Poems for the End of the World: The Illness of Spring 2020

I’m fine
after the shower my skin burned
might got a touch of that Yung Rona but I’m good
don’t worry about me, I worked out today and everything
I sweat past fever past illness past past
drink ginger drink vinegar drink broth
take B and C and D and zinc
elderberry nettle irish moss
pineapple ashwaganda

100 for two days, then gone
I slept and slept
cough came and came
head weighted piercing
sweated cleanly into
and through my sheets
so many days I still dance
through and against coughing breaks

people send videos and voice messages
conspiracies about where the virus came from
what “they don’t want you to know” about cures
how to blow dry up your nostrils and hop on one foot
why black people can’t get it
why it’s killing black people first
as if I don’t already write about the tortured history of
black people and medicine
as if my black grandmother didn’t work as a surgical tech for 30 years
as if she didn’t raise me washing my hands

101 for two days, then returned
as if I don’t already know the ins and outs of illness and conspiracies
as if I haven’t been my own primary caregiver for years
so I don’t tell them I’m sick
the last thing I want is their suggestions
or use my small energy calming their fears

101.5 for three days, then gone
I mean, I feel like I got a belt wrapped around my lungs
but I have rapped on stage in a corset more than once
I’m good, haven’t my lungs known wisdom and vice
enough to surrender to breath?
surrender I know well enough
to text my daughter somewhere in the midst of it

102 for one week, then returned
“. . . if it should get bad,
I’ll let you know.
And if it gets really really bad,
you’re my beneficiary
and everything I have is yours.
Not to be morbid.
You already know the passcode to my phone.”

we have both been through enough
not to cry about this
to trust wisdom for now and save theatrics
for a more reasonable quiet.


I’m on round 3
of what is probably the virus
as I write this I remember
tomorrow was never promised.

I hope I did enough with my life.
(I still got plenty to do)
I hope I loved hard enough
(I might have loved too hard

so hard I got distracted from my work,
which is another kind of love,
a less specific all-god’s-children kind of love,
burns longer, quieter, enough to light another fire.)

Maybe I got too caught up frivolous and focused
on a single man’s cheek bones or voice, hands,
whistling him in and around my thoughts
and probably wasting precious time.

Maybe I should have loved myself harder?
Or scooped my flesh out by my own hands full
offering it to every passerby?
Are cannibals god’s children too?

I fall asleep every night curled up with a question
but at least I have insurance and money in the bank.
If there are still banks tomorrow.
If there is still tomorrow.

I go back and forth writing about myself
in past and present tense.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s