not -- Trump 
broke it. Crack! Too easy. like a breadstick.
until it's fixed, I'm staying here, holing up
where they don't mess around -- Stay home
means it. Nobody's out. Hashtag. No, I don't 
wish I were back in California, my 
California -- no don't 
no, or yes, a little bit, closer
it's just too long a swim
my shoulders are tired
and nobody here can call
out my name.

May 24, 2020

The Quarantine Chronicles, Day 40

DAY 40: They tell you:
everyone is born alone and dies
alone, you die alone for sure
but they won't tell you when
otherwise
I don't want to die
alone
shipped out of my own sick bed
into an ambulance, the gurney
boys bumping my head going down
the stairs -- ouch --
into the sick bay, take off your 
ring, please, it won't come off
-- my family said goodbye back
there like they'd never see me again.
-- I'm stripped and hooked up
monitors, tubes, bottles and machines
up my nose, then down my throat, into 
my flacid air-sacks which hurt so bad
-- can I make one last video call --
I don't know what to say
I can't talk with an air-pump down
into my dripping red lungs -- I sit and wait
watch as they wheel the unfortunates out
the back, into a bag and/or a box,
into a military truck down to an open
pit or a hot oven (hell?) -- no one can
visit us, we can't see the helpers
who go about their business like ghosts
we only see their tired eyes, which say
-- at this point --
you die alone --
okay, but I
I didn't believe them, until now
I didn't get it.

May 23, 2020

The Quarantine Chronicles, Day 39

DAY 39: When and if, when and if
shit breaks down, it all goes to hell,
I can't get a good connection
for web teaching -- make do, but but
if my wi-fi shuts down
if the lights go off
if no water comes from the faucet
if there's no heat in winter
if the hospitals close
you're on your own
when shit breaks down
no TV
no Netflix
no more news or numbers
no power tools in the kitchen
no fridge
dishwasher, washing machine
let's move, nope no roads open
car battery's dead anyway
then we are totally fucked
there's no 'make do' then
then it's back to the stone age
in a few weeks, surprise!
better get yourself a gun
to turn this way or that
when shit breaks down
our government already has
lots of farting noise with no
substance, no production
no distribution
what shall we do? what shall
we do?
hug and die, lay down or walk
regret we didn't prepare better
for all the shit that could
conceivably
break down.

May 22, 2020

The Quarantine Chronicles, Day 38

DAY 38: Oops Factor -- when shit
goes wrong -- no, you probably
won't get infected if you go run on
the beach alone -- Oops, you did
somehow and now you're dying,
in ICU on a ventilator, she/he's
strong, they'll make it, we'll pray,
Oops out the backdoor in a coffin
straight to the crematorium, no
family allowed near, we'll send you
the ashes if the postal service is
ever working again -- I'm wearing
gloves, so there, Oops, when I 
touched shit then took gloves off
wrong I got germs on my hands
touched my eye before washing up
-- it itched -- then, nothing, I felt okay
Oops fever, fever all through the night,
there's no saying you're sorry, when
you infect someone, they could be
gone, when you had that tupperware
party everyone seemed healthy --
there's no regrets, no going back --
NO OOPS -- it's death, baby
the final frontier, the one Kirk, Spock,
Sulu and Uhura never met, you could
go there easy -- where no one has gone
before -- mass graves, piles of boxes
boxes of ashes -- way too late
for do-overs.

May 21, 2020

The Quarantine Chronicles, Day 37

DAY 37: Additional fuck yous go to:
the people who had a party on the roof
of our apartment building yesterday --
FUCK YOU, STAY HOME, STAY APART, the 
countries like Sweden that refuse to lock-down, you
kill yourselves and us too -- FUCK YOU
the US that just seems completely stupid
or evil all the way round -- F. YOU
people going to church, weddings, funerals --
FUCK YOU, TO ALL RELIGIONS THAT
CHEAPEN HUMAN LIFE (especially those
that say they don't) people who can't find
a mental hunkerdown and whine like babies
all the time -- you are spreading the antsy whimpy
whining cry-baby virus -- SHUT UP AND COPE!
self-discipline is a thing
learn it, practice it, embrace it, GROW
THE FUCK UP, those who praise doctors
and nurses and find every excuse to
go out -- YOU ARE HYPOCRITES
the doctors and nurses asked us, begged
us, to stay home to help them, for weeks 
or months, okay it's hard, we all crack, but
we do it for them, without complaint and
then for ourselves, their potential failures 
("oh damn, time of death ...") --
in the front door out the back in a box
like an assembly line of death that we must
break, stop, honor and interrupt.

May 20, 2020

The Quarantine Chronicles, Day 36

DAY 36: Warning: not for children:
or those sensitive to the rage
that profanity contains:

I'm distributing fucks today:
to any company trying to exploit the 
virus to make money -- FUCK YOU!
to any company that puts heart-
breaking references to the pandemic
in their advertising -- WE SEE YOU,
FUCK YOU! to any rich person who's 
donating a puny part of their wealth to get
good publicity for themselves and their ilk --
FUCK YOU, DONATE ANONYMOUSLY
to Jeff Bezos, who donated a ton of
money equivalent to 11 minutes of
his earnings year-round 24/7 --
FUCK YOU, MAN! to any polit-
ician who comes out publicly with
something to make themselves look
good, to improve their ratings in the
polls during a quarantine -- FUCK YOU
to those who contest every well-intentioned
provision because we are trained
to squabble over the details -- F.U.
to anyone who goes out in a quarantine
because they're just fed up with being
a prisoner -- FUCK YOU, YOU SHOULD BE
A PRISONER, it's way worse than this,
to journalists who lie, bend or emphasize the
positive to give us all a bit more hope --
FUCK YOU, TELL THE UGLY TRUTH,
hope is our job -- and to Donald John Trump
his cronies and worshippers -- JUST FUCK
YOU, put on a mask, go wash your hands, 
those blood stains look terrible.

May 19, 2020

The Quarantine Chronicles, Day 35

DAY 35: I stand accused, I stand 
accused of enjoying the quarantine
I deny I protest I am innocent
and my thoughts go to next summer
my training continues for the 
hard long trail I've planned
a hard long trail such as every
summer I walk: food, water
shelter on my back -- I alone
against the elements, embracing
the trail day after spectacular day --
now I am alone and again
surviving -- what if my excursions
were practice for refuge -- I
hear screams of the lost who
cannot leave home, what
tremendous suffering I can
barely feel -- screams of those
who have little food, no choc-
olate, no pizza pie -- have you not
also gone 2 x 20-mile days on
nothing, have you never got to
a dry creek counting on a 
drink -- screams of those
alone with themselves a life as
of mirror imaging they cannot
stand after the first day
-- that's not my best friend,
I want to kill that stranger --
I hear all this suffering and
feel pity for those who are meeting
it for the first time, but
I don't offer my helping hand.

May 18, 2020

The Quarantine Chronicles, Day 34

DAY 34: While the war is on, we're
being bombarded, we're trapped in
the dark underground, sirens blaring
we can't talk or think only smell
the stink -- do good things happen?
does love? does satisfaction?
when the grief is bad, John Prine
dies, we're all so sad, kind
like a bunch of humans in
trouble, separated one continent
width apart, alone in life
alone in death -- do good
things happen? can we balance
this out? not all bad, hunters
have found noise pollution
and air pollution diminish
though real serious ecological
damage remains -- the coral
is bleaching, the ice still
melts, temperature rises,
animals disappearing, insects
breathe through your mouth
and intellectuals who refuse
human interaction say that
fewer humans is a good 
reaction -- I say how many need
to die for you to love someone?
and the haters, scammers and fanatics
say
it's punishment for loving gays
-- fuck you too.

May 17, 2020

The Quarantine Chronicles, Day 33

DAY 33: What's that sound, oh my
what's that sound -- is it Boris 
Johnson's respirator's swish and gurgle - no,
it's a garbage truck, a rare early morning racket
and the magpies nagging cawing
old man snoring after a sleepless night
no hydrofoils anymore, they were noisy
no autostrada drone
I hear the dog barks more
than loud talking or cars
honking -- I'm here to pick you
up -- I'm here, I exist, I
make sound -- but this
machine, this ventilator we're
all so hooked on, the oxygen
fix we all want so much
even if only on TV following
up and down the wards in and
out we breathe in time with
those who might make it
or might go silent
beep, shut it down
no dogs or birds on the ward
no mechanical hum
no hum except this whisper
in my ears I can't shake
my lack of equilibrium
made a strident A# note
to keep me company
telling me secrets
all the way.