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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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

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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.

Broadway Junction

Broadway Junction

Going to Broadway Junction used to be like the beginning of a fantasy novel.

“Only the very brave or the very foolish
dare venture
to the Junction.”

“Our kind are not welcome
by folks who dwell in the depths of Brooklyn.”

“Few of us journey there and ever return!”

“Take care on your travels and be wary of monsters.”

Red and blue warbled the walls where my cousins slept
away from the windows.

I remember the relief my family had whenever I returned.
My limb inventory was successful and yet,
each time I came home, I was a little more jaded
than the last.

Like a war journalist who managed to survive the trenches
and lived to tell the tale.

– Rachel R. Vasquez,  July 2017

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Broadway Junction used to be a dangerous place, but then again, so did Bushwick. How the times have changed.

The Chambers

The Chambers

Descent into the Chambers
bring us ever closer to the day
the towers fell.

The stomach is lined with bone.

Several eyes that never pair
flit about and
watch us scatter to various orifices
to escape the bellowing labyrinth.

Black ribs keep us from
shrieking accordions.

No man dare venture into the darkness without armor.

The smog temporarily lifts
when innards swing us towards
a blind Canal.

The Canal washes us all away until Spring.

– Rachel R. Vasquez, 7/1/2015

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Toying with the idea that the Chambers Street station is actually alive. Was inspired by all the eye mosaics on the wall. I might expand on this more. I feel like I can make more metaphors towards monsters if I keep going. I like the suggestion of the stations after Chambers going uptown. 🙂

125th Street

125th Street

125th Street.

Is this the mouth,

or the ass

of the city?

 

How did everyone decide to dig ditches?

Trenches before they were

too far to go back so

they connected the holes instead?

 

The 4 gently trembles.

Waking bleary-eyed keyboard musicians

with screeching after

falling with one foot

into a pit.

 

Happens every time.

 

– Rachel R. Vasquez, 5/2015

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Randomness. That’s all I have to say. Hopefully writing with more effort coming soon. 🙂

The D Uptown

The D Uptown

I hear it in layers.

Like a wind –

an exhale, unvarying and steady.

 

Sinking into potholes.

Toothy tireless rims.

 

Grinding, thunder, whinnying, skidding.

 

A cacophony of keys, hollow pots banging,

ringing, scraping, hinging, rattling,

an elephant screeching,

whistling amidst cicadas

and marbles being swirled ’round and ’round a metal tin.

 

Shrill and sharp.

A largo tempo.

And a distant memory of amusement park bells.

 

– Rachel R. Vasquez, 4/21/2015

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Have you ever stopped to close your eyes and really listen to a train? I always thought that trains sometimes sound alive, like metal breathing organisms. I wanted to see what I could pluck out from the white noise while on my morning commute, and make sense of it piece by piece. It was an interesting exercise, especially for someone who is hard of hearing.

I like this idea – maybe I’ll revisit this poem later.

Circus Act

Tightrope flashing
Footwear swaying
Below
The Banners start waving
On comes the theatrics
Clowns run doing acrobatics with popcorn snappin’
Knick knacks blastin’
The audience
Turn their backs
Past fireworks flarin’
Blue and red blaring’
To the spatter and racket
Like confettied ketchup packets
Glass flickers
Footsteps crackle
The batten is broken
Simmering pyros
The ringmaster leaves the stage
Scraps and echoes
The act has made the front page
But the trainers have lost their animals

– Rachel R. Vasquez, 3/6/2008

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