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  • Writer's pictureLauren Sauer

COVID poems

I mean, why not, right? Poetry is not my thing, nor has it ever been. I took an Introduction to Poetry class in college to fulfill a degree requirement, during which time I spent a semester rolling my eyes at nineteen-year-old boys donning turtlenecks, round-framed glasses, and unkempt hair. I'm not claiming these are good, or impactful, or will make much sense to anyone other than me. But in month...whatever it is now...of this weird hellscape we're living in, why not try my hand at something unfamiliar and speak in vague metaphor. Back soon with the normal stuff.


My hair is much longer than it has been in recent memory,

perhaps much longer than it's ever been.

It's to the point now where those I haven't seen in a while

will exclaim "Your hair!", devoid of compliment or criticism.

Just, like, general acknowledgement.

I guess that's nicer than "Your under-eye bags!"

or "You're wearing April's baked goods as a belt!"


When this all started, we thought optimistically

in terms of mile markers and holidays.

"This'll be over by Easter" turned to "It's gonna be a weird spring,"

which careened into wishes that summer wouldn't be ruined.

And through virtual graduations

and prom dresses devoid of sweat stains,

we watched our children settle for missed milestones

and lackluster versions of the rights of passage we rolled our eyes through.

We waited in lines to enter the grocery store

while brides woefully retired their buttercream dreams,

and parents remembered how hard elementary school arithmetic actually is.

And now I recall emphatically telling my mother that a turtleneck

simply wouldn't do under my princess Halloween costume.

As I have no children to ask I cannot confirm,

but I imagine face mask trumps turtleneck in terms of unfairness.

And if we all got our shit together,

they could've thoughtlessly traded Tootsie Rolls for Twizzlers,

carpeted suburban enclaves serving as the confectionary trading floor.


In phase one, I fabricated reasons to make phone calls

to hear voices belonging to faces I wouldn't see for a while.

Through teletransmission and pacing familiar sidewalks,

I could imagine a lack of miles.

Reach out and touch something

that in sunlight on park benches

isn't quite what I hoped it would be.

email etiquette

I got promoted on my 25th birthday

and to celebrate I wore makeup to a Zoom meeting for once.

My fingers have developed carpal memory

for the phrase "I hope this email finds you well,"

and it's almost genuine some of the time.

Not in a mean way, but in a "who cares" kind of way.

Because if an email has ever actually found you well,

let's figure out how we submit suggestions to the DSM.


To sit at a dinner table with my family

would be to sit among those whom I both love the most and vote against.

Not exclusively, because I have lineage in California,

but there would be enough shades of scarlet to make me squirm.

My penance for sobbing in the grass last July was mosquito bites on my thighs

and the desire to sprint down asphalt in an oceanfront neighborhood.

But it's seemingly strange to see your own DNA

posit questions you deem too mean to warrant a response.

I'll remember the words, "That's a nice idea, in a utopia,"

dripping with the same syrup that will never sweeten innocent blood,

though its many attempts trap many a housefly.

out to sea

The difference between love and convenience, I think,

is what happens when your world shrinks to the exact

square footage of your dwelling, and you share your pillow

with gnawing thoughts that usually can be pacified by blue light.

I'm learning more and more that daydreams are sailboats,

and the mere suggestion of a strong wind is enough to set off for the Orient.

An anchor is always good to have on board,

as is a captain who knows her astronomy.


Nature loves routine.

Without clocks, without email,

without circadian rhythm dictated by digital chime.

I know this, because the inevitability

of summer storms and longing

know nothing of minute hands.

Something as primal as displaced anger

arrives on one's doorstep like the first frost,

even if it's been the longest, hottest summer.


I'm finding a resting place in the teen soaps I once consumed like starches,

only this go-around raise objection to boring logistics like real estate.

Life isn't as enchanted once you know the interior of a dorm room from experience,

and you wager your fleeting dollars on delivery that may cause indigestion.


I have created the most wonderful tool.

You can borrow it, if you like, or I can help you build your own.

It is the greatest little gadget, soon to be adopted

by overzealous Boy Scouts and seamen with brute strength.

For when knots get so overwhelmingly tangled

that they more closely resemble masses of fibrous headache,

my invention swoops in to make upwards of the misery.

It can unmask hatred, to reveal her more meek and earnest sister, sadness.

It can aptly measure distances and translate any phrase.

With near perfect accuracy, it can identify idiosyncrasy

and create social gathering with nearly no effort.

It sounds damn near perfect, I know.

You may wonder why I haven't sold out to the hardware store

or cashed a fat check from an investor.

But the thing is, it doesn't feel quite morally apt to benefit.

All I've done is discovered something already there.

Did you know if you use those two weird looking holes

that jut out from the sides of your head without agenda,

you can actually get quite a lot accomplished?

in response to major key

Can you believe once upon a time I overanalyzed my music taste

for worry those just as qualified would think I was dumb?

For the record, the only ones who give any remote thought

to how much serotonin leaks from my brain in response to major key

are me, myself, and the Spotify algorithm.

I wouldn't wish insecurity on my worst enemy, if I had one.

The enemy part, I mean. That's the part I don't have.

That's refreshing to say, for once.

And for the record, if you're reading:

I can be not your enemy and also not want to grab coffee.

Different creatures can cohabitate in nature without squabble.

I believe they call it indifference, or ecosystem.

Whichever term you prefer works for me.


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