Three Poems

By Mark Fishbein

Coronavirus, March 16, 2020

Remember, too, the young Giorgione
Visiting his lover by her bed of red death,
Only to succumb himself. That, too,
Was a terrible time to be alive.

In the microscopic universe of microbes,
Corona appears the perfect ornament
To hang from the Christmas tree;
A green bubbly marshmallow
With hundreds of phallic tubes
Leading to red poisonous lips…

Corona chooses victims as does all nature-
The elderly first, then the sick and frail.
Once branded senior, now I’m branded elderly.
This is quite sudden. A conspiracy!
They predict a lot of dead people. Elderly people.

Science has spoken- Stay in your abode!
I have painted the door with lamb’s blood,
I have anointed my skin in rubbing alcohols.
I’ll stay in my cubby hole for six months,
And rewrite all my poems.

It is now just the first hours, the first days.
The engine of civilization sputters.
The food will be delivered, unpacked
With methodically washed hands.
I’ll pretend it’s a voyage on a sailing ship –
By day, I’ll stay in the cabin. I’ll go out at night,
And stare at the stars all alone on the deck.

Every hour the bright and cheerful virus
Does the unthinkable and challenges another
In a winner take all duel of survival.
What will I do if my friends start dying?
Let it not be you or I, let us be strong!
Do not be the one the living shall mourn.

friday all day 4/10/20

day after day spent in this room
trying to remember the earth
memories in a brain freeze

humanity exists in two dimensions on the screens
just the idea of going to a movie seems bizarre
i’m shipwrecked scratching numbers on a wall

it is hard to concentrate
when does the rage begin
day after day in this penance for what crimes i can’t imagine

never to kiss you on both cheeks when we meet
never to touch anybody ever

enough basta get me outa here
its spring in the city and the winds are howling all night long

every morning we ask where does this end
every hour in a sci-fi timeline
every new prediction from a cracked silver ball
this may be years
years of our freedoms redefined

y’ know

when the dance halls open up that’s where i’ll go
where time is forgiven o let there be sordo drums
let there be sirens and mirrored balls ringing

when skyscrapers play with changing colored lights
tambourines bugle horns electric violins
deafening to awaken the child hiding inside me

and dancing in the streets shirtless in a hot pool of flesh
sniffing perfumes to intoxicate a heartbeat to euphoria
it will be as it was when all that mattered was the city night

The Year of COVID

The future is due sooner or later.
It’s stuck in traffic or missing a train.
I spend the year in a waiting room
Like under a willow in the rain.

How impatiently the days pass
Spinning like a tumble weed.
How little the moments last–
Time consumes all it receives.

I toss and turn in this morning
Knowing the hours to be worn,
Every minute another death recorded,
Every minute another tragedy born.

We who survive may look back
After the cures free us to mourn,
Holding hands in halls of packed
Humanity singing a requiem song.

The future will come, later or sooner,
Reaffirming it’s on the way.
But we have been to war and wounded,
And will never be the same.

A native New Yorker, I currently live in Washington DC.  I am host to two weekly poetry workshop groups, now on Zoom, and have 5 books available which can be seen in my website  I play a classical and nylon string guitar to accompany my readings.  I am seeking now to publish 3 books- translations of the poet Paul Eluard, “Reflections in the time of Trumpius Maximus” (which the COVID poems are a part of), and an ekphrastic book “Poet’s Diary: Monuments and Sculpture of Washington D.C.”  I do poetry creativity workshops with all ages.  I had a 40 year career in the silk screen printing business as one of the innovators in printing and tie-dyeing, and am now “retired”.  I always had poetry in my pocket, and now it’s full time.  My wife and I have two sons, 3 grandchildren.  Contact

It has been about a year now since Coronavirus, now called COVID-19 arrived.  During that time I wrote 14 poems, recording the history, my emotions and the mood of the times, the lockdowns, the hundreds of thousands dying, and sometimes even humor. I recently titled the small collection “The COVID Odes”.  I am planning to end with one more poem, as in two days I get my first vaccine shot.  Quarantine, lock-downs, fear, paranoia, sadness are all part of this collection using several poetic forms.  It is in a sense, an historical document, but also about my presence in it.  

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