Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

Pandemic poetry

I weave through the mall
past streams of people
Noses in masks phones in hand
Eight minutes until my bus to
narrowly beat rush hour
I peel open plastic and
bite into fluffy coconut pineapple
A cello violin duo busks at the corner
Change is coming to the 144
But for now
A brief resemblance of normal

I learned to cook in lockdown
My first grocery run by myself
done in hurried silence
oil pepper butter soy sauce
Socially distant self checkout
Forgot to grab hand sanitizer but it was out anyways
Full pantries from sparse shelves
Tastes of home away from home
No longer relatable recipe preambles
Meal prep in plastic containers but who
had prepared for a pandemic?

I’m moving out from my parents again
Was supposed to be in Copenhagen
But even if I was in a different continent
you can’t outrun a globalized virus
Shipping container bodies
Someone coughs behind me on the bus
My Asian eyes are your unspoken goodbyes
dressed in politeness but you can’t miss
the way people social distance
Just a little bit more distance
Between us versus
Who?

I downloaded Tinder and Grindr again
And spoke to people across the street and across the sea
Feels the same difference same distance
Can I actually swipe my way to connection
the only connection I have is unstable
but your words still speak softly at night
the miracle of human desire
crossing human limitations

I failed my road test again
I have a lot of excuses to choose from
its their fault im gay we’re in a pandemic
Thought I shoulder checked my bases
Stop signs won’t stop sirens
won’t stop me from succeeding
Is that ambulance responding to the start
of a new outbreak or just a new casualty
People gotta move and so does the virus
Next time for sure

Masks are now mandatory on public transit
Mandatory in stores in schools inside
But they were always mandatory for Asian folx
Some things dont need a mask to be unspoken
We are unmasking a monster
but Karen can’t breathe
That white man isn't wearing his mask properly
and I’m too tired to shout
Muzzled

he/him/his. Living and working on unceded Coast Salish homelands in Vancouver.