The days — likely the months — leading up to Thanksgiving 2020 have left a hazy tarnish on my ability to be present for my family and friends.
It started, of course, with the economic uncertainty, political instability, and alienating nature of COVID-19. But it is bigger than that, more insidious, and ultimately more profound.
The rich got richer without doing much of anything, the poor kept fighting at great expense, and the world never stopped its dizzying spin. All this while 1.4 million people across the world died and left a dolorous wake in their leaving.
Please consider: The death of 1.4 million people is, by its very nature, an abstract and impenetrable number of individual lives gone forever and an exponential number of living grief.
Everyone who survives bears a scar. Every witness who remains watches from the silver shadows of their own guilt.
While I have much to be thankful for, I can’t stop making pictures that tell this terrible story writ large on quotidian society.
And I feel ashamed of its toothsome moral: There is a dark and resolute solace in this pathological estrangement from the brothers and sisters who survive here alongside me.
It was raining. I could hear the rain taking the pins out of her mouth. Soft rain became hard rain so that hard things became soft things. The wet leaves under the trees became heavy as diapers, the book left open on the grass could finally sink in her bath without a word, the way, after a hard day, I rest my head on the edge of the claw-foot tub and my mouth falls open, empty at last. Actually I saw that in a painting when I ducked into a gallery because it was raining. It is always raining somewhere, somewhere the wells are filling from above and from below. Somewhere someone is sleeping, somewhere the lady of the house puts the alarm clock in a drawer where she cannot hear it then tells the children to be quiet and stands there listening to its tick.
‘This is the Song of One Hundred Thousand’ by Ariana Reines
This is the song of one hundred Thousand chemicals approximating Sunshine in my hair. My lover bit My cheek this morning. I think I’ll Fall from one trance into the next Might fall asleep any minute It gets tiring making yourself look like you’re alive while you’re looking Hard practicing turning Away from the shit we’re in
Source: Reines, Ariana. A Sand Book. , 2019. Print, p. 157. Photo: Gerace, Joe. “The Song of One Hundred Thousand Chemicals Approximating Sunshine [Secaucus Junction].” Nov. 14, 2020. JPG.
prokofievcobham & darnielle circle one’s crown blue llama equilateral winged what have we here seen? a photo in a photo in a magazine metaphor boils the pot after a jot spills its ink hung over an fim-92 stinger which like i said before is no metaphor at all al gore despondent speaking to late modal fords don’t forget mass production the cruelest beard a habitat in the atlantic city convention hall and curly beautiful ambulances free myself today and forever from human immobility masked up in constant whirls a plagiarizer a bad speller pfizer hopping on one leg from star to star i swing red radio to blue gamma alongside a humming horse’s mouth a plagiarizer paul reiser needle in the armed to the teeth breasts elbows draped over that still missile botticelli like a real goddess of love cuts my tongue into 8 poppy flowers and marches south to war for the winter who do you think you are tarantula swagger carpet bagger meowing hoarse chuff chuff chuffing at popular art cart me ashore saint bart of the ozarks
200! the old mutt says hallelujah and forevermore the rats of us keep banging on that drum if the sky has his way if the shy sky has his way frank o’hara blessed me early in my career — he blurbed my christening i’ll pray for you says the well intentioned divorcee really where would we be without soft scrub the bathroom would be the barn no other poet should mention prokofieff you’re setting yourself up for failure it’s like last tuesday when the martians arrived and locked all the inmates in with the guards and burnt the whole penal colony for fuel — i know it’s cruel. you’re not telling yourself anything you don’t know he blurbed my christening he read radio but spelled it the old russian way i remember something now about my grandfather but can’t find a reason to type it — i’m not the showboat All week long I trudge fatiguingly i couldn’t name a damn thing the inanity of it would crush me like a slug beneath a heel in hell he made me come close i’m in no condition a man is a man is a man we think we can do anything and then anything comes face to face with self-recognition and the whole national book awards go ka-boom how do i get out of this promise me you’ll find a scholarly way to shuffle off how? i listened and i didn’t like what i heard another bug in another field of heads unrecognizable except for it turns around — means of rotation unknown — and shouts backwards into his spinal column: 200! bark bark rough rough etc etc and out of the eye’s corner a dune buggy accelerating cliche-first into the azzurri sunset
Photo: Church Street, New Paltz; Nov. 6, 2020; Joe Gerace
“Ono no Oyu (?-737) was a Japanese bureaucrat and a poet. He served under Ōtomo no Tabito during the Dazaifu administration. He rose to the rank of Assistant Governor-General (daini). Three of his tanka poems have been preserved in the Man’yōshū.” Wikipedia