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poetry

What Will Happen When We Cannot Touch?

The title of each poem is a timestamp of when it was created. Written in seven days, from April 13-21, 2020 (except for the last “epilogue” poem, which took a number of weeks).

16:03

19:17

07:15

14:31

03:16

afterwards

the poems

16:03

it’s that time of year when
I can see you, summer
moving through moss in tree
peaks superimposed on canvas
blank as sky
and pale concrete
and you’ve only begun and
I have choruses coursing through my veins,
I have condensation collecting on my skin
that can’t touch anyone

19:17

it is easy to write a sad story
and make people cry,
it is easy violence
but flowers are a fragile thing:
tissue paper petals shrivel at a glance,
just-opened fragrance slips out of grasp
on a breeze cutting
“catch me if you can”
on the palm of my hand.

07:15

“No graffiti” is asking to be
Hancock signed over by hands,
hands that reach for do-not-touch’s
and freshly painted guard rails
no one wants to touch
until they can’t,
but everyone wants to be a god
and eat fruit on couches
until asked to.
Then all revert and want nothing more
than a bee’s spring leaf wing to brush
against the leg.

14:31

there are cracked hands pressed on glass,
open mouths sucking the pane
to exhale laundry lists, it was a mistake
to look but hard to turn away
and not stomp and scream stay behind tape
but without milk to dump, they spit in my face
except that’s not true, instead in the mirror
there only is hate which I hate —
is anyone listening,
is anyone cutting open milk cartons
to plants seeds two months too late?
my ear is to the ground (and I am trying),
my ear is to the pillow (and I am trying),
my ear is to the glass (and I am trying),
my ear is where you would be
and I am trying

03:16

If I could become someone else
I would be a potter at a wheel
Molding mugs out of my distant relative clay
And scraping all the fingerprints away,
Except for one
Hidden before fired for a finger to find later.

If I could play an instrument
I would strum a guitar without a pick,
Plucking songs with my thumb out of the strings
And sing old songs and love songs but
Mainly sad songs
Hidden in upbeat rhythms everyone wants to dance to.

afterwards

your room’s
walls are way too white
a chic empty
with enough room to write
(something like)

give me someone give me anyone give me adjectives
to throw in disarray on a wall any wall paint them all

your screen
doesn’t make you high
and you miss
missed calls from friends who don’t try anymore
(sometimes it’s like)

all those colors are growing in layers so thick
even injected disinfectant can’t peel it

you are
always in your room
and guess not
much has changed with you
(somewhere it’s like)

on the surface, sirens sound warnings
warning you to stay in you always stay in

you’re okay
is just way too vague
without faces
to say what’s on the page
( … )

so let’s dream at the end
about what we’ll do after the end
it’s not the end
it’s not the end

5 replies on “What Will Happen When We Cannot Touch?”

Samuel, It’s so hard to pick a favorite. Each time I read them, I change my mind. For today I am wavering between 19:17 and 03:16. My overall takeaway is a feeling of sadness but knowing these were written during a pandemic, the title leads me to think that it was very much on your mind. Then I reread them and try to pretend there is no virus and then everything changes and they seem almost mysterious. I don’t see why you seem concerned about coming back to poetry instead of a story. When you have the inspiration and opportunity to put something to paper, take advantage of the moment. Thanks for including me in your literary adventure. I am truly enjoying your journey. What’s it like to be so gifted? Love, Granny

Thank you so much, you are too kind. I’m so glad you have favorites from the list! Those two are some of my personal favorites as well. Yes, in many ways, poetry becomes this way for me to process what I see happening around me, to “think out loud” if you will. Which is probably why I keep coming back to poetry!

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