• johnschengber

Three Poems from the Pandemic

I wrote these three poems during the pandemic, not for the pandemic.

I wrote them for myself and for you.

May you all be well.

John //

For When We Can

For when we can gather again

I have practiced three new songs

Cleared off a dance floor

And stockpiled the gin and tonic.

I have strung up lights

And hung neatly framed pictures

Of places across the world that

Will prompt talk of travel

And I have practiced opening the door with cheer.

For when we can gather again

It will be a July afternoon

And there will be watermelon

Ninety-nine degree sun


And no talk of quiet talk indoors.

We will hug, I know,

And we will have stories.

There will be a tremendous outbreak

Of stories

And we will cry.

Our newest anxiety,

For we’ll always have anxieties,

Will be picking who to see first,

Or not having a big enough yard for everyone,

Or fearing that it will all come roaring back to haunt us.

And sensing our short window of time,

We will be suddenly social.

So bolting towards each other,

In fact,

That some of us will retreat

Into an isolation breather


How could we possibly need to be alone?

But it will be understood.

You will take your time,

Patient in your evolution,

Because after all,

You have come to know time quite well.

You know the festivities will last.

You know we will last long into the evening,

Availing ourselves,

Stripped-down, of what was always there,

Under the same scattering of stars

That never left us.

Lamium purpureum Purple dead nettle, A good simple resilient thing. It grows in vacant lots And unkempt gardens, Showing off its hairy purple head To the bees. But who likes it more? Me or the bees? I just picked a tuft And put it in my salad, And now I am the one buzzing. I am ready to flap my cellophane wings. The spring sky has opened after a morning storm, And the whole neighborhood is reaching for it. Me, the dead nettle, the bees, The oak towering taller than ever — and even the lawn mower is waking up. We all have a future again. We are suddenly in command. We move from our caves To the trees, to the sidewalks, And there you are in the hammock That’s been empty all winter, Rocking.


Today, I stayed home. Yesterday, the extraordinary Yesterday, I stayed home. And tomorrow, too, Will come like the river. There is no stopping it. There is no keeping it. I have not a drop of control. All the same,

I am floating.

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© 2020 by John Schengber

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