By Juliana Thompson
Zooming/Hug Me in the Matrix
I won’t forget the month they tried to trap me in a single identity.
A single timeline, in a bubble alone
But it’s only our physical form that’s poison
And so we’d escape those dangerous shells for now
And continue our lives without them
If we get to the Matrix we can go on with life
So we picked each other up
And picked up where we left off
And so we shattered our bodies
And put them back together again
Once we transform ourselves into pure light
And shrink ourselves to portable size
Then we’ll meet each other there
And I held all your souls in a box and a screen
Just as you all held mine
And you all could vanish at the death of a battery
But I’d plug your souls back in
And see you smile again
We won’t let anything rip us apart
So we turned to transformation
We broke the bonds of location
We rebuilt our ourselves again in two dimensions
And our bodies glowed
We are the opposite of shadows
We are only light and sound
But it doesn’t matter if you’re matter
Or if you’re only waves
You’re still you, and I’m still me
We couldn’t be held down
So we come together in a different form
We’ll go to a place where we truly can’t be found
We’ll run far away to the Matrix
Where we can be ourselves and hold each other close
In our new form we are harmless
They’ll never find us all here
And we’ll hug and toast our glasses
And we’ll stay here until it’s safe to be human again
The Future Nostalgia
They all tell us that someday, the future kids will learn from this
That they will look back and remember how we got through the war of the germs, learn from our mistakes and make a plan for the future
I hope and know they will.
They say this is a chance to appreciate life more…
But looking back at the reality, and learning from it, and studying it, won’t be quite enough.
I want a false version of all of this someday.
Long after this is over…
Future children, I hope you try to become like me, for just a few hours, and you call it a 2020 party
I hope you put on face masks, decorate them with markers, under the sign that reads ”decorate your own masks,” and I hope they make some small enough for your dolls too.
I hope at your 2020 party you greet each other with elbow bumps.
And make the rule that everyone stays 6 feet from each other!
Except this time it’s a party game and the only risk is that you lose!
I hope you wear sweatpants when you pretend to be us, because they say that was all we wore when we were stuck in quarantine
Future children, those who never experienced what we did, I hope you never have to. But I also hope that you can take our struggles and try them on like costumes in the Halloween shop, then take them off again.
Because for you it will have no cost, it will be free, it will be just for a few hours. And you’ll be warping it into something just for fun
And maybe this all sounds senseless now….
And yet last summer, I sat in the grass and I looked up at the warplanes flying overhead
The worst war on earth was having its moment to shine, with amusement park rides on the side, the greatest show
And we had blended it with glory and romance and made something of our own
There are WWII costumes for Halloween,
If it could change for just one day, could show only the flimsy shadow of light to us, then this can too!
Future children, I want to see costumes someday too, with our facemasks and sweatpants,
I hope we are now living in the real and painful version of your golden fantasy
Because it is our gift to you, our descendants
The opportunity to have one more way to celebrate, to become your favorite version of us
We are next ones to be romanticized, altered to become your vision of valor and determination
Make us feel like the lucky ones! Turn on your Zoom alone in your houses, have a nostalgic video chat party, and pretend it is 2020 again
Like only someone who was born afterward can do…
I want to see the children who never experienced the struggles, thinking they are pretending to be us, but instead were making us, building us from the ground up, based on our echoes and reflection,
Taking only the best parts, Like we did to the ones before us.
We will have been warriors, and the best history in life is free of cost, yours to take
So future children, born long after this is over, if I missed parties for this, promise you will let me someday become a party myself.
The Siege of 2020
World War 3 is different from the first two, because it’s what’s on the inside, not the outside, that counts. The enemy is invisible, our bodies are being hijacked, by hypnotic intruders. Though we can never feel it, our bodies are armories, and when these fortresses are taken over, they work for the enemy and get every other body on their side. We wish our brains to command control of this, like they do for so many things. We want to shout to our cells to warn them. How can we be so clever, our minds stacked with scientific wisdom, and yet the pieces that make us up are still so foolish and easily tricked? We work with this, and separate our bodies from the others. They can’t work for the enemy if we keep them hidden.
To fight the war isn’t to battle, or use weapons, or to do anything that is perceptively violent. It is simply to stay put, use the ancient tactics of a siege. With nowhere to go, the hackers can’t make a move on anyone else.
When we expose ourselves we wear armor, but it doesn’t work the same as other armor does. This kind protects others from ourselves, in case we have evil things hidden inside that we don’t know are there. But it isn’t so bad, because with my armor on, I get to be with you all. We pattern it with colors and designs to remind each other, this is what brings us together again.
This war story stood out, because the heroism is all about what we didn’t do, not what we did. We were fighting by relaxation. It was against our image of what a warrior was, but it was the truth.
There are master wizards fighting hard, figuring out how to teach the tiniest of cells to never believe the lies of the intruders, and how to fight the enemy inside. When I was small and afraid to be stabbed, I wouldn’t have understood this. But now I know it will make us free. The irony of our salvation, the tiny injuries that will free us, is fighting the enemy with broken pieces of itself, carefully designed and perfected.
We will protect each other until then, and when the war is over and we have outsmarted the enemy from the outside in, we will celebrate with closeness again. On our Armistice Day we will hold each other once again.
I’m a college graduate from the Class of 2020! I’m a history major and I’ve been writing poetry since middle school. All the weird and wonderful parts of life inspire me!
Poem 1: Zooming/Hug Me in the Matrix
This poem describes my experiences using Zoom and other virtual socialization throughout lockdown. Many people talk about making sacrifices during the lockdown period, but I wanted a poem that turned that around, and instead talked about NOT sacrificing fun. Instead, I just had fun in a different form than usual.
Poem 2: The Future Nostalgia
I love going to “decade” or “retro” themed parties. All those times in history had a lot of problems attached to them, but for a moment, we make it into something fun. I imagine a future where the “quarantine era” of 2020 can become a festivity like this, for people who never experienced it themselves.
Poem 3: The Siege of 2020
When I think of the coronavirus, I think of a battle going on inside bodies, with viruses as the enemy and cells as warriors fighting hard. This poem tries to capture that image of an intense, epic war, featuring everything from masks to self-isolation to vaccines.