Pandemic Prose

<100 Word Musings in the Time of Corona

* Submissions to hello@pandemicprose.com *

Routine

by Anonymous

In the morning I take a shower and put on makeup and work clothes. (Well, at least a work shirt since I am now a from-the-waist-up virtual being.) I am using up all the little sample sizes, cheaper products, ones that don’t make me quite as smooth/bright/clean/soft/pretty as the really expensive ones on the crowded shelves. Those I seem to be saving for Someday: the day I am face-to-face with a colleague or a friend who might be close enough to notice my ruddier skin or clumpier eyelashes or disheveled brows. I feel accomplished with each small tube or empty canister I toss in the recycle bin. Another product used up! Thank god for the pandemic or I would’ve wasted it! Meanwhile the puppy tries to protect me from the hairdryer, biting at the cord and barking like the accessory will eat me alive. 

On Watching Him Work From Home

by H. E. Casson

He thinks with his whole body
Shoulders curve toward the yes
Back straight says Eureka
Eyebrows a metronome of plans that will work
Not work
Work
Not work
He is lit by the screen
His lips moving
To lyrics
I can’t hear

He says he doesn’t dance
But that’s a lie

MIDSTREAM, OR OLD FOLKS AT HOME

by Anonymous

Swimming along, wearing gloves, wearing masks, used now to spraying food, mail, surfaces, with poison, pop-up aches & pains from too much leisure, many nagging projects still undone, too much bad news and heartache abounding, too chilly for May. Still, there’s Zoom, there’s emails from old friends. We pore over our past like a map, walk among flowering fruit trees, clip dinner from the newsprint, listen to the birds, count our lucky stars. Plenty to spare - please, take one.

Funny, tho, that our lives began in one economic depression and are ending in another.

Recess

by Anonymous

Sean Carter, who had cigarettes and was usually in a fight with his father. He was the one who clapped my hands together when I was holding – protecting – the snail I’d found on the way to school, walking with Jeff Roundtree. I was left with painful shell bits, deadened by slime, in my palms.

Shelly and Kelly Martin, the twins with strawberry blond hair. Kelly was my best friend for a while and once I spent the night at their house and played mahjong, though maybe not because that seems like an unlikely activity for them. When our reunion came and I learned they had both died, Kelly from an overdose and Shelly from a rare disease it turned out they both had and Shelly passed to her daughter. (I had wanted twins named Cindy and Mindy so I admired Kelly and Shelly’s mother. Guts.)

The yogis next door

by M

Their breathing whooshes outside my door

Bodies tumbling

It’s the new rumble of traffic

My body lives in a creaky house

A hip squeaks (a weak spot in the beams)

But still this vessel endures

Fail me not now

Lost in Self-Diagnosis

by La Vie en Prose

 

A, ah, ahchooo! Oh my god, that’s the third time today. Could, might it be, I mean is sneezing a symptom? Perhaps related, there is a pair of mourning doves that has been inexplicably hanging out on my front porch, and they leave a lot of bird poop. Also, a rabbit has been eating my peonies. I saw him. You know, proximity to wild animals? Quick search: no, sneezing isn’t. But what is is tiredness. (Little pictogram of drooping tired walking person.) I’m definitely tired. And I barely even do anything all day, which just underscores the point. I went out to scare the rabbit and saw Dennis on his front porch, who told me he is getting tested today. For the second time. Why? We share a driveway and when he goes out to check the electric meter I’ve seen him drop a cigarette butt onto it, which has touched his lips. Which I also drive on. I’ve seen the rabbit there, too. It’s all connected.

solitude #4

by SCM

faint sirens echo

his cracked hand lays still, empty

the tea pot whistles

Cooking up something good

by IJM

1/10

Can You Believe It?

by Anonymous

 

I know someone who knows a girl who met a guy online. Well, they re-met. They’d already met before. I forget where. But they started texting. They REALLY liked each other. So, after like three weeks, she drove to Hyannis to see the guy, who was living with his sister, but the sister wasn’t home. What with the pandemic and all, the girl’s parents weren’t happy, but she’s home from college and is basically a grown up, so what could they could do? The person I know didn’t hear from the girl for two days. Then she got a text that said “We’re dating. We’re in love.” Can you believe it? This is what now passes for interesting. 

rejuvenation

by Anonymous

 

do you need some protein

i always ask my kids when they’re grumpy

we’ve talked about it for years so why

do you now say oh is protein good for your energy?

 

let’s go for a walk you say

just us this time and a dog maybe

and I know that the only way to get your head straight

is to let you have time alone with me

like you’re a child and can’t share the attention

or maybe you’re right

we’re better after air and time away

 

in the beginning we agreed it’s okay to walk away

when we’ve had too much

and then some nights we want to be together

to play a game or just have a long slow dinner

as a family

 

we rarely go to church

only on christmas eve or for a funeral

or a wedding but

i feel better after a sermon

lifted rejuvenated ready for whatever is next

 

this is a terrible time for a pandemic

someone said

like there’s a good season or a bad season

like you can’t eat oysters in months that don’t end in r

would fall be a more convenient time for you

for the whole world to get sick

for the economy to crash? would

your schedule be less crowded then

perhaps more time to stay home and not see friends

to not cancel the plan the haircut the party the travel

 

we find our energy because we have to.

 

GO OFF

Posts Are Coming Soon
Stay tuned...

A tall glass of Madeleine, please

by A. Dasbach

Dear Madeleine, 

I'm sorry this is late, but in these times, 

time does not work - 

except for knowing that I have infinite 

time with you. 

I love to celebrate April, I'll admit. 

I love to celebrate 

twenty two years of your big green 

eyes that gaze out upon the silken landscape, 

planning how you will grow in it 

row by row. 

Your slender hands that push 

color into a new form with the tip

of a saturated brush. 

Your sage words that crinkle 

into giggles and widen my smile 

at the clink of a cold IPA; 

happy birthday, my sweet mad. 

Shiny Objects 

by EL

 

In times of stress, there appear shiny objects.

They come in all shapes and sizes. You've likely seen them before.

 

Beware, they will try to hack the pattern of your thoughts, 

cause you to indulge in circular “I’m just not” or “I can’t even,"

or "when did I become just a blob on the floor?"

 

It isn’t a weakness to have shiny objects in your back seat. 

Rather, the weakness is when you lather yourself in a deprecation 

that doesn’t align 

with who you want to be.

Poesia in Covid Time

by IM

Lo stato in cui il mondo si trova.
Umani.
Sospesi in una breve ed infinita apnea.
Ci agitiamo fermi come chi, dopo una stenta respirazione, vuole dimenarsi per riprendere il respiro, o il fiato, successivo 
Agitati.
Nel frattempo giacciono le nostre vive anime nei nostri fermi corpi.
Statici. Immobili, frenetici, corpi imperturbabili di anime indissolubili.
Apnea.
Lo stato in cui noi umani a tempo del virus ci troviamo. 

A Mythical Creature

by Anonymous

A gorgeous spring day! While working productively at my desk, I had the urge for a run. I leashed up the dog. Trotting along I said to the dog, “not much traffic” and “kids are out by the river.” Then “there’s a lady in a mask…”  Oooh, jolt! 

For an ENTIRE 15 MINUTES, I’d forgotten to be worried as all shit. I felt guilty. 

And then, we rounded a corner to see an enormous inflatable rainbow unicorn bobbing in the breeze in a driveway. I realized I’d had what lots of people are seeking — to escape just for a bit.

Untitled

by Anonymous

 

Others have said this but it is worth a reminder:

      When you go out and see the empty streets, the empty stadiums, the empty train platforms,

don't say to yourself, "It looks like the end of the world."
What you're seeing is love in action.

What you're seeing, in that negative space, is how much we do care for each other,

for our elders, for immuno-compromised people we know or don’t know,

for people we will never meet.
People will lose jobs over this. Some will lose their businesses.

And some will lose their lives.
All the more reason to take a moment, when you're out on your walk,

or on your way to the store, or just watching the news,

to look into the emptiness and marvel at all of that love.
Let it fill you and sustain you.
It isn't the end of the world.

    It is the most remarkable act of global solidarity we may ever witness.

Now

by IJM

 

We have been told to stay inside.

 

Instead of containment

It is an invitation

 

to explore the power of your Breath

the power of Yourself as an entity that stands

 

without the artificial accessories which

cobbled together create 

what we knew formerly as 

 

Identity.

Now,

 

it's just you. 

Maybe no job

Maybe no parties

Maybe no favorite restaurants to give you clout and likes and social currency

that once defined

the house we lived and moved around in.

 

Now,

It's just you.

See?

 

You are the house.

Your body. 

That's all you've got.

 

Now,

Go inside. 

Take a seat.

And learn.

Landscape Scenography

by C. Sullivan

Here is illustrated the eventuality of us jumping the fence to a green and healthy future with the sun shining down on a bright landscape.

I don't sleep anymore

by LH 

 

On this night

I listen to the heat blow

and the windows twitch

In exasperation

I twitch too

conceding to foreign pulse

in foreign body

Fear stains on a tired mind

At least we still have bed 

by EL 

 

I crawl out of bed 

And pad into the living room 

(deemed the “fun room” in this time of sequester)

 

It’s still dark. 

 

I roll out my mat, 

proud of my early morning. 

Experts say routine will save us. 

 

I want to wake up with the sun

without news of death and disease 

so I keep the overhead lights off. 

 

Instead, I light two candles 

One for me 

One for you

 

As I sit in the dark there is no pandemic 

Just the wood floor and the painted ceiling 

The soft flicker 

The quiet

and 

stillness. 

 

And then 

 

The earth begins to rumble 

The walls move back and forth 

Back and forth 

I spring up and yelp. 

An earthquake - 5.7 - sweeps beneath my feet. 

 

 

 

I blow out my candles and get back in bed. 

OKAY GOD, WE GET IT. 

Purell for the People

by Aurora Kreyche

Numbers Game

by Anonymous

When I was 6, I told my parents I would come home to take care of them when they got old. I left home at 15, and now they are 85 and 90 years old. I live 3,000 miles away. I am 100% terrified I will ever see them again. 

a lesson on spontaneity (3-20-20)

by k.lee

It’s funny, I never used to make plans in advance. I’d judge my friends who would schedule a weekend getaway for September in January. But this year, I made plans for the whole thing. 

 

Now I know

Never make plans too far in advance

Because everything can change in the space of a second.

Untitled

by NZ

Another dispatch from your quarantine to mine tells of a breakup that feels poorly timed. A man who wants to sequester himself from you for more reasons than one. A bit too much narrative cohesion, if you ask me. You walk outside, my heartsick friend, in the only place that people go for walks in that neighborhood nowadays, where strangers give nods of solidarity from afar. You secretly hope you might run into him. We’d still stand six feet away, you explain to me on the phone, but at least then I’d get to see him.

Untitled

by A. Dasbach

Last night, I sat in my living room under my state’s shelter in place, with my women, and pieced together bits of paper and color concerning my life and of my mind. Grateful for all of this time to reflect, yes, but scared of the bounding consequences that made that be. America the great, the powerful, the ‘rich’; what will happen to you when we are through with this? If it feels like Big Brother is watching, it’s true, every action taken impacts all. But when has that not been the case? We, the women, have long understood that coalescing together is nature’s path. Only now we must lose hundreds to understand community at last. 

Windows

by Peeping Tom

I have three windows in my kitchen. They are big and tall and if you are in the building next door - up a level or down a level - you can see in. 

 

Windows go two ways, another thing to note.

 

Last week, I closed the blinds on these windows every night. I like my privacy. I don’t care to window peep on my neighbors. 

 

This week I leave them open.

Windows go two ways, a nice thing to note.

Adjusting to Life 

by LM

This is boring. Life is boring and scary. School has been cancelled, plans have been cancelled, our lives have been cancelled. I’m so bored. It’s annoying but it’s all I can think to say. Usually my life is rushed and full of activities but now that I have no structure I sit and think about how this will change the world and how it’s weird that I actually miss school. This is what it has come to. No one knows when this will end but I suppose I should start adjusting to my new life.

The Origins of Magical Realism

by La Vie en Prose

All my life I have practiced being lonely.  Now, at last, it is coming in handy.  I live in my imagination.  I look around my house, but I don’t see the unhung curtains in a pile on the chair, the unsorted books in cardboard boxes from my ex-husband’s basement, the untouched craft supplies for multitudinous projects yet to be undertaken. I see cascading drapery, organized volumes on a shelf, and creative output galore.  Outside I see a budding green world, people holding hands, throngs singing together, ice cream being shared, students returning, and joy in the streets.  It is happening.

Shipped

by H. E. Casson

Today I lost my job

And for one minute

(Exactly)

There were tears

 

But I still write poetry

So I am still working

To put words in a line

Assembled

Folded perfectly

To be shipped to you

 

I perform quality control

Making sure you know

That this loss was not as hard

As the others

 

(The losses to men 

Who made jokes at my body’s expense

Imaging how I’d taste served hot)

 

This loss is one we all might share

In a time where I am sad to be a poet

 

Because 

Perhaps

We do not need so many memories

Distancing 

by Smit Parekh

On the cusp of spring, we were lying in bed on an afternoon with her cat pawing our faces, when our phones started buzzing with the news of a virus breakout in China. 

Today after a month, my best friend and I are in different cities, stuck in quarantine to protect ourselves from the virus that traveled to our counties, killing thousands of people across the globe on its way. 

My sister who studies art, miles away from the golden coast, convinced me to travel to her in the Midwest, where she promised to make a portrait of me. 

How could I say no?

Staying around art and family will keep me stable from the crippling social life that waits ahead for all of us.

Dirty Dishes

by ANON

What day is it? 

I check my phone. It’s Friday. I force myself out of bed and walk out of my room to the kitchen. 

It's quiet. 

Both of my roommates left. I am all alone in our small apartment. I look over to see dirty dishes that have been sitting in the sink since Monday. I walk over to sink about to wash the dishes. Instead, I grab my laptop on the kitchen table and put on a show from Netflix. The parks and recreation theme song fills the empty room. I open my fridge to see if there is anything I can eat. I grab a suspicious old takeout box and grimace at the smell. I throw out the leftovers and let out a heavy sigh. 

I guess I’ll do the dishes.

Waiving from a window

by AB + JW

Inverted Pyramid Pandemic Playlist

by Anonymous

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now

Don’t Stand So Close to Me

Burning Down the House

Don’t Cry Out Loud

In the Air Tonight

Can’t Touch This

Tainted Love

Stand Back

Badlands

Day Something 

by Anonymous

What the fuck?
What the actual fuck?
Is it true what they say? The end begins like any other day?

I go back and forth
Mornings I’m optimistic as the sun shines and my calendar fills
Evenings I sulk unable to see a future without chaos

I miss my friends and my freedom
But we will be ok
right ?

Day Zero 

by Anonymous

Our decision was finally made for us, thankfully, in the form of a "shelter in place" command from trusted California leaders, who seem to have more guts/balls/sense/intellect/safety than our national government. Yes, it's extreme. Yes, it's scary. And, yes, it's finally an answer to the question "what do we do?" As of tonight, with an attitude that with limitations, creativity starts to emerge, we feel abundant. We have food. We have income. We have love. I know we will grow weary, and we may grow sick, but tonight, we thrive.

Day One

by Anonymous

For many in my generation,    

(we who were children when the towers came down; 

watched our parents struggle to provide when the banks failed; 

first learned of climate change when we were too young to vote; 

who have been indebted since we were eighteen)

                                                                     fear is nothing new.    
Perhaps that is why we built friendships and communities so strong. Why we clung to our gatherings -- at bars, at shows, in living rooms with friends -- so covetously.

Maybe we knew how precious it was because deep down

 

we never really expected it to last?

Paranoid People

by Carlo

My human takes me for a walk. We see my friend Charlie at the field. My human walks slowly to Charlie’s human and waves. After some delay, Charlie and I both are let off leash. She sniffs me, intimately. And I her. Our humans stand far apart, talking loudly, shifting as if to remain up-wind. Charlie’s human says her mother-in-law is stuck with them; can’t get back to Israel. “You getting lots of extra treats?” I ask Charlie. She nods, yes. Charlie nuzzles my human. My human pats Charlie on the head. When we get home, we have a bath. 

Flowers of the Apocalypse

by Barbara Santa Barbara

My jeans are embroidered with pink and orange – flowers of the apocalypse.  My son offers to shop, but I am already among battling carts, empty shelves, desserts but no bread. Meat counter depleted, I snag a corned beef.

 

My daughter texts, “Let brother shop. You are old. Dad is old and infirm. The entire world is fucked up because this affects rich white men. Unlike you, we will be fine. Just stay the fuck home.”

 

Next day daughter texts, “Where are you?” “Home.” “Excellent! Stay there.”

 

Home, in my secret garden, spring buds erupt, flowers unaware of the apocalypse.

Ready or Not

by Anonymous

My parents died in their sixties, three siblings before age fifty. I envisioned my 85-year-old self hunched over a cane, but never really expected to live so long. Yet I have, along with my 90-year-old husband. Now Covid-19 may find us, careful as we are being isolated in our condo. I’ve had enough lung ailments and he is frail enough that this may be a farewell post. Four loving, concerned children advise us daily from various locations. But the scarcity of tests, medical personnel, and facilities…. our country isn’t ready for what's on our doorstep. It’s likely we aren’t either.