Moondog said it long ago… Bye bye bye Manhattan
So long Steve Dalachinsky and Steve Cannon
the Grassroots Tavern and Carnegie Deli
St. Mark’s Books and Sidewalk Café
Say adios to living in a zip that starts with 1
Can we hope again to afford a Yankees game,
a Broadway play or a taxi ride across town?
Where have all the people gone?
This is for you Larry Kelly fighting, fighting, fighting
for breath on the whirring ventilator of fate.
What can we say about hope when there isn’t hope?
We can say: It’s time to get to work, to clean up the mess
we have left our children and our children’s children
as well as our parents’ generation so we are seen
in a kinder light by history and any god
who takes an interest in the daily lives of human-kind.
We must retrain ourselves to look for the good
in fellow humans not just mistakes and moments
of weakness. We need to remind ourselves the
measure of life is the journey undertaken
not the rewards we accrue at any given time.
We as a species can still achieve wonders
when pushed and we are pushed in ways
not seen in generations. We need compassion
and community action while living in isolation
and distance by necessity and choice. The screens
we’re addicted to offer little solace to the lonely
mortals we’ve become in spite of our strength
as social creatures who once upon a time
enjoyed each other’s company. Time passes
like clouds through a sleepless night haunted
by fever dreams of those we’ve left behind.
The sirens passing by the front of our house
as common as the chirping of the birds in back.
The morning news infuriates because we know
our president is ill equipped to deal with a crisis
that wouldn’t be as bad if he wasn’t around.
Let us acknowledge the quiet voices
as well as those who command our ears.
Our shared language is a beautiful creation
not to be sullied by political doublespeak,
the overuse of adverbs, or the ever evolving
jargon of hate. Let us celebrate the skilled
and unskilled workers who save our lives,
by restoring unions that protect workers
to their rightful place in American society.
Everyone I know is in the process of losing
someone dear to them. I wake up every few hours
with my chest beating wondering who’s next?
Every cough is not the end, every breath precious.
A walk outside the house should not be occasion
for an argument with Caroline who I hit last night
in the middle of sleep because I dreamed she was trying
to steal my breath away. I’ve caught up on reading back copies
of the New Yorker and know as much about Bolivian politics
and Fiona Apple’s mental state as I’ll ever need to know.
My neighbor, a kindly woman is shouting at passersby
“wear a mask, don’t be an asshole.”
I have phoned my teacher friends and empathized
with the conundrum of online teaching while schooling
one’s own children home from school. We have come
to learn that quarantine is not a romantic proposition.
There’s a time for metaphor and a time for reality
and this shit is real in a way we’ve rarely seen.
The opposite of hope is despair with fear as a catalyst
favored by demagogues and their shady minions.
Our survival is unsustainable if we dread each other
though right now we must protect ourselves from each
other by distance and social responsibility.
Facebook nostalgia may serve as balm
but hope is the only cure
because without hope none of this matters
without hope none of this mattered.