“Everything breaks down. During a season of harms, / every disaster looks premeditated. You imagine things.”
31 March 2022
You discover everything around you is falling apart and breaking down. And then, so are you.
It was an especially bad day during the first year of the global pandemic.
Being in lockdown at home alone wasn’t so bad, but constant panic about the virus; fear for family, friends, and everyone; and the ongoing adjustment to these big changes in our lives left me with little motivation or creativity. I didn’t write much that first year, but when I did, I was able to pour some of my fears out onto the page.
During the summer of 2020, the chaos of the world outside my door seemed to seep into my studio apartment in the most physical and personally frustrating ways. A bookshelf broke during the night, and the next morning I found it leaning precariously, threatening to spill all my books. My laptop was swelling (turns out it was the battery.) Pens dried up almost immediately on the rare occasions I found myself writing. Then there came a July day when I realized most of my clothes were old and full of holes, everything else I touched seemed to fall apart, repairs were needed, and I was completely unprepared to deal with any of it. In a small notebook where I had been writing down poetry fragments, I started listing everything going wrong in my apartment.
That was the start of a poem. I kept adding to it over the next year. I took the experience of things breaking down and falling apart in my apartment and expanded it into a house where there were even more things that could go wrong. Everything already felt apocalyptic, so I added an Apocalypse to my poem, but I was beginning to understand that a global Apocalypse, whatever the cause, will take place not just on a grand scale as depicted by special effects in disaster movies, but in all of our homes and personal spaces. It might creep painfully and slowly at first, like the early days and weeks of a pandemic. For billions of humans, perhaps billions and billions of life forms on Earth, an Apocalypse will be a personal apocalypse. So I added in vegetables and meat. Dreams. Identity. A gas leak. A Latin infinitive. Various monsters. The reckoning of it all. This wasn’t just about me, but also about you. About all of us.
I hope we never have to find out just how bad it can get. How final.