Ten Poems in Twenty Minutes: COVID Edition Day 3

these have a distinctly romantic bent for which i cannot explain

1:
I’m a memory you don’t use to make decisions anymore.
I saw her, she looks just like me,
Was it that I was your type, just my personality didn’t fit?
I knew we wouldn’t work.
It doesn’t mean I didn’t want it.
You said you didn’t want that –
That life –
The one woman, living with you, loving you,
With you.
I said I needed to be able to be put first, and that couldn’t happen because of your kids.
You said, I want to be able to go with the flow and live in the moment.
I guess, it was my fault, taking you for your word.
I broke you up, got you back together, what will happen the next time we talk?
Will you remember to call on our birthday?

2:
How are you actually supposed to tell people how you feel?
This must have been some magical lesson y’all were taught in kindergarten.
And now we tell Tommy that what he did hurt our feelings and ask him not to do it again.
How do I say to this boy, hey, I have stronger feelings for you than I thought I would.
They caught.
How do people bring these things up in the moment?
Can you really tell people they made you angry? I’ve never seen it work. I have no modeling.
I’ll just keep guessing. But I feel like I’m buzzing around a bug zapper, waiting to get hit with electricity when I make the wrong move.

3:
64 ounces of soap.
That is how much came in the mail today.
Since April 27th I’ve known we were running low.
I looked for low-shipping local soap companies, liquid, of course, it has to be liquid.
I found online bulk retailers, I could buy a pallet of soap, shipping incld, not that expensive, really.
Finally, Monday, I was adding mustard seed to my grocery store online cart that now acts as my reminder list, and I saw it.
Two-pack Softsoap refill, free two-day delivery $8.94.
And it came in the mail, wrapped in overly large, unbranded ziploc baggies.
My soap. It came in the mail.
I called my mother,
Mom, I got more soap.

4:
Editing essays of folks who say they’re great writers.
I texted my friend applying for grad school, engineering management.
Hey, quit using adjectives. I have to cut the part where you say “I’m a succinct writer.”
I told him in the first round, tell me a story.
He said okay.
I told him in the second round, an essay should be supporting a main point. If your paragraphs are not supporting the main point …
Suddenly I was talking to my 8th graders, my tutoring students.
Why do we never learn the fundamentals?
Why do engineers never learn humility, clarity, or empathy?
Why can my 13 year olds not remember how to structure a paragraph for an essay?
Why don’t I remember I’m supposed to be full of coddling, even when they ask me for editing help?

5:
There’s a power dynamic issue, when one half of a friendship is in love with the other.
I left it with him, to decide if he wants to be my friend.
But I drew the boundaries.
I said I cut myself off from feeling anything toward you a long time ago.
He said he thinks that’s impossible,
Saying instead you know how I feel,
But never spelling it out like you want him to.

6:
I want to cry alone in a sound-proof room,
Feeling bad for Stevie Nicks in Silver Springs.
That’s what I’d do if I were alone.
I wouldn’t have to explain the way we use curse as a verb in America.
I could leave my room without someone saying my name.
I would wear my silvery, sparkly, somewhat dangerous top all day, because it’s shiny and it makes me happy.
But, look, I wouldn’t do any of those things if I were alone. I’d find another blocker excuse to stop me from living how I wanted. Today, I’m just using the stay-at-home orders trapping my roommate and I together.

7:
I returned a 23 palms shirt to the UPS store.
I sent emails to ads on craigslist about apartments in Washington.
I called the insurance company to fix the double claim that was denied falsely.
I made my bed, called my mother, took a shower, and put a sprig of rosemary in my hair I stole off a bush I passed while I was walking by.
These are the things I did today. I will not think more than one hour ahead.
Today I do one thing at a time.
I will now go make a playlist of music to listen to in the car tomorrow.
Notice how I hamper my own planning and future analysis brain, but I get stuff done for now.

8:
My body is smaller than it was in college,
I can see a vein in my neck now,
Feel a collarbone under my tapping.
My thighs, I’ve measured are still the same size, 24.5 inches.
My roommate told me that I’m melting.
I feel like I was supposed to look like this all along, and I’ve been hurting my body for all the things I imagined I did wrong.
There are wrinkles now around my eyes, without the fat to fill them in. And there are hip bones I forgot could close drawers.
But I still don’t know how to dance. And I still can’t do anything right.

9:
I told my therapist,
My dad said something I think you’ll think is funny.
I told him, my dad, when he asked how I used the money he sent me last week,
I said oh I’m using it to pay my therapist.
He said, so I’m literally paying for my mistakes.
I laughed.
He said, what would have been funnier is if you would have said, no for that you’d need to be paying more.
We laughed.
I’ve never seen my therapist laugh so hard, so unexpectedly.

10:
He texted, asking how I was.
I responded, and asked the same. To only receive a one-word reply.
I warned him, I’m calling you if you don’t give me anything.
So we sat on the phone for an hour.
And I oddly felt nothing but friend affection. A minor tug when he told me about another woman, how he’s going to focus on work again.
And I told him how I’m having trouble sharing.
It felt like we were friends again.
Like he made me promise,
When I made an off-color joke after he texted me for the first time in months,
Either drunk off his ass or sober, I’m not sure which is worse, he said, let’s always be friends.
I said pinky promise.
This is one of those ones where I want to read ahead in the chapters of life to see how we end, if we’re still friends in five years, or if I’ve forgotten his name, and I’m not sure where he lives.

3 thoughts on “Ten Poems in Twenty Minutes: COVID Edition Day 3

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