Living on Covid Time




Living on Covid Time

You read the newspaper
and there they are
on every page
conclusions drawn
from wisps of smoke.
There is no big data
just sad data.

You Facetime, Whatsapp, Zoom
and always there’s that moment
when you look at that small rectangle
in the top right hand corner of the screen
and think “Ahh for fuck’s sake
is that really me?”

In the absence of the new
the brain feeds on itself
like an animal caught in a snare,
in a dream you drive to a town in British Columbia
which for some reason is called Trenton
you attend a meeting at a hotel
where everyone knows you
but you know no one.
You walk out into a vast square
full of white marble statues
of a man lost in thought
elbow on knee, chin on fist.

You watch Germans play soccer
in an empty stadium
and it’s not a dream.

You take your bike
down to the Fraser River
and cycle through Southlands
past the stables and the houses of the rich,
horses, but no courses,
a steaming mound of dung balls
decorates the road
that Covid sun is shining
and no one is making hay.


The challenge this week over at earthweal is “Vast Particulars”.
“Illustrate the changing tenor of the time with a snapshot or observation or tale which is both vast and particular”


18 thoughts on “Living on Covid Time

  1. Sherry Marr

    I SO relate to the self-image on Zoom. LOL. I love the dream trip and then, even more, the bike ride through Southlands, which I remember from my Vancouver days. Always wonderful to read you, Jim.


  2. susanstoo

    “In the absence of the new
    the brain feeds on itself
    like an animal caught in a snare . . . ” This image/simile resonates with me. The zoom, the news, the lack of any data, too much to be sad about—but, I am certain the rich are still making hay no matter what grows or stagnates on the more human level.


  3. earthweal

    Direct to the point, the challenge I mean: In a world turned upside down, observations can only be topsy-turvy, slant, skewed — no wonder dreams figure in so many COVID reflections, in themselves to vastly particular … Robert Bly once said you should only put a dream into at the end of a poem, it leaves the poem at a vast shore: But these days, I think the appropriate locus is in the middle of a poem, as you do, in media res, because we are walking through the abyss with a drowned Virgil for guide. That German soccer game in an empty stadium is the vast particular for me here, “not a dream” but how could it otherwise be? Amen. Well done, Jim – Brendan


  4. Suzanne

    This poem really speaks to me of the world of covid 19 without the masks on. So much of what people say and do right now seems masked and disingenuous. Its refreshing to read words that go to that sense of uncertainty and disbelieve that lurks behind so many conversations now.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. kim881

    You hit the nail on the head with this, Jim: ‘There is no big data / just sad data’; and I identify with the second stanza, life in the small rectangle. The dream sequence is also familiar; I’ve been dreaming more vividly lately – I love the ‘man lost in thought / elbow on knee, chin on fist’.


  6. Sherry Marr

    Jim, on Monday at earthweal, we are planning an online protest – bring your protest poems or prose on whatever keeps you awake at night! Hope to see you there!



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