Bio Note: Although I’m a homebody and a hermit, this time of isolation seems both endless and delicious. I’ve used this great pause to write more and to read books again, as well as submit more of my work. My poetry has appeared in Slipstream, Italian Americana, Prairie Schooner, Poet Lore, and The Nation. I live in rural central Virginia in the woods, alone. I’m still baking bread.
Silly Shopping on eBay
Balm for anxiety, we’re shopping online buying essentials like coffee and chocolate, wine and brandy for those who still drink. Booze sales boom during the threat of Covid19 as it presses against a shortage of masks. I won’t be buying troll dolls with succulents growing out of their heads, or vintage Barbies in their original box and clothes for seven thousand dollars. No tall platform sandals for me, no exfoliating scrub, or off-the-shoulder blouses— already passé. I don’t need home hair dye kits or articles on how to pass the time during the quarantine. I’m grateful not to be married to Pence or Falwell or Bundy, or the gun and ammo collectors I once knew. My days are full, hours too few. Like other quilters with a ginormous stash, I find large scraps for sewing masks and make them reversible. I’d add some silly beads or buttons, beards of ribbons. But no bling. Extra texture might offer Coronavirus another way to cling. No embroidered leaves and daisies like those on jeans in the sixties, no childish charms will dangle. I could make bread and rolls shaped like genitalia, cookies iced with bawdy words to bake my rage at feeling helpless. But I’m still on a healthy track, won’t gain back pounds I shed. When I come out of the world of dread, you won’t recognize this thin and sober, pale and mindful me in my snazzy veil.
Originally published in North of Oxford, April 2020
What are you drinking?
Set wide the window. Let me drink the day. —Edith Wharton In sobriety, I’m fasting, having long given up White Russians and Long Island Iced Tea, able to say, No, thank you to a spiked Bloody Mary on a Sunday morning, no to Chianti with ravioli. I confess the cravings carry on, especially alone when thunder tumbles over my house and rain pours down. Thirty years without a jug of Gallo, without the easing, warm sensation when ethanol releases my rigid shoulders. Now I start my days with black coffee, no sweeteners, no cream or milk, then switch to green or black tea after noon. No additives. All the water I care to drink, clean and unlimited from my kitchen faucet—oh, luxury. I’m drinking to my wide bed with clean sheets and quilts, to central heat and air-conditioning, to secure and solid shelter for two cats and me, to All-Clad cookware and a deep freezer, to shelves of canned tuna and artichoke hearts, to black beans and brown rice. Alone for weeks, I’m drinking in my days, guzzling weeks and months of quiet solitude, gulping the scent of spring and earth, fertile after rain. No one tells me how I’m wrong. I savor isolation’s flavor, love this reclusive life with the fragrance of cornbread and rising sourdough, sober and alert to my mind’s channels, mining unseen gold.
Originally published in Beltway Poetry Quarterly—Art In Times of Crises, 2020
Having It Out With Worry
My patience is at an end for listening to your tirades about your every ache and twinge. I can’t attend to another litany of symptoms, the date and time of each twitch in dreams. You wake me more often than the cats, hold me tangled in the sheets and then send me back to bed by midday with exhaustion. You are a painful rash, fleas and ticks, algae growing in the drain, fruit flies breeding in the cat litter, the expiration date on cans of tuna and black beans. Just when I feel I have everything under control, the laundry folded and put away, you deliver a letter from the IRS and knock on my door with a voice that says, Police. I’ve had enough of you throwing puzzles off the table, your sowing seeds of deadly weeds. If you’re going to plant anxiety, come up with a plan of action, a solution. Tell me where to send a letter. I’ll step up to make posters, sign petitions. Worry, you achieve nothing but paralysis. Look! I’m off my ass. Get lost before I raise my fists.
Originally published in Feels Zine, November 2020
©2021 Joan Mazza
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