corona in perspective

by Julien B., 16

I
I’m glad my grandma isn’t around
For these times of fever and little sleep
Because she’d worry and only buy cheap
Things—she’d lie in bed with her soul wound
Tight while wondering why she’s alive
In a time when the air is holding our fear
No one can hear her shout for her dear
Son to come give her oxygen to survive
She’s watched him growing up in her clutches
She now feels his music that she can’t help but play
Just this once, and she shouts her voice through
Calling out ‘til her cries for human touch
Run ahead through the night toward better days
While she views the pandemic on the news

II
Chapter 1:
We who view the pandemic on the news
Cry for the thousands of our dead brethren
To share the pain of loss we are now veterans
Of humility, we fight and unite so as not to lose
Our faith.
Chapter 2:
We who live as the pandemic on the news
Who travel in the caravan towards the west
Caged in detention centers and orange vests
Our camps filthy, we can only pray in pews
Of rotten blood.
Chapter 3:
I can only watch my people on the news
If bodies could rust I’d be falling apart
They seem dessicated, drowned and pliant
My brethren over on the edge of the world
My living room a temple for grief’s own mark
What can you see in the eyes of the silent
Strangers on the border?

III
What can you see in the eyes of the silent
Men who lost the battle, whose bloody selves
Lie strewn among scattered fields of violent
Carnage? Frontline Walmart workers ravage shelves
Even as packages are ripped out of their arms.
Drops of dew fade until all that remains
Are corpses in the grass and the baleful charm
Of the enemy under which our ancestors are maimed.
I can only see moments in the eyes of the silent
Man that lost the battle. He shall grow not old,
As we that are left grow old: the enemy invades
The suburbs of his flesh on the now-violent
Homefront—a man sighs then gently turns to mold
A casualty of fate on this Great Plague’s crusade.

IV
A casualty of fate on this Great Plague’s crusade
Dust are the blood-red hearts which beat to these measures
She takes the crimson currents back for Herself as treasures
As recompense for the wounds that have yet to fade
She takes our breath as we have taken Hers for years
Our breasts tremble under Her retributive might
As Hers rise and fall with the tide in the smoggy night
6 feet deep they taste the Great Plague’s tears
Rice paddies breathe when the locusts stay home
Her eyelids open to the heavens as She prays once more
We gather at a distance for her pre-mortem revelry
Coyotes are Her coroners, howling to Her fading storm
The raccoons crawl through the empty jungle-land floor
Before once more Her canals clog, snuffing Her melody.

V
Before once more her canals clog, snuffing her melody,
I’d like to perform for my friend in the hospital bed,
She’ll listen to my virtuosic embrace, listless and dead
For what use is a music degree save for an ethereal elegy?
Then I, my timid service done, can bite my nails once more
And search for an online gig in this money-starved moor
For want of orchestral festivity, the after-9pm air is mute
On these plains there is only the wind, mimicking the flute
But when I play for that woman with no road ahead
Caught in arts neurosis, though she can scarcely see the screen,
Through the Zoom-meet I can only feel the acceptance in her face
Of the end—the notes are scissors to her thread
She sees herself on the computer in a grayed-out sheen
She feels what I feel and smiles as our connection transcends space.

VI
Their connections transcend space; the baristas lie in the gutter
A trash bag wanders along the now-empty pier
And the half-crumbled boardwalk can’t help but shudder
Under the bemoaned wail of the Ferris-wheel’s gears
We’d go there in the throes of youth to numb our pain
To stuff our faces in kettle corn and chat up a stranger
To shoot a man and win a pony, to soar on a Sea Plane
To glut in carn(iv)al debauchery and to disregard danger
Tonight I’ll settle among the ashes of the boardwalk
For the baristas have fallen to a land far from here
This long pleasure shore died in us today
See the Ferris-Wheel, whose subjects have turned to chalk
Stains on hands that scoop litter beneath the rotten pier
Sick of the bloated stench wafting our way.

VII
I’m sick of the bloated stench wafting my way
This is the Year of the Mask and the Nurse
I wonder if anyone can see me through the
Kitchen window as I walk back and forth
From the desk to the sofa to the bed
A normal pattern that creeps up and suffocates
Bit by bit—rust on the doornail, mold on the
Parsnips, a plastic bag over my head and neck
Squeezing, squeezing, snapping sticks, smashing
Bones, rotting by the fridge; I’m in an amber maze
When I stand naked in the shower to be found
Years later in statuesque perfection, and the only
Ringing is the porch chime that says ‘This is yours to decide
And yours to remember.” I’m glad my grandma isn’t around.

Washington, DC