Toilet Paper

All the bars are closed,
and the happy hours
are gone.
The bartenders are quarantined.
And the DJs —
what are the DJs up to?

The coffee shops are sanitized
and vacant.
It seems
the espresso machines
are silently waiting
for the old status quo to return.
You know,
my nostrils miss the coffee aroma
of weekday mornings.

I walk around
wearing a disposable surgical mask
and disposable latex gloves.

I look around.
Nothing has changed,
but everything seems different.
And no one’s here
with me
to see what I see.

I find a supermarket open,
and I walk in.
I don’t need anything,
so I walk out.
Then I walk back in
and buy
toilet paper.

March 12, 2020: Untitled

Woke up.
Neck pain. Back pain.
I wore yesterday’s clothes.

On my way to work,
the movie “28 Days Later” came to my mind.
Emptiness. Abandoned spaces.
Few cars.
It’s the end of the world, I thought.
It’s the end of my world.

And now I’m here
smoking a cigarette on the sidewalk,
inhaling the fear of death that’s in the air.
This Thursday feels like a Sunday,
but I’m not praying.
I’m thinking: Motherfuckers,
I was looking forward to
open sausages and open beer,
but they just told me
all restaurants are closed until further notice.

Corruption and incompetency.
Impotence.
The economic crisis.
The COVID-19 pandemic.
What’s next and what can we do?
We can’t run — they’re shutting down the airports.
We can’t hide — we’ll starve.

I can’t work.
I can’t think.

And now in the office,
in my rolling chair,
I’m trying to get rid of
this brain fog
by scrolling down
my Facebook newsfeed.

Moments ago,
I called the convenience store
and ordered wet wipes and
hand sanitizers.

I’m alone in the office.
There’s no one else here.

March 9, 2020: Unnecessary Notes after Reading “White Nights” by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Last night, I reread Dostoevsky’s “White Nights.” Then I had dinner, and then some tea. I thought about the story, whether or not I should write a review about it… but I worked on a poem instead.

“White Nights” is one of Dostoevsky’s best short stories, along with “Bobok” and “The Dream of a Ridiculous Man.” It tells the story of a lonely man — a dreamer — who falls in love with a poor girl called Nastenka.

It has a good plot; the ending is brilliant. But what I like best is the part where the narrator describes what it means to be a ‘dreamer.’ I can relate to that.

***

The most beautiful part is right before the narrator begins talking about himself:

“[…] Come, make haste—begin—tell me your whole history.”

“My history!” I cried in alarm. “My history! But who has told you I have a history? I have no history….”

“Then how have you lived, if you have no history?” she interrupted, laughing.

“Absolutely without any history! I have lived, as they say, keeping myself to myself, that is, utterly alone—alone, entirely alone. Do you know what it means to be alone?”

(A dreamer may have stories to tell, but what he doesn’t have is history.)

(And a lazy person like me may have a lot of ideas, but what he doesn’t have is the will to write them down.)

I will end this journal entry here.