Distance Yearning

Editor's Note

Hey friends: welcome to the first issue of Distance Yearning, which I’m calling an “online lit mag & interactive quaranzine”. This is my first foray into online publishing, so I hope you enjoy it!

Since COVID-19 started hitting NYC, I’ve lost the job I work at, the reading series I run, & the in-person artistic spaces that I really cherish. This project is a way to cope with all of these; something to pour my energy into it that can hopefully bring together artists who are feeling cut off & isolated in the current pandemic.

Every week I’ll be putting out an issue with a theme & a call to submit for the following week! Give this issue a read, then check back later today for next week’s theme; you can also follow us on Twitter or Instagram & we’ll be sharing art from this issue on social media over the next five days.

& now for this week’s theme:

“Distance yearning. How it feels to long for something that's always out of reach. Loving the moon or lusting for the moon or having your girlfriend turn into the moon. That's rough, buddy. How something so far away can move oceans. How we've been to the moon before and, god damn it, we'll be back there someday.”

Mike


Christy Admiraal: “I Could Storm This!”

“I Could Storm This!”

The day Obama got sworn into office, I watched the inauguration at a pub, most likely one named after Robert Burns, with a Canadian and a Scotswoman in the most tourist-friendly but still authentically British corner of Edinburgh. I didn’t know how to drink then, not the way I do now, so I sipped Magners and amaretto sours and we talked about how happy it made us -- the Canadian seeing progressivism so close to his home, the Scotswoman trusting we might know what we were doing for once election-wise, and me, watching the first presidential candidate I ever got the chance to vote for step up to the podium and put his hand on a Bible.

Scotland was like a dream, and mostly a very good one. Everything I thought London would be -- old world charming, cultured, bustling, beautiful -- Edinburgh was, while London felt a lot like every other metropolitan city I’d ever been. Edinburgh was like strolling through everything you’d ever wanted out of a winter vacation, plus haggis. Edinburgh was the only place, outside of my actual home, at which I’d felt at home. I didn’t really get there again, not until I wound up in a sub-400-square-foot, fourth-floor walkup in the middle of Manhattan three and a half years later.

But we’re not talking about Manhattan, or my current apartment in Brooklyn, though Brooklyn feels like home in quite a different way from Scotland or Manhattan or my hometown in Michigan -- that would be a story for another time, a story that starts rosy but gets progressively more bleak day by literal day as I’m all but stuck in this gorgeous 1BR/1BA with one stir-crazy spouse and two cats, one ecstatic both her humans are home all the time, the other largely indifferent but still fat and happy as ever. We’re talking about Scotland, the way my equilibrium shifted on the bus ride from Edinburgh to Loch Lomond, the Highlands, the single most beautiful landscape I’ve ever seen, non-tropical edition. (A note on Hawaii: comparing an island paradise to a rocky, hilly terrain in the middle of Great Britain is a fool’s errand. For me, it’s like pitting Sour Patch Kids against Raisinets: two perfect candies bearing no resemblance to each other whatsoever. And we’re not talking about Hawaii, either. We’re talking about Scotland. I cannot emphasize this enough.) Scotland, where I developed a crush on a girl named Chelsea I barely saw again, despite sharing the space on a campus housing perhaps 500 people at a time. Scotland, where I developed another crush, this one on a girl named Victoria, who determined at some point that her Scottish clan served my Scottish clan in the days when that sort of thing happened. Scotland, where I ate cookies at the cafe where Rowling wrote Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, drank endless ciders at a pub called the three sisters, and explored the mostly intact remains of an actual castle. “I could storm this! What’s the big deal?” one of my chaperones and professors exclaimed on our way in. The joke holds up. The memory holds up.

Looking out my window now -- and one mixed blessing of this apartment is the floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room, which normally give me a glimpse of the weather I’m about to enter, and currently tease me, beckoning me to break out, take to the streets, stand too close to a stranger on the subway, hug someone I haven’t seen in two weeks, pick up a cookie from the bakery across the street (the best chocolate chip in the city, by my estimation), et cetera, et cetera. But I can’t. Can’t unless it’s essential. And fewer things seem to qualify for that by the day.

Still.

Still, the memory holds up, and the sky, if you look at it, neck craned, slightly sideways, looks like the one I saw darken slightly the day I was in the Highlands before it rained. The sky didn’t open up, just let out a few isolated drops, which fell on the digital camera I’d borrowed from my then-fiance. I tucked it away. I’d gotten my photos. I boarded the bus and we jumped back into the viewing of Braveheart we’d begun on the way there. Cliche, maybe. But sometimes cliches are good. This one is, because it’s just as real as the simmering anxiety that’s become as much a part of me as my blue eyes and pale skin and bizarrely conjoined toes (just the second two on each foot, and no, I don’t want elective surgery, especially not now). We all feel it. There is no togetherness, not in a literal sense, right now. But there’s a connection. There’s a means of sharing. That’s what I’m doing now. That’s something we can all at least attempt to do. That’s as real as the rain on my face as I left a distillery in the middle of a loch in 2009. Reality is dim and hopeless right now. But I don’t believe it’ll be that way forever. And I don’t
want you to, either.

Christy Admiraal is a writer and editor. She lives in Brooklyn, where she presently spends most of her time stress baking, improving the living conditions of her Animal Crossing island, and thinking about going for a run.

Josephine Blair: “lying low”

lying low

i think maybe i’ll buzz my head
again. the nearest shaving
of grass is five floors away, a little far
so i can’t be sure
but it looks like the earth
is healing a bit
while the humans
lie low. i think maybe
i’ll take off all my clothes, open
every window and sing so soft
only blades of grass can hear
the itching, so deep
only my lowest vertebrae feel
the way things start to twist & then never want
to stop cracking. i think maybe
i’ll only listen to italian music
from the 90’s. that’s when i was born
& i’d really like to know
what aging would sound like
if done properly.
it looks like red wine
is the only food left
in the kitchen. not ideal
during a quarantine, but not the worst
for coupling with 90’s italian
pop music. there’s been
no sun in days, and it’s too cold
for me, almost always
too cold for me. but the birds
are louder than ever
each morning, i could swear
i even heard crickets last night.
or maybe it was the dying
squeaks from the neighbor’s
fireworks—nothing says celebration
like pandemic
when you work from home in Williamsburg
with your dog. but even now,
i think i’m hearing
crickets nestle into some new division
of time that i can’t feel
except through wind
too cold for me, & Paolo Conte is singing
about how wonderful
it is & my naked body is stretching
itself across insect wings
into some dew i can’t quite taste
& so i can’t be sure
but it feels like the earth
is healing a bit
while the humans lie low.

Josephine Blair is a Brooklyn-based writer and Brooklyn Poets fellow, whose work has been published by Epiphany Magazine, Cathexis Northwest Press, Allegory Ridge, Duck Lake Press, and elsewhere. Due to COVID-19 closures, she’s officially unemployed and pretty scared about her financial future, but is using this time to work on an MFA application—so maybe she's not scared enough about her financial future.

Adrian Ernesto Cepeda: "[He] the island that surrounds us"

[He]
the island that surrounds us
From a 2011 photograph Christmas Morning, Montreal by Maureen Drennan

Even before he unwraps
the present, I hear him
in the guest bathroom,
my husband, trying to brush
the taste of sadness out
of his mouth. He looks,
staring down, seeing
the water overflow, splashing
worry if he is wondering:
Am I going to sink again?
He looks drained, attempting
to floss away the guiltiness
of his distance, seeing him
floating in desolation, I can
hear through the running
water as he slowly slips,
trickling inside his suffering
silence. I whisper, keep
brushing, trying to sail
him back with encouragement
snapping focus to our shore,
I shutter trying to capture
his voice of sadness
every time he tries to blink
when his words fail, wish
my picture could fill in,
feeling him fading before
the mirror, X-mas lights
flash behind the mistletoe,
although I picture him in front
of me, why does it seem
like my husband’s miles
away, drifting, back—
cracks in his icicle glare, lost
as the water freezing splashes,
I can feel the current taking
my husband shrinking him
deeper, and even before
he unwraps the present
inside, the bathroom
leaking memories, I can
see his eyes sinking again.

Adrian Ernesto Cepeda is the author of the full-length poetry collection Flashes & Verses… Becoming Attractions from Unsolicited Press, the poetry chapbook So Many Flowers, So Little Time from Red Mare Press, Between the Spine published with Picture Show Press and La Belle Ajar, a collection of cento poems inspired by Sylvia Plath’s 1963 novel published by CLASH Books. You can connect with Adrian on his website: http://www.adrianernestocepeda.com/

York Chen: “Writ”

Writ

I started to run again, today. I am actually rather accomplished at this.
I have started to run successfully, now, at least a half-dozen times,
and I do this with great facility. In fact, I am quite sure I am
improving. The secret is getting started; a confident first step
is crucial. I hear Tommy Wright III, Young Jeezy, and God on the first day:
“Don’t start no shit, won’t be no shit.”

First steps are all alike. An effusion, then the explosion;
a phreatic enthusiasm bubbling, erupting from where sweat glands lie dormant.
The sweat is the passion is the proof in the pudding are the calories burnt,
is that I have done something right, and undeniably right, whereby
salt, water, skin flora, dermal silt, sluice in intertriginous crevices.

Before I take the second steps, again, I hesitate. The first second time,
I considered it an investment; the second second times, a divertissement.
At times running I visualize cortisol, the scapegoat molecule du jour, like
red-hot tendrils of Flaming Hot Cheetos, receding in my bloodstream.
Running I imagine the future health of my vasculature,
arteries unclogged, coronaries patent, blood flow laminar;
running I imagine sanguine viscous rivulets thin, red cells free,
hemoglobin gifting soothing O2 to gasping organs;
running I imagine I am replacing the crumbling signal system of the MTA’s B division;
running I imagine roads without Hummers, only warblers, and Old World babblers;
running I imagine Columbus before his maps;
running I imagine maps before Columbus;
running I imagine others running, breathing, alive,
and the privilege it is to call things a privilege;
running I imagine my misery while running, because in fact I think I hate
running I doubt I am built for this, this sweating,
because maybe my inertia is inevitable,
because inertia comes from in- and -ars and I am usually in my arse
and maybe it is writ small in my heart
that I have my father’s heart and will have my father’s heart attack.

I remember that I have always given up, unfailingly failing
like a printer that jams every third page, only the jam is in my physiology
and then my superego. Running I confront my impotence;
running I am uncertain of the shape of coming change,
of the shape of our plutocracy, of the shape of my EKG.
Haile Gebrselassie is to the marathon what I am to not knowing what the fuck.

Why do I try to run? To figure out why I try to run, I think.

York Chen (he/him) is learning medicine and also how to do other good and meaningful things, because quarantine or not what we have to have is each other.


Chiara Di Lello: “In a Season”, “relay”

In a Season

My knees cradle
the green paper pint
of blackberries we fled the city to pick ourselves
in a rental car threading from highway
into the high hills where sun was busy
filling fruit with warmth

From behind leaves we pushed, bearlike
into their coves of August heat and sweetness
held in cupped hands all we were about to let go
their glowing dark globes, hearts in the brambles
a hundred gatherings of stubbornness and time

Turning like a lazy bee the car
takes the concrete ramp and twists
into the sun’s evening spill.
Back from planet blackberry we re-engage
gravity, and your words
pull heart, belly, berries lower with the road
words that will turn this day
into a postcard of past time,
turn you into the lonely sound
of planes I will bend to watch, high and away

Yes, I would have kept you past your season
wrapped in that golden light
promised to remember our sweetness so clearly
I could hold it in my mouth

but that day I forgot to mourn
the loss that clips the heels of each delight
and reveled instead at my steps stirring scent from the earth
this good weight of my bones
the tenderness we handed each other from humble paper
giving that left no wound, only more to give and give


relay

come back all the time until you know
the locals, the resident birds and trees
until they know your order, your favorites
your rhythm on concrete

say nothing that will mar the flesh
or breath of this afternoon
but bring the wind back with you
trailing that clement sky

tell me there's someone on duty in the fire station
someone to call for a ride, for a loan
of heat or gentleness, someone to hold
the line of shoulder and neck
someone who will repair
like the return of sight or snow

Chiara Di Lello is a writer and teacher. While this new normal means that her spring tree-watching happens mostly through the window and her floors are cleaner than ever, it has not changed her commitment to lots of reading and daily cups of coffee.

Lori Fagerholm: three poems

It’s been a year, or a hundred, or a thousand years
since that warm night when I snuck away from the gala
to hide beneath the blooming wisteria, like a kid behind the bleachers,

and I saw you and you saw me
with the same spirited-away
brand of donated IPA

Crouched, quiet, in our shined shoes,
we craned to hear
the sounds of the crickets waking

If that was the last time I ever see you,
at least there were the bright stars in the inky sky,
the white blossoms overhead, like our own constellations.

///

You have no idea
the adventures we’ve gone on
in my mind

///

I’ve lived the whole day dreaming
of the moment I could
draw this rose
to send to you

Lori Fagerholm is a graphic designer and writer currently sheltering in place in Berkeley, CA. As a person at high risk due to chronic illness, she's deeply grateful for the essential personnel still at work, and would also be grateful if more of those who can stay home would do so, please, thank you very much.

Hannah Gadbois: two collages

Carousel imageCarousel image

Hannah normally lives and works in Rhode Island. As a server during a restaurant shutdown, she just lives there.


Michael Hedrick: three photographs

Carousel imageCarousel imageCarousel image

Mike Hedrick is an artist and photographer in Boulder, CO. He’d love to get out more but for now he’s stuck inside.

Tyler King: “Refuse”, “Interlude”

Refuse

The cruelty is godless,
I guess that’s what I love about it,
I could stop
anytime I want to, but who is going
to write a song about that? Needle
in the hay, I walk six blocks to the
corner store and I walk six blocks back and in all that time I didn’t die once, I don’t know how anybody can live like this, crinkling the plastic bags until daybreak, taking the trash to the curb, watching the dust take the shape of everything
I love, yes it’s gotten real quiet
around here, yes I am waiting for a kiss
that isn’t going to come, my head rolls back and forth and back and forth like the clock’s useless hands, I can’t stand to look at my wrists, I can’t answer
any questions, it’s not a good time,
it’s trash day and all, the street is
overflowing, the street is an altar,
the street is an axis
of oppression but who am I to say it
out loud, I don’t know a fucking thing
my guy, I turn the lights off and on and off and on and I run the bills up and I soak my shirts in gasoline and I invent new diseases in my free time and give them to you one by one, until you’re as sick as I am, until neither one of us can get up
and walk out the door


Interlude

From the cold, a dream,
from a dream, a message; you were right
about everything, you were standing
so close to me, pressed your hands
like a secret into my hands and you were laughing so loud and it feels like
everything in the night was laughing
with you but of course this is a
photograph, of course this is a film,
we’re in the playback / life never ends / but it never starts either / so fuck I guess / we’ve got nothing but time

Would you kill for love? I guess
I don’t understand
the question, but I’m tempted to say yes,
feels like I’d kill for anything
anyway, I want to go out but I want
to be invisible, I want a home but I want
to be a ghost in the attic, I guess it’s not
so easy, everyone’s got those eyes
and ours are getting darker
by the minute, let’s go somewhere,
steal the light from streetlamps /
trade our names for a heaven / never cry again / one / two / three / four / we don’t live here anymore / spin the chamber /
hit the floor / it’s history, you understand,
it’s a question in retrograde, I would ask you but you know
how this goes, you’ve seen
every ending, you know your lines,
I lean in for a kiss and we both fall
asleep at the wheel

Tyler King is a poet and communist from southern Ohio. They are working on staving off The Fear by pouring over words and poems with the urgency and madness of a haunted archaeologist, and also by planting a nice garden in Animal Crossing.

Collin Knopp-Schwyn: “Version of Record”

Version of Record

There's something wrong with Dad.

I made it home before they closed the airports.
He said he'd meet me at baggage claim.
I found him at the Hudson News instead.
His hands shook.
I told him I'd drive us back.

"See if they reopened the library."
"They won't have.
This thing's only getting worse."
"Just check."
Still shuttered.

My bed is the same as when I last slept in it.
No one has made it or stripped the sheets.
I was last here two springs ago for the reunion.
Dad trembles in his study.

"Hey hey hey!
I'm here now.
We're gonna be okay.
We have resources.
We're together.
We're safe.
You don't have to worry."
"Tuesday."
"What's on Tuesday?"
"Everything will be okay on Tuesday."

I eat dinner alone.
Dad is absentminded or absent.

His scream rouses me too early.
"They're closing the post office!
They aren't delivering the mail!"
"We have what we need here.
We're safe.
We're"
"THEY CLOSED UPS TOO!
HOW CAN I GET IT NOW?"

Dad is upset.
A month ago he started reading Junji Ito's Uzumaki.
Two days ago he returned the library copy.
And ordered his own.
Which now will never come.

In the morning we eat cereal.
Dad is catatonic.
I suggest pirating the book online.
He perks.
We rush to the den computer.
Then nothing.
Lights on the router not working.
I check my phone.
4G is down.
Dad is sobbing.

I don't know how to handle this so I don't.
Avoidance.
Dad avoids me.
It's a big house but not that big.

It's been a week.
I need to go outside.
The air feels different.
I wish it felt better.
I can't know how much danger I'm in.
I return home immediately.

"Knock knock."
An olive branch for him.
"I said 'knock knock'."
The den is cracked.
I peer in.
The lamp is on.
Printer paper strewn across the floor.
His law books torn from the shelves.
Dad stands in a robe.

"I don't need the book.
I remember Uzumaki.
654 pages.
Hardcover.
Copright 2010.
I don't need Uzumaki.
Uzumaki is already inside me!"

We spend the day drawing spirals of smoke and weird and twisted snails as Dad tells me the unfortunate story of the town of Kurouzu-cho.
I've never read it but Dad's a good storyteller and even though it seems fucked up the talking helps us both.
Dad jokes about leaving the house to go raid the Borders downtown to find a copy.
I tell him I like our version.
"Plus the Borders closed like 15 years ago."
I have no idea if our version is accurate.
Who knows if we'll ever see another copy of Junji Ito's Uzumaki.
Who knows if we'll make it out of this.
All we have is what's leftover and whatever we make together from it.

Collin Knopp-Schwyn (they/them), newly laid off, is worrying about all the wrong things this week.

Kim Morales: "here (jay's version)", "here (queerantine version)"

here (jay’s version)

“Come, here”
Where is
here
“Where do
you
want
here, to be”

here is
where lips
lie,

here is the room
the metrics of which
were the width of
my stretched limbs
and the length
of a certain untruth

here is the enclosure
on the side of my skirt
on the back, digging
into my flesh
here is where
I need your help

here is where I live
with the wind,
neither
from the south
or from the north

here is a slick curse
here is a homeless house
here is a friction
of this
locked box of a body,
to hipless song,
well timed and certain.
here is where I curve,
here is where
I need you

here is where I return
to be trapped happily

here is wherever
I am with you,
here is a mountain
that I never saw the face of
and an ocean tide
that promised to pull me
here
here is the blackness
of a shore
I want to know

here is a moment,
it’s when I choose
you
over and over
again

here is where
you tell me
of the dissipation
of clouds,
I don’t understand.

here is where
you should --

Come, here
come
quickly
and
outside!
here is
where
chest
on chest
“I like that”-
hearts break-
ing out
of cavities
to, merely
glance?


here (queerantine version)

“Come, here”

Where is here?

“Where do
you
want
here, to be”

here is
where lips
lie,

here, the room
where
my sex and my music
have to happen
now

here is my copy
there, there

here, that corner
no, left.
further
left

here is the paint,
the cheap dresses
3 wigs...
here is all the time
to know
them to my body

here is where
we imagine --
mmm, actually
plan
how we will
harness the power
of the wind
neither
from the south
or from the north,

from all directions

here is a slick curse
here is a homeless house
made into a shelter
in place of some-
where bigger
warmer
closer

here,
please come
closer. here.

here is my number
here is a chance
to learn me

here is wherever
I am with you,

here is a moment,
it’s when we choose
us
over and over
again

here is where
the headache
hurts the worst

here is where
the air
doesn’t circulate

well
here is where
the chair goes now

here
I feel my body
needs
touch

here and here
and especially
here

here,
on the map!,
I wanted
to spend my summer
here

here
on this sill
At 3p
you can see
the sun

stand right
here
and
you may feel

here is where
you can see
Yourself on
the day
when we say

“Come, here
come
quickly
and
Outside!”

“I like that”-

hearts break-
ing out
of cavities
to, merely
glance?

Kim Morales is a chapinx-boricua poet/playwright, currently exploring drag, who lives in Brooklyn, New York. You can check out her current work with the immigrant-led theater group, F.U.N. Collective, on instagram: @hoesario_dawson and @f.u.n.collective, as well as their collaborative project “SPEAK/SPACE” with the newly formed collective Community Board 2020: @communityboard2020.

J.M. Paden: "The Ghosts of Fayette County Smoke Pall Malls on Sunday Morning"

The Ghosts of Fayette County Smoke Pall Malls on Sunday Morning

Daddy craved smoke from twenty-nine
years ago in the soft light of February

dip in the road, the earth inhaled slowly
as we sloped down between two hills

I had suspicions, small town testimonies
but never the words from his mouth

Daddy never told me he ran around
but I kind of had the idea

I never admitted to him when I liked a boy
though he must have seen it a yearning in my eyes

he scowled under parking lot lights
when schoolmates said hi in passing

I still feel my cheeks burn
when men speak to me within his earshot

a year after the smoke and hills and cool light
I crave wine I am aching

for something to numb
without spoiling my vessel without notice to anyone else

and in one more subtle, caressing way
I am just like my father

Jeanna Paden is a freelance writer and poet from Tennessee. To cope with these changing times, she’s taking care of her family, looking for freelance work, reading books, writing, and sending love and support to other artists.

Madeline Phillips: “Quarantine, Day Three.”, “A Scratch”, “Soap Haiku”

Quarantine, Day Three.

I wake up at 11:30 and take out my phone
to ask you what your favorite wood stains are,
then wonder if it’s finally time
to read The Yellow Wallpaper
or watch that episode
of The Twilight Zone where
the librarian breaks his glasses.

I drink seven cups of coffee,
laugh hysterically for fifteen minutes,
and eat a raw garlic clove.

I fall in love
with the late afternoon light
that licks my clit through the window,
but lament the dried flower petals
that now litter my sheets
from the fruitless hour
I spent trying to photograph my vulva.

My roommates discuss painting
the kitchen millennial pink
and I remember that Old Holland
makes a classic oil color called quinacridone gold.

I practice drawing hands
on the back of an envelope
marked, “return to sender”
and wish my skin still smelled like your mouth.

We are running low on groceries,
so we watch a chicken lay an egg on Youtube;
the feathered strains of the hen’s red behind
look familiar and faintly pornographic:
our eyes round in horror as a full moon crowns
and descends into the soiled hay.

I down one and a half glasses
of a buttery chardonnay
that smells like palo santo
or burning rubber and realize
I forgot to eat dinner.

Before bed, I pray
that the internet will crash
so that people will stop asking me how I am.

Maybe I will take a walk tomorrow.


A Scratch

There’s a scratch
on my left index finger –
you know, the one I wear
my crooked claddagh ring on.
I got it when we were walking
through the woods
the last time I saw you.
A stray branch drew blood
then,
but it’s just a faint white line
now;
I don’t want it to heal.


Soap Haiku

Stained calamine pink,
the sink remembers your hands
better than I do.

Madeline is an actress, fine art model, and poet based in NYC. Social Distancing is making her feel like she's living in a Chekhov play; she spends her days dancing (like, literally, and usually in her kitchen) on the threshold between hysterical laughter and tears.

Kayla Schwab: “working toward home.”

working toward home

my body is home when it knows when to stop, like
when i’m climbing to the top of my apartment stairs
and i put my key in the door without looking, or like
when i decide that i’ve done enough for today and
settle on staying in, letting my to-do list fade away.

my body is home when it knows when to go, like
when i’m fully asleep on the R train but the rumble
of my subconscious mind alerts me to jump up just
in time, or like when i’m in the company of poets
who push me to pause the world with my words.

my body is home when it knows it’s alone, like
when i’m walking in after a long day of work
and i kick off my shoes and unclasp my bra, or like
when i’m wandering around sunset park,
relying on gravity to deliver me my harbor.

my body is home when it knows i’m with you, like
when i’m resting my head in the valley between your
shoulder and your chest, warm as watching a sunrise,
or like when we’re laughing for laughter’s sake, drunk
off the preciousness of having each other to hold.

my body is home when my mind is away, like
when i’m filling a vacancy in space and time and
permitting myself to feel comfortable there, or like
when i get myself into a little trouble and, although
the stakes are low, still get to enjoy the thrill of it all.

Kayla Schwab is a Brooklyn-based poet who also dabbles in painting and playlist-curating. Outside of writing manuscripts for her advertising gig, Kayla has been baking lots of bread and doing yoga on her roof to keep her mind and body healthy during the quarantine.

Rachel Tanner: “And All of This, Too”, “Down the Road”

And All of This, Too

Who can write poetry when the world is ending?
"We gotta," you keep telling me.
"Who else will tell the stories
of what happened here?
Of the ways our bodies yearned for each other
in a hailstorm of boredom, grief, and fear?
Of the empty shelves? Of the rising waters?"

But you don't understand this deep underlying
nothing that I feel. This absolute lack.
You tell me to take a nap.

When the nap doesn't help,
you tell me to take a Valium. When the Valium
doesn't help, you tell me to take your hand.

"If you can't find hope, borrow mine," you say.
"There is enough comfort in me to
wrap you up, cocoon you for centuries."

But what I want is out here.
I want the world.

I just don't want the world as it is.
I don't want the same world that moves
me through it so slowly that
my small life being at a standstill
makes no difference to anyone else.

You tell me that everyone feels despair, that
right now, the world is more connected
in its loss than ever. But I don't want loss.
All I ever am is loss. All I ever do
is live quietly between disasters.

"I've been trying to fix things," you say,
"but you have to give it time."

You tell me the road is long but you've seen
what's waiting on the other side. You're
breaking down roadblocks as you go,
using the scraps to build community.

There's a blank page in my head
where the future should be and you are
slowly filling it in, color by color, line by line.

You are slowly filling me in,

color by color,
line by line.


Down the Road

I want us to climb into the backseat
over the center console because it’s
raining outside &
that’s not the kind of wet we’re
looking to get. I want us to cheers
with the cans of Grapico
that we brought from one of the
nine Publixes in town:
to life, to love, to fucking.
To fucking the love & the life
out of each other. To each othering
each other so deeply that
we forget each other’s names & pasts.
To finding pieces of our pasts
within each other’s yearning. To
yearning within the yawning
of this new path we’ve gone down.
To going down.
& down.
& down.

Rachel Tanner hasn't sent in a bio yet, but will soon.