To the maudlin poet:
No atheists in foxholes or Christians at my kitchen sink. Let’s party like Gatsby: it’s the ought-twenty quarantine; ten days to turn feral. Turn tail on the timeline thirst traps and hunker down. I thought we were really getting somewhere. Here’s the soft animal death of the doomsday fatalists: no Russian submarines lurking in the midst. no gorilla warfare in the streets. Have an app, we’ve fired the doctors. Little Napoleon’s off his rocker again and ranting sweet bitumen wet dreams. We’re drowning. Fire the janitors and replace them with autonomous drones. But we’re drowning. Here’s a respirator joke. I’ll make it funny this time. But we’re drowning in our own lungs, like deck chairs through the hourglass. No more poems, no more rockers.
Shelter in place
From the paper-still streets I see the reflection of flashing emergency lights in the library windows. Your father has picked a fine time to start dying again. One hundred and twenty kilometres away he counts morphine, plots a laundry chute escape, calls you five times a day with another thing he forgot. He forgot to tell you they stopped chemo when his nailbeds puffed toxic, one million tiny crustaceans bloom. There’s no planking these exponential growth rates. I can’t find an elegant metaphor for pain. Inside we’re a bell jar wasteland. We stay up late to google symptoms, check temperatures. We ration toilet paper and rubbing alcohol. 35.5. Does your throat hurt. 36.2. What kind of cough was that. 35.4. I’ve stopped counting panic attacks; the acid burn in my chest is from stress binging. We say Everything is terrible. We say This is fine. Falling into the twilight of my nap a malevolent voice bent close to my ear, masculine and evil, breathed one word: FAILURE. So, it’s back.
Who do you serve
It’s a post-prairie post-winter weather eruption, another shit blanket of snow. Inside we run hot and cold. You sweat; I freeze. It’s not that I’m stress-eating, bloated, swollen, and constipated, it’s that I’m stress-eating, bloated, swollen, and constipated. There’s no poetry in pandemics. Everyone on Twitter has a cough and is worried; the constant cleansing has desiccated our hands. It’s a dry cold, they said. Air pressure 101.8 kPA and falling. We tune in to the 4:30 p.m. dispatch to find out who’s died. We dream about meeting each other in airports. Emails from management urge self-care and sanity. Meanwhile all our friends are out of work, and rent is due.
NIKKI REIMER (she/they) is a multimedia artist, writer, and chronically ill neurodivergent prairie settler currently living in Calgary / Mohkinstsis. She has been involved with art and writing communities, primarily in Calgary and Vancouver, for over 20 years. They are the author of three books of poetry and multiple essays on grief. GRIEFWAVE, a multimedia, web-based, extended elegy, was published in February 2022. Visit reimerwrites.com.