We whisper in the kitchen,
So as not to disturb his slumber,
Tiptoe tiptoe tiptoe is all we do,
To let him sleep, not trigger the bomb,
The bomb goes by many names,
Anxiety, depression, possibly bipolar,
Send him plethoric at minuscule matters,
Strained relationships over scruples,
Not one to hit, but verbal iniquity,
Is what made mother stay,
Safety presumed, though in reality,
Arrows strike merely inches nearby,
Every word, though carefully articulated,
Actuated attack, demanded a win,
Eyebrows adhere permanent expression,
Of one who's relief cannot ebb,
Cannot make a decision with him,
Cannot choose a thing without,
No matter the ways you go about it,
We all suffer one man's lack of peace.
Over and Over
You are fine.
You haven’t been hurt;
there are no bruises,
no broken arms.
He didn’t touch you.
He never forced himself on you.
He didn’t do anything to you,
it didn’t happen.
It was just,
He still loves you.
l o v e s
He didn’t mean it.
You are just overreacting.
You wanted to show him
you wanted to see
He never called you a bitch
or a slut
or just a woman,
it was just once,
a meaningless thing.
He didn’t hurt you.
isn’t broken over
He only said them
a couple of times.
You deserved to hear them.
He didn’t mean them.
You are overreacting.
He wants you,
you want him.
You want sex.
You want it.
You asked for it.
He never touched you.
You were drinking,
you didn’t know what was real,
it wasn’t real,
he loves you.
f i n e.
YOU ARE FINE.
YOU ARE FINE.
YOU ARE FINE.
(I am not fine, please help me).
Just keep shaving.
The most moving moment in the zombie-plague film 28 Days Later involves no death or speech or kiss. It’s Cillian Murphy shaving.
Having fled from zombies for days with some others, Murphy’s character reaches a high rise where a father and daughter have successfully barricaded themselves. They talk and they plan, and I believe they talk about the loss of the girl’s mother - so many years after viewing the movie, I cannot recall most of the details. I just remember the speechless scene that follows.
Murphy stands in front a mirror with his unkempt beard stretching far down his neck. It’s less beard and more furband, really. There is no shaving cream, and there is only cold water. The razor is dull. It’s a scraping, unpleasant shave. But he does it.
Murphy steps out of the bathroom. From the first moments we saw him, waking from a coma in a desolated hospital, he has had this bedraggled facial hair. Now, cleanshaven, the people he has been with are taken aback. It’s tempting to say he transformed. But really, he reclaimed himself.
Despite the chaos around him, he wanted to shave because he insisted on his humanity. To do otherwise would be an overreaction: when things are bad, we must not give in to despair, because there is more hope than we see. Fear is normal - he had fled from a zombie horde, after all - but he refused to sacrifice his humanity to it, even holed up in a tiny apartment.
The coronavirus has not reached my New York county yet, officially, but it’s hard to say what adequate testing will soon reveal. Our appointments and social engagements have been cancelled. As a teacher I will attend a conference day tomorrow, and I will see my students for one more day Tuesday before the state of emergency goes into effect. Then, I will not see them again for nearly a month.
I’m going to offer my students some books, a bit of work I will try to persuade them to do. I’m going to hand out a recommended Netflix watch list, and I’ll schedule some Zoom conferences for anyone who is hungry for some academic interaction, either about A Series of Unfortunate Events (Neil Patrick Harris rocks) or the books. I'll ensure my daughters at home keep getting some education. I do not know when they will next see their grandparents, but we'll have regular "read with Grandma and Grandpa" times on Skype. I'll probably have a lot more time for Prose than I've had lately. I'll keep an eye out for a local need for volunteers to deliver meals for seniors, which I think will likely be coming.
I won't be going out unless I need to, but I'll shave anyway.
After my freshman year of college I landed at internship in Pittsburgh, and one morning an ugly traffic snarl brought all the commuters on I-79 to a complete standstill for two hours. People got out of their cars and chatted. A few people tossed a football back and forth in the median. I can't help but wonder what let through more of our humanity that day: the morning commute we began like every day, or that standstill?
Let's flatten the curve, guys. And even as we socially distance, let's be human to one another. And ourselves.
I don’t care how you react.
Y O U R R E A C T I O N
Elvis Presley’s naval
This guy with a cowboy hat and connect the dot overly dramatic freckles asked me where the nearest bus stop was and I told him, "Half past Elvis Presley's naval," and not too surprisingly he knew exactly where to go without further ado. When you live in or visit an artsy-fartsy town like mine, mostly every Joe Schmo bopping down any alternate side of the block knows the legal and illegal graffiti better than a street sign spelled Main, or Banks, or Riverdale.
"Going my way?" Seemed quite unnecessary to say for this guy as much as it did for me, because he ran from me at the "l" in naval like I stunk or had the plague. Anyway, I am not in the habit of making friends on my way to work, nor on the way home, and also between the hours of 12:00 o'clock p.m to 11:59 a.m. if you catch my drift. Who needs friends when you've got a paintbrush, a canvas and an eye?
The bus driver, Hank, (and I only know his name because he has a sign on his windshield visor that says "Hi. I'm Hank") knows me better than I know him because he's the type of guy that loves what he does; a people person, it's obvious, because it shows in his crow's feet and loose limbs and the way he never fails to personably greet every Tom, Dick and Jane. He doesn't know my real name but that didn't stop him from gratuitously assigning me one. He calls me Michelangelo. And he sorta sings it when he addresses me, Pavarotti style and I sorta like it, like I like potato chips. Michelangelo. Not to be confused with Ninja Turtle Michelangelo, as in the High Renaissance Michelangelo, at least that's what I assume he believes by the way he eyes the paint stains under my fingers when I pay for my fare.
But on this particular day Hank looked at me fearfully when I went to pay my fare and he didn't bellow my name operatically, but rather cleared his throat in the same way my grandmother would at the dinner table when my father had too much to drink, and tilted his head back and to the side as if to warn me of something supernatural, something evil, and it was when I looked away from him towards my seat that I knew. Joe Schmo was sitting in my seat, and everyone that rides the "B" picked up at my stop knows, especially Hank, that the window seat, second row on the left belongs to Michelangelo.
"I tried to tell him and he didn't listen," said Hank so low that I thought perhaps he had laryngitis.
Like white on rice I converged on this asshole also named Whodoeshethinkheis with my fists in the air and one knee up making me wonder for a split second in the midst of my rage if Hank had meant the other Michelangelo all along.
Apparently, Whodoeshethinkheis a.k.a. Joe Schmo was groovin' intently to whatever the hell he was listening to on his earbuds and lucky for him he must have seen me approaching out of his peripheral just before he got clocked in the kisser with my right Doc Marten by ducking and then jumping up firmly, erected, coinfidentantly and said, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold up your friggin horses buddy! What's your problem? Where I come from bus drivers don't hold seats for people. If this damn seat means so much to you, then take it damn it!"
And he gallantly pushed past me, animated, looking like a badass cowboy in a black and white Spaghetti Western.
And I took it. My seat. And I sat, instantly forgetting I had ever laid eyes upon Joe Schmo, and even Hank for that matter, adjusting my butt cheeks comfortably right where they belong against the grain of the worn pleather, just in time to see Elvis' naval fading from my view.
I'm overthinking, undereating,
haven't slept in days;
a cacoethes haunts my being-
how my loins do blaze.
I'm dauntless, talkative, exultant-
seraphic fantasy enchantment,
how I wish you'd stay.
Assistance to Register Two
Old men with boxes full of pretty princess hand sanitizer, greedy women clutching toilet paper like it's her very breath of life, people hoarding bananas like the monkeys have come to visit...
"Your total is fifty-three dollars and seventy cents?" the cashier asked with her last ounce of draining enthusiasm. "I know! I know! Don't rush me. Just shut up and let me concentrate! Don't you know it's the end of the world here?" the woman yelled, viciously stirring through her purse, "Just shut up and let me find my dang-on money, lady!" The cashier looked up behind the rude woman to see a long line of angry-looking customers clenching on tightly to their packs of toilet paper and bottles of hand sanitizer. "Huh," the woman huffed as she threw a fifty dollar bill onto the counter. "Excuse me, ma'am?" the cashier gaped in shock, "You gave me the wrong amount." "Keep the change, though you don't deserve it," the woman scoffed, walking away. "No, I mean, this isn't enough," the cashier called, "You still owe me three dollars and seventy cents!" "Don't you raise your voice at me! This generation never learned how to respect their elders?" the woman screamed, not even looking back. The cashier stood in total disbelief holding the fifty dollar bill.
"Ma'am, I'm next in line thank you," a man said in an authoritative tone. "I'm sorry. It's just that now my drawer is going to be nearly four dollars short," the cashier pouted. "Heh, not my problem, lady," the man laughed, "Now ring me up, will ya?" Shaking her head, she placed the fifty dollars into her till and began scanning the man's items.
After ten more rude customers, the cashier began to feel woozy. "Manager assistance to register two," she called weakly over the intercom. "Come on now, you don't got no time to be talkin' on no phone," the next customer said, rolling her eyes and smacking her gum. "I'm sorry. I was calling the manager," the cashier breathed, "I don't feel well." "AWWW heckie nawww! Don't tell me you done got that corona," the lady screamed, "Okay, tell you what, don't touch none of my stuff, okay. Just put it in manual." "But, ma'am," the cashier started, attempting to use her nicest voice, "I need to see the barcode so that I can type in the number." "Uh uh. No, you don't. I used to work in retail. It's a button on the register," the lady said nonchalantly. "But I'm supposed to scan each item for inventory purposes, and to make sure I'm charging you the right price," the cashier retorted. "Pfft, girl, please. I know the prices of all this stuff. Don't you got a sales paper up here? You can just go off of that, can't you?" the lady said shaking her head. "Well, ma'am, I'm going to at least need you to remove the items from your cart," the cashier pleaded. "Naww," the lady said in disagreement, "You can see what I got from up there, cain't you?" "I actually can't," the cashier drawled. "Well then you blinder than a mug," the lady clicked and turned, pushing the cart directly through the doors without paying. The sensors went off, but the security guard waved her through with a smile. "Oh, come on! Seriously?" the cashier whispered to herself.
"Ma'am," a voice called from the line, "I'm trying to be nice, but I left my children home alone, my husband is at work, and I'm freaking tired of standing in this long line. Don't you have any help?" "I'm sorry, but everyone called off sick today," the cashier yelled back. "Wow," someone else added, "Can't you call a manager?" "I did, and they haven't got here yet," the cashier puffed. She tried to breathe, but her lungs wouldn't take any air. The dull lighting began to flash all around her. "Well, lady, aren't you going to start ringing?" the next customer shouted. The cashier reached for the bottle of hand sanitizer and tried to scan it on the belt, when, suddenly, she blacked out. Clutching her stomach, she fell back onto the tile floor. "Hello? Seriously?" the customer smirked, "Is this some kind of joke? She just fell out on me like that? Who's going to ring me up now?"
I’m in Antarctica...
Coldness and snow from Antarctica sans penguins says whassup
Yup, seems like sudden winter ate present summer in one gulp
So Ice cubes and spheres knocks my head telling me lol
My shiver is like electric currents generated from a waterfall
I’ll strangle my sister if she again pours water on me to wake me up
I’m Not a Control Freak
I’m not a control freak, I just want you to clean the crumbs off the floor after you’ve made a sandwich. And if you could reseal the bread and put the butter-stained knife in the sink, that would be good too. I don’t even understand how you manage to line the entire kitchen floor with breadcrumbs. Is this some weird Hansel and Gretel parody that you’re trying out?
I’m not a control freak, really, but can you wipe the bathroom floor after you’ve gotten out of the bath. I know the local swimming pool closed down, but you don’t need to do a recreation of how it used to look. I can’t even swim. While we’re on the subject on the bathroom, can you wipe the toilet and surrounded floor area after you’ve finished doing your business? Better yet, get a better aim.
I really don’t think I’m a control freak, but I would love it if you didn’t come home and put all your bags on the bed. I’ve seen you put them down on the floor outside; the same floor covered in mud and people’s spit. If I wanted those germs on the bed I’d take the duvet outside and drag it across the floor myself, but I suppose you’d think that was a strange thing to do.
I have to insist it’s not me being a control freak, when I ask to cover your mouth when you sneeze. As much as I love you, I have no desire to be covered in your bodily fluids.
I AM NOT A CONTROL FREAK!
Maybe I’m overreacting
but this is all too much
and I don’t really think it’s worth it anymore.