To visit Martin's writing website, press here.

May 31, 2020

The Quarantine Chronicles, Day 47

DAY 47: The Death of Decency --
what about being good, kind, how
many points does it count
-- I don't know (we never really
know) but a Jane Goodall, a
Jimmy Carter, a Fred Rogers, a
Michelle -- what happened?
Where are the ones who don't
advertise themselves, who don't
wait until the cameras are
rolling, don't let their greed
show, their malice, their
vanity -- where are the revolutionary
resolutary donations from billionaires
of their entire fortunes, anon-
ymously, now, do it now -- or are 
Bloomberg and Steyer still hiding 
in a basement playing penny-ante 
with no one keeping score?
We need help we're not getting.
the rest of the world used to 
have confidence that the US (us)
would be there in a crisis (we
got your backs, LOL) now the
betrayals of only 3 years
are so bad that other countries turn
away, don't even think of helping the USA
now that we're on our knees --
rolling in our own filth, screaming nonsense,
foaming mouths, bloody eyes popping out --
since we don't even help ourselves
or rather, we've always helped ourselves
gorged ourselves at the banquet without 
the decency to share the table. Just desserts.
I answered my own question.

May 30, 2020

The Quarantine Chronicles, Day 46

DAY 46: Human sacrifices -- oh, how
primitive! Those ancients were
savage, horrible, bowing down to idols.
2-3% of the population already
marked with indelible ink, they tell us 
today, they being the 1% we chose as 
leaders, capitalists, makers of money, not
work not creation not humble goodness --
they got their pile, their pile so high
it looks like Mount Everest in the clouds 
in the sky and now the payment
is due -- 2-3% will die 
to reopen factories and malls
burger kings and bowling alleys
poodle clippers and porn shops --
we gladly kill the chosen
the elders, the weak, the kids
the strong, the famous, the
parents of the future parentless
generation -- we sacrifice another
2-3% for GOD DOLLAR
          Booga booga!
to get our money machine 
running again to pull those
levers and chains, on the
chain gang, to push the worker-
slaves with cattle prods back
to pumping gold-red plasma
into the Masters' arms -- we
have chosen, sad as it is, money
sass talks, life is cheap, religion
trumped by true religion,
order trumped by first order --
let's go then! let's start killing!

May 29, 2020

The Quarantine Chronicles, Day 45

DAY 45: When the churches close
I don't give a care, pray at
home, get married next year
not the end of the world like dying is
ah, but funerals -- what happens to 
the corpus spiritus, our collective
psyche and emotional health
when there are no funerals, no send-offs,
when our dearest loved ones, spouses,
children, parents, best friends
beloved grandparents, aunts and
uncles disappear without a
trace, without the closure, the
formality of crying at a funeral
the unsatisfactory poetry
the memories drifting upwards
on the soul of the one you loved
the extended family going out
to lunch afterwards or all
gathering back in the living
room, glasses in hand -- if we have 
no endings, did we ever begin, did we
ever build relationships, did we
do good or be good? Johnny?
if we let people vanish
without a blip like in a 
horror film, apocalyptic blip
disappearances, kids, spouses
your very blip own blip dearly beloved
-- you won't find them by tracing
their cell phones, kidnapped
in an abandoned factory
tied to a folding chair, face covered
with a black cloth bag hiding fake blood
no, they just went abracadabra
poof! -- GONE, here today, hug
and love, celebrate and
cherish, because tomorrow --
silence, nothingness, poof, gone.

May 28, 2020

The Quarantine Chronicles, Day 44

DAY 44: Supplies -- I have my meds
peanut butter and coffee
I have a moment of weakness
to curl up like my cat on the
floor, but I don't
I have consternation and
condemnation for the inept
and malicious ones making
decisions on my life -- like in
war, they say, when they
point -- you live, you go. The
inept and malicious command
but never lead, they force 
the enemies and coerce
their (cult) followers to get their
way or pout and whine -- I am
sick of the scams as much as
the virus -- you lie, someone
dies -- wanna buy a mask?
no, I have peanut butter
and coffee, I am uncomfortable
but not going outside, I am not
going out, even if my governor
says I can, even if a doctor
says I can, even if everyone
else does, I'll let them taste
the stew -- and wait to see
who keels over, I have
enough survival instinct to
last longer than my neighbor
who just must absolutely go golfing again
or get that Sunday waffle breakfast
-- his drug, his supply,
his gran finale.

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
I don't want to die
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
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 --
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 --
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
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.