Wednesday, December 9, 2020


The disposable facemask
lying forlornly on the ground
in the parking lot,
used, abandoned, perhaps even hated.
Tossed carelessly between cars
like a used condom or fast food wrapper.
It doesn’t look like some kind of torture device.
It looks thin, inexpensive, medical, utilitarian.
So many Facebook posts, written in all caps.
So many viral videos of people screaming at weary store managers.
Such resistance
for such a small thing.
So many lives saved,


I bought a cursed coffee mug
from a small, cluttered store
in New Orleans,
you know, the kind with incense 
and crystals and supposed
voodoo talismans.
It was a simple white coffee cup,
imprinted with various local attractions,
and I don’t normally go for touristy stuff,
but this cup called to me,
and somehow,
though I couldn’t really explain it,
I had to have it.
And it was $4.95,
so it was a pretty good deal.
Its cursed nature manifested itself
not long after I returned home
and started using the cup.
Kitchen cabinets started opening by themselves.
Dishes and utensils suddenly appeared 
in the wrong cabinets and drawers.
Once, I filled the coffee cup with cool water
that immediately started boiling
as the cup sat on the counter.
I had troubling dreams too,
dreams of laughing demons 
telling me I was damned,
visions of an angry elderly woman
with a slit throat,
opening her mouth to scream,
but no sound ever came out.
I’ve tried explaining this to people,
but they don’t really believe me,
not even my psychiatrist,
who prescribes me yet another sleeping pill.
I could try to throw it away, 
but it really is the best coffee cup I have.
The perfect thickness of the lip,
the pleasingly textured finish,
the ample depth.
Plus, you can put it in the dishwasher
or the microwave.


For five days straight,
the thick heavy wet white flakes
tumbled down recklessly,
never letting up even for a minute.
and school was closed,
and offices were closed,
and restaurants and stores,
and everything was closed,
except for that 24-hour pancake place,
but how could you even get there?
And the only way I figured they stayed open
was that the owner who worked in the front,
his kids who ran the kitchen,
and that waitress with the smoker’s cough
just never left the restaurant that whole time.

If I opened my front door,
I faced an eight-foot wall of solid snow,
packed in tight and frozen hard.
I had to chisel out a tunnel
just so my dog could take a shit,
but it was a wasted effort.
She spent her brief time outside
whining, confused,
poking her nose 
into the walls of the snow cavern
around her,
then she got too cold and started crying,
and held up her right front paw helplessly,
so I had to carry her back in,
and she crapped on the floor immediately.

And I knew this storm was coming,
everyone knew this storm was coming,
but I wasn’t sure that I had enough food
because it wasn’t supposed to go on this long
and the snow wasn’t supposed to get this high,
and what if the power goes out?
Then we’d be screwed.
So every day,
I worked for a few hours on my tunnel,
trying to dig out a little farther,
hoping to join someone else’s tunnel,
and my hands were cold and numb,
and my feet, despite my boots,
felt cold and wet.

I heard that Paul,
the idiot who lives down the street,
got out on his roof
and tried to jump down onto the top
of the huge snow bank.
He survived,
wasn’t really hurt at all,
considering he’s usually drunk
and never wearing a shirt.