friend, 

i’ve been thinking a lot about survival lately, how ice will still collect at the edges of windows even when the car is still warm. i’ve separated from my wife but she still calls me “hon.” what do you think caused all this? i’ve been thinking about that, mostly because you said i don’t think. maybe i do think it’s just not in order. nothing i do is safe. 

friend, 

the news says that we should think of stillness and wash our hands. i don’t want to work anymore; i don’t i don’t i do not. i don’t see a point. i ended my marriage but not the family. but what does that mean? i don’t see a point in explanation bc there isn’t one, or one that you’ll like anyway. the news says i shouldn’t touch my face so i cut my head off. 

friend, 

the news says california is closed and we need to breathe. tell me how to fix this, how to purge this virus so i can see you again. my wife acts like everything is normal until she’s mad at me. i don’t know what to do, do i wash my hands for 40 seconds? i’m trying to homeschool but i can’t get out of my emails. zoom. fucking gotomeetings. i cut up an apple for p and almost cried. i hug them too tight and they squeak. 

friend, 

i need to stop saying “my wife.” 

friend, 

i keep running everything in reverse. i keep snatching pieces of joy out of the aggregate. i’m worried that maybe i’m becoming codependent on memories i don’t even trust. how fucked is that? i can’t make enough hand sanitizer for our house so we set alarms for random hand washing. there’s bottles of bleach water everywhere the whole place stinks of antiseptic. antisocial. social distances. marital distances. 

 

friend, 

that’s what this feeling is: shame. i will tell you that separating from your wife is both hard and easy, but that has nothing to do with shame. i can also say that burying secrets, plantings like cotton, are a quick way to a long fall. surrendering is a shortcut to suffering, but we knew that already. didn’t we? but sometimes you leave your wife and still live with her. but that feeling isn’t shame it’s ___________. 

friend, 

am i annoying you yet? i was angry all the time. can we tell when poetry is a confessional? or a baptismal? confession: i never got baptized because i was afraid of the water i was convinced it was going to hurt me in some way. am i annoying you yet? i guess i needed to find that out. there’s so much i want to tell you. but i’m afraid it’s all poison. am i poisoning you yet? am i poisoning you yet? am i poisoning you yet? am i poisoning you yet? 

friend, 

what this feeling is is shame. shame is building a home of sticks while naked. shame is a son beaten for talking in church. what i’m telling you is i love you, what you’re hearing is they all say that when they hurt you. that is shame. shame is not leaving your wife if you need to. shame is this poem which is also poison which is also annoying you which is poison. 

friend, 

am i annoying you? my voice is an annoyance i hear in my own ears. i’m subjecting you to it. as soon as we got used to one another i destroyed us. as soon as i got used to your hand in mine i cut them off. am i annoying you? i’m annoying you aren’t i. i use my voice as an anchor. i was conditioned to talk when i didn’t want to. words in the air can never be taken back. i was getting back to being quiet. i can never shut my fucking mouth. am i annoying you yet? 

friend, 

that pearl jam line ‘restless soul, enjoy your youth’ keeps looping in my head. are you ok? i can’t stop wondering if the world is still working beyond my front door, if you’re actually there. are you there? i’m worried about stupid shit like cracks in the sidewalk and if i found a bottle of wine on the street what would i do with it and my job my job god my job i’m worried about my job what would happen to my job? are you ok? are you there? 

friend, 

walking is important. being able to eyeball 6’ distances is becoming a useful skill again. i have a constant fear of disappearing during this quarantine, falling into a ditch or a river and no one willing to save me bc of ‘no hand-shaking zones.’ walking is important. i go from door to a state of love and trust and back. stitching the sun when i see it knitting the rain into some kind of plague mask folding the wind into love letters to you. 

friend, 

poetry won’t be enough, will it? can poetry bridge this gap can poetry heal this sore place? cuomo told us that love will always win, love will get us through this. i believe in love and its particular crisis. i believe in love’s poetics and those sharp edges. poetry can’t filter our breath. poetry can’t magic you here. 

friend, 

i worry for your chest, how your anxiety is ratchet straps around you. i worry a lot. i had a dream i was digging a hole with my hands and weeping uncontrollably. i can’t tell if this was a stress dream or a love dream. i worry. water doesn’t hit the same way as whiskey. my eyes are bigger and my hands don’t shake any more. 

friend, 

i feel things are getting better at the end of the world.

 


 

One Response

  1. Beautiful. Raw and honest. Thank you so much for sharing all these vulnerable moments and thoughts and feelings in a time when it has become a revolutionary act to speak the truth.

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