• Mad Gleam Press

Lines About the Quarantine without all that Pesky Quarantine, by Jason R. Gallagher-Guerrero

Updated: Dec 6, 2020

They are not here yet, by Claire D.G.

Quarantine Lines about a Line during Quarantine

I swear if this gets finished

This will be the best poem that I write during


Why? Because I

Didn't start out to write a poem about quarantine,

Like so much poetry,

It is a joke.

My wife and I are waiting outside

The Social Security Office in Inwood, Manhattan,

In late March,

Planning to flee the island, which thinks it is a nation unto itself.

An unhomed person, a

Homeless man approaches.

He looks skeptically at the line.

The man wears a N95 mask during the time when

To do such was selfish.

He smells of feet and meat and

Coughs in my wife's general direction.

He seems to want to move on, but

He turns to us and speaks.

“Some of these assholes,

They don't understand that the world has

Passed 'em by. Has left 'em with

A vision of the Upper West Side

Where they still matter. They

Don't. Nobody does. You stand there.

Online. For the Social Security Office.

More like

Social Insecurity.”

A smile breaks through his cracking lips.

“I've been saving that one

For years.”

To the Earl Grey Tea Guy as You are Exiting the M100 Bus Somewhere in Washington Heights, October 26, 2018, 6:45 P.M.

I speed through the streets of Harlem.

Not really speeding. I

Am at the mercy of the M100

Bus as it pokes through

Rush hour.

I feel defeated. By the weather,

An oncoming Nor'easter. By a lackluster

Job interview. A guy

Slithers onto the bus from the 125th

Street Whole Foods with a bag of

Goodies for “Mommy” and an in-

Sulated cup. I hate him on site.

Being Latino doesn’t mean

He isn’t a bougie piece of shit.

When I say bougie, I mean bougie.

Middle-class. Spending money at a Whole Foods

In the neighborhood build on black sweat and toil so

I, and everyone on the bus, can look

At the yum yums you’re taking home to your two point five

Kiddies. It makes me hate you.

When you sit next to me,

And you spill Earl Grey (I can smell the Earl Grey),

From that insulated thermos, all

Over the pants I just got dry-cleaned for the interview.

I hate you more.

At least I've stopped hating myself.

Manufactured Japanese Heartbreak

Look at that pair of green clay pots over there.

They came from Margo, who fired

Them in a kiln on campus, before things went to shit.

The sounds of silver still clang in your ears, as the billows of the angry god blows down

the last remaining butte.

On the other end of campus, a principal repeals the dress code and your colleague, Bill,

finds himself overdressed.

Bill was temperate unlike, Phil Berg, who cried out into the dark claiming ownership,


Yet, all he had were a pair of green clay pots

The kisses of today feel like years ago, and

You think back to the hills as if they were as tall as mountains.

Phil's pots are labeled,



Jason R. Gallagher-Guerrero was a contributing editor at Evergreen Review. He is a member of The Unbearables poetry collective and has had work appear in The Otter as well as in the Kind of a Hurricane Press anthologies, The Seasons and Storm Cycle; the first two issues of POST[blank]; The Pangolin Review; A Gathering of the Tribes; The Santa Clara Review; and South Florida Poetry Journal. He has also had his book reviews published in Sensitive Skin, Gainsayer, and The Otter. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with his wife, fellow poet Brendaliz Guerrero, and works as an adjunct English instructor at Maryville University while attending the Masters of Fine Art in Creative Writing program at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

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