Thanksgiving Guilt

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.



to wear so many rings your fingertips refuse to meet
to pull up skin-tight jeans
to slip on a pink tube top without being asked
to find what’s in your pocket

what is in your pocket?

to be known for a particular hairdo
to smell the way you do
to be brilliant without being moved
to snooze

oh scent do you see?

to kill in order to live
to grow a theorist in a tube
to suck off a hungry ghost
to love basic vanilla body mist after all these years

what won’t work and why not?

to have that kind of mind
to have this kind of mouth
to charge into the universe’s great recording booth
and scream no no no that won’t work