Plague Poems #14
Plague Poems #16

Plague Poems #15

PandemicMoi

It's Friday, and Tiki Bar will be open later. PM me if you want an invite.

Happy Hour

Every Friday
they flash like fireflies
onto my screen:
Boop! A new face,
caught unaware and pleading
(please work please work please work)
before the connection goes live
to four time zones and
a half-dozen or more shifting urbanities
—Greenville, Chicago, Oakland, Augusta,
Winnipeg, Lansing, L.A.—
New York City
the hub of a web of friendships
suddenly tenuous and fragile.

Week one it was still novel
like the virus itself,
sheltering inside and
using the tools of the masters
to keep us connected
in our own houses.
We dubbed the screen arrangement of ourselves
the Brady Bunch, still lighthearted
—but so socially distanced it was painful—
the meaning of the pandemic
still unclear and surreal,
its impacts still occult.

Weeks two and three contained a
restlessness under the joy of new faces,
of books, recipes, trenchant analysis, even
a defiant merrymaking
in the face of lives
ground to a halt—quarantine
like sand in the gears—
and in the hands of a murderous, incompetent fool.

By weeks four and five
some of us were fractious, or
making mad plans
to build our own green screens
to fill with fantasy backgrounds
to entertain each other and fool ourselves, or
hanging string lights
to make it feel like a real party
here at the end of the world,
all the while
beginning to fray and break
as sheltering began to feel like
lock-down,
as the body count mounted, and
refrigerated trucks appeared in rows
outside the all-ICU hospitals,
ice rinks were turned to morgues,
and graves were dug
on public lands
across the country.
It was all so medieval, remarked
the medievalists amongst us,
so Monty Python, said others,
in a horrible way,
laughing uneasily
in our gallows humor.

The weeks dragged on.

At each gathering,
some of us wept, for ourselves
and at the kindnesses of others. The rest tried
not to. We all
clung to each other,
opening our arms wide
in our Hollywood squares,
blowing kisses as we disappeared
one by one:
alone together
at the Friday Night Zoom! Tiki Bar Happy Hour
in the COVID-19 Pandemic
in the 21st Century,
never knowing which one
might be our last.

‒May 5, 2020, Brooklyn
©Lee Kottner, 2020

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