Costume Parties by Fiat?

by Julian Woodruff

‘Round nearly vacant lots
The cars grow fewer still.
No traffic tied in knots,
No malls in which to mill.
The numbers in the market
Are smaller day by day.
The orders are to park it,
Camped at our homes to stay.
More people that I see
Are wearing masks and gloves;
I wonder, next shall we
All be in surgeons’ scrubs?
I trust we’re not despairing,
Bound to some fuzzy lie,
And should tee-shirts be wearing
Silk-screened, “Live free and die!”




Poet’s Note: Until yesterday, my friend and neighbor, a retired nurse, had not been wearing a mask. When I saw her masked this morning and asked her what changed, she told me that she “felt like a pariah” for not wearing one. Conversely my wife, entering the lobby of the Time-Warner Building, was approached by the security guard who said to her “You’re not wearing a mask—you must have Faith.”

by Joe Tessitore

They’ve scared me to death!
I’m afraid to draw breath
and I’m wearing a mask
so that no one will ask.

I shelter in place
and I don’t touch my face
and I do wash my hands
when The Doctor commands

‘cause I wanna grow old
so I do what I’m told
as I ride the death spiral …
a virus gone viral.

I’ve run out of nerve—
can I flatten a curve?




April 7, 2020

by Raymond Gallucci

Death toll climbing, stocks subliming—
It’s Coronavirus world.
Faithful praying, most are staying
Home with hoards already squirreled.

Forecasts dooming, end-times looming—
Can’t see past the current week.
Like Titanic – time to panic.
Desperately vaccine all seek.

“Curve must flatten in Manhattan—
Cancel 2020 Spring!”
Venture nowhere, four walls you stare
At in endless lingering.

Think you’re coping, even hoping?
Raven utters “Nevermore!”
Edgar Allan Poe’s your pal when
Crossing Styx to Pluto’s shore.




by Russel Winick

Yesterday was turbulent
All factions on attack.
It really was deplorable
And God—I want it back!




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15 Responses

  1. Julian D. Woodruff

    Nos. 2-4 are clever, especially Mr. Gallucci’s. But whose is no. 2–not mine!

  2. Monty

    Good idea for a verse, Russel: and a subtle way to approach the current climate. But it raises a pertinent thought . . that no matter how bad things were before, we’d rather have that than this. Of course we would. Your concept could also, potentially, lead us to realise how we might’ve been previously taking some things for granted: individually and collectively. And we might value certain things more than we did once we get them back.

    As Joni Mitchell told us: ‘You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’.

  3. Joseph S. Salemi

    Dear Joe Tessitore —

    I liked your poem about masks. Just about a week ago I entered my corner delicatessen to buy some sandwiches and beer. The place was fairly crowded, since it was near lunchtime, and the place is actually quite small. Nobody had a mask on. We were all just laughing and talking as we waited for our sandwiches to be made.

    All of a sudden some arrogant millennial jerk walked in with a mask on, and started loudly berating every one there, but especially the Arab deli owner, protesting that we were irresponsible lawbreakers and that we should all be fined. He went one and on — as over-entitled liberal schmucks tend to do — until finally the Arab store-owner screamed “Get out of my place! Who do you think you are? When God wants you to die you will die, and your stupid mask won’t save you!” Then he came from behind the counter, grabbed the little creep, and physically threw him out of the deli. The millennial schmuck landed on his ass, and started whimpering.

    We all cheered! If more of us showed the courage of that tough Arab store-keeper, this governmental tyranny of health-freaks wouldn’t be choking our economy to death.

    • Joe Tessitore

      Thank you, Joseph, and a true Brooklyn story if I ever heard one.

      If things ever get back to normal and if it’s possible, I’d like to audit one of your classes, if you think one would be appropriate for me.
      Let me know what you think.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Thanks, Joe. Right now because of this Wuhan flu virus I’m teaching my six classes on-line, and it is a maddening waste of time. But if the colleges ever get back to normal face-to-face lectures, you are certainly welcome to come and sit in.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Dr. Salemi, this delicatessen/mask story is highly amusing yet so utterly hard-hitting in the message it conveys. When the cure is more deadly than the disease, something’s gone very, very wrong. This puts me in mind of the climate change “catastrophe” and the outrageous exploitation of those hard working tax payers finding it increasingly difficult to pay their fuel bills in the name of saving the planet. It’s all very worrying, indeed.

    • Sally Cook

      wonderful story, Joe. this Wuhan event has had both good and bad results.
      Good: foolish obsessions are being ignored. Independent people are being forced to look reality in the face; to make their own decisions.
      Bad: .Confusion reigns. People are trusting authority less and less, .yet .are more and
      confused Not good, any of it.

  4. Margaret Coats

    Joe and Joseph, “Verses” and stories much appreciated. Many thanks as well to whoever found the appropriate illustration.

  5. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    I believe humor plays a huge role in alleviating the stress of difficult times and this set of poems plays a wonderful part. I especially like Joe Tessitore’s poetic take on the masks (it definitely hit a nerve with me) and Russel Winick’s Yesterday – how very, very true.

    • Russel Winick

      Thank you Susan. It’s amazing how much this has reoriented peoples’ thinking.

  6. Monty

    I’m not at all one for statistics, and I don’t know who John Hopkins Universe ty are: but according to them, 6,000 New Yorkers have died in the last 10 days. One can only wonder if anyone caught the virus during their bout of laughter in the above-mentioned Deli, and either subsequently died, or later passed it on to someone who did die.

    Highly improbable, I hear you say: and I agree entirely, it IS highly improbable . . but not impossible.

    And yet, how boastfully, how gleefully – how proudly even – the bullied-one projected the Deli episode.

  7. Monty

    I’m not at all one for statistics, and I don’t know who John Hopkins University are: but according to them, 6,000 New Yorkers have died in the last 10 days.

    We’ll never know for sure, but one can’t help wondering if anyone caught the virus during the collective bout of laughter described at the above-mentioned Deli; and either subsequently joined the 6,000, or later passed it on to someone else who eventually joined the 6,000.

    Highly improbable, I hear you cry, and I agree entirely: it’s highly improbable . . but not impossible.

    And yet.. how boastfully, how gleefully – how proudly, even – the bullied-one related the tale.


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