Covid’s Harem

i chew mint gum
behind my mask at
whole foods, walk by the
organic cherries, putting
their shiny bulbs into
the cart

our eyes dart out
looking at one another, we’ve
gotten used to this
toothless, lipless existence
as if we are helplessly in
covid’s harem, all of us

unhappy wives
plucking up frozen pizzas
following aisle arrows
in the direction away
from looming sickness
that saturates everything

with its statistics and
endless news of how this
will continue unabated
but still we eat the
sweet cherries, hoping
to one day be free

Freedom During Quarantine

these evenings I stay up
late, just to see what has
accumulated during quarantine
days, overabundant family
time, the same dog walks
over and over, this darkened
hour is the only quiet space
without Zoom, or TikTok,
Netflix, or email invading
every minute, here I am
again, pretending to write
poems, freedom disguised
as ink words on a page

Butterfly Effect

we used to race caterpillars
up old oak trees, caterpillar
jockeys we were, holding our
sticks, prodding the slow
legged insects to move skyward
sometimes they listened to us
yelling their new names
come on Stripey, faster Laser
tickling bark, up they went or
they’d stop, no telling how it would
end, because the bell always rang
recess done, but they’d keep
climbing higher and higher, or
we imagined they did, ignoring
grammar, staring out windows
gazing to the tallest branches
baby butterflies, blue sky

Summer Beard

Whiskers start in June
mostly black, some gray
pushing through skin
like sunflowers they emerge
carefree, unrestrained by razors
of other seasons
when they are scraped away
like speckled truth
man’s primitive nature hemmed.
Summertime, I let them grow for days
like a backpacker searching
for my lost youth.
Long hours of shadowy sun
my face like time
standing still.