Covid-19 in NY

Covid-19 in NY

Photo from “13 photos of New York City looking deserted as the city tries to limit the spread of the coronavirus

Trigger Warning: This poem is about how Covid-19 is affecting our current way of life. There are some graphic images described in this piece. Please proceed with caution if you choose to read this poem. Be safe and healthy everyone.

Covid-19 in NY

New York was the city that never slept —

until February 2020.

Two hundred thousand ill, three thousand dead.

Only the children are safe from drowning.

 

No showtime on Broadway, nor on the trains.

Rockefeller! Fifth Avenue! Times Square!

All shuttered. Abandoned. Still — like a wake.

The planes are grounded. Poison in the air.

 

More unemployed since the Great Recession.

The future unclear. The future unsure.

How long until they start welding our doors?

Disinfect and bleach the trains! Bleach the floors!

 

In China, the infected dragged away,

captured with the same nets they use for strays.

All day long, we sing Happy Birthday.

Italy keeps their residents at bay

 

with flamethrowers while they sing from the windows.

All we see are eyes. Windows to the soul.

 

Shelves are empty, and the price gougers fat.

Our mothers are sewing surgical masks.

 

There aren’t enough vents, nor are there beds.

Our grandparents, dying alone in their beds.

CPR denied to cardiac arrests.

 

Central Park, Jacob Javits, Navy ships —

temporary hospitals for the sick.

Bodies are being cradled by fork lifts

instead of loving hands, loving arms.

 

We’ve gone through March.

We’re going through April.

Social distancing has banned funerals.

 

We pray the summer burns away the plague.

The number of cases swell with the days.

 

– Rachel R. Vasquez, March/April 2020

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

 

Never have I wished to be farther from New York than now. I’ve lived here all of my life. 9/11 happened when I was in high school. This? I’ve never experienced anything like it in my lifetime. Some days I’m not sure how to cope, some days I’m inside trying to pretend this is just a really long staycation. The only thing I can do is take it day by day, and write. Hoping everyone stays safe out there.

Madison & 43rd

Madison & 43rd

Madison and 43rd at one,

I’ve left a window’s flock of owls

to peer at my empty desk.

 

Bowls of bloody plumes and wood whites

lead me past two gargoyles

with brooch bellies and toothless grins,

boasting of equitable trust

in spite of their u’s carved as v’s.

 

I’m lured under acorn lamps hanging from grape stems,

perhaps to feed the steel brachiosaurus’ with

pendants in their mouths.

 

They appear to be asleep at this time of day

or wary

of Mercury, Hercules and Minerva

loitering above the tourists.

 

Nirosta eagles,

terraced crown guards,

perch above both,

but I’ve safely made it past.

 

In spite of the hard cuffed men who

dodge the bearded man on the floor,

with frayed jeans, a baseball cap, and converses –

hobo or hipster?

– Rachel R. Vasquez, September 2017

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

 

A poem I wrote during lunch break when I worked near Grand Central and the Chrysler building. Frank O’Hara has always been an inspiration of mine. I have his “Lunch Poems” book.