Ray McNiece

Try to figure the day when Tuesday could be Thursday.
Check the calendar. Check the daily heart pill case
I forgot to fill. They’re just little boxes to fill.
Given days. And any day
could be the week end.

Inventory things I haven’t touched (in a time of no
touching) during the last year. Decide
what I can discard. Most things.

Touch the objects on my altar, dust
them, see the dust in the ridges of my fingers,
realize I’m the same dust.

Wash my hands again
after picking my nose.
Maybe OCD in DNA
is natural selection these days.

Acknowledge my addiction
to distraction. Vow not
to check my face book feed,
Check my feed.
Avoid click bait.
Worry our leaders are addicted
to destruction.

Study the red bud on the grey maple branch
just outside the window.
Enjoy that Spring goes on.
Picture the alveoli of an old woman’s lungs
unable to open
Follow her gurney to the corner
of the nursing home alone.

Look through haphazard basement
library for Camus’ the Plague.
Never find it.  Begin
the great American plague novel.
Realize so is every other writer.
Realize we all die anyway.

Check my Apocalypse Bingo card —
I did not have pandemic either.
I picked world wide drought.

Read up on viruses.
Speculate on the viral origins of life on earth.

“The lipid membrane is easily washed away.”
Wash my hands again.
“And easily attaches to lung tissue.”
Regret all the tokes I took.
Take another toke.

Sit still and breathe.
Focus on breath.
Fear Covid is airborne.
No way to stop breathing but one.

Reread the Book of Revelations.
Count which seal has already been revealed.

Watch the news. Fixate on the enlarged picture of the virus
bouncing around the big screen behind
the talking heads.  It’s bigger than their heads
as they say, “We’re all in this together.”

Give my fears a shape, a name: Sid, the Covid Virus.

Picture the virus as a holiday orange stuck with cloves.
remember my mother’s story of getting an orange as a Christmas present
during the depression, with a penny stuck in it.

Morph that picture into Trump’s head,  fake carbuncular hair, orange
twisted face.  Are lies the deadlier virus?

Go through the dresser drawer, pair lost socks.
Fold t-shirts. Every task can be a sacrament.
Try to infuse being into each doing.
Realize multi-tasking was a way to keep up
with a country careening out of control
when nature is really in control.

Find the 357th rough draft of a poem
in my reread journals, add it to the to do list.

Consider taking up whittling.
I may need the knife for self defense
Remember collecting
coins as a boy.  Wonder where they are now.

Widen my ears.  Hear less cars.
But still sirens.  Hear spring bird songs, the blue jay
actually sings during mating season rather than
its usual squawking.

Measure time by moving the chair around
on the deck to stay warm in this cold Spring Day.

Notice the clarity and breath the quality of air
free of civilization’s exhaust.

The sunlight on the blue hyacinths!
Bright robin egg blue sky.
Aha moments.
Blah moments.
Be grateful for both.

Take a good long hot shower until just before
the hot water runs out.

Clean out old emails. Delete expired addresses
and emails from dead friends.  Keep them.
Count how many people I know
have died from Covid-19.  Three
so far. Four if you count suicide.

Try to stay upbeat. Courage is not
scaring others.

Study the red maple buds again. Wait.

RAY MCNIECE is the author of nine books of poems and monologues and Haiku.  He toured Russia with Yevgeny Yevtushenko and Italy with Lawrence Ferlinghetti. He is the current Poet Laureate of Cleveland Heights.