By Eftychia Mikelli
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by isolation madness, famished, deranged, tattered,
dragging themselves on the marble floors of dawn looking for whiskey and opiates,
covidheaded zombies burnt out from the contemporary infernal connection to the rot and pus of pandemic months,
who waited in seconal apartment coffins through endless day and night,
who contemplated jumping off windows to save themselves from the unbearable damnation of isolation,
whose brains cracked under crepuscular hammering in sick nouveau riche flats,
who drank themselves to oblivion and topped it off with Xanax for comatose sleep,
who studied Kerouac, Ginsberg and Acker and ended up with punctured retinas,
who contemplated murder, suicide, jazz and poetry and gave it all up for love,
who did their best but wound up loveless, penniless and forlorn decomposing in dilapidated flats
till putrid emanations summoned death,
who led reality raids but got busted in ridiculous hold-ups holding water guns,
who got ambushed walking in parks and swimming in the sea and had no money to pay the fines –
and whose lot was therefore cast with fates worse than death
yet went through it all with gigantic joints and whiskey jars
and shone through it all with fire eyes silently collecting cigarette butts on disobedience roads.
What chainsaw drill went through your skull as you lay there in tortured slumber?
Covid! Quarantine! Contamination! Excrement! Women screaming in box flats! Boys sobbing in
hospitals! Old men catching death on buses!
Covid! Covid! Nightmare of Covid!
Covid the Oppressor! Mental Covid! Covid the Great Infector of Men!
Lockdown Covid! Covid the soulless death and Senate of pain! State Inertia Covid! Fear and Terror of Covid!
Covid whose mind is panic! Covid whose breath burns money! Covid whose mouth is unmasked!
Covid whose hands are bare! Covid whose touch is numb! Covid whose ears are dissonant cough!
Covid whose eyes see corpses! Covid who raids cities, hospitals and hearses! Covid whose hugs blight cities!
Covid whose love is cremation and tombs! Covid whose soul is disaster and ruin! Covid whose poverty is the failing of genius! Covid whose name is Horror!
Covid whose doings are crippling! Withered Penis Covid! Breakup Covid! Tinder Covid!
Abstinence Covid! Valium Covid! Isolation Insanity Covid!
Prison Covid! Homeless Covid! Refugee Camp Covid!
Covid! Covid! Dread and Isolation! Media Covid! Viral Covid! Government Covid!
Gloves! Masks! Antiseptic! Disinfectant gels, wet wipes, toilet roll and shit!
Anxiety! Confinement! Curfew! Punishment! Urban border control! Disobedience! Illicit midnight calls! Forbidden walks on twilight beaches!
Covid who escaped and wreaks havoc – real mad laughter in the city! They saw it all! The crack-up!
They spat on it! They jumped off their balconies! Into the void! To freedom!
Having travelled extensively, I am now based in Athens, where we are experiencing one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe. These conditions have inspired me to rework and adapt Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” to reflect the contemporary experience of isolation and fear.
In the title the words “isolation” and “howl” are intertwined.