As shelter-in-place orders continue and we remain holed up in our homes, I originally drafted the prose-poem, “The Daily,” which for some of you who follow my Instagram account, I posted there along with other quarantine poems. After looking at the contemplative work of artists facing similar shelter-in-place orders in their respective countries, the work of acclaimed Philippine-based Brazilian artist, Ciane Xavier, popped up in my feed with her most recent work, “All Is A Lie,” a stunning visual response to our current pandemic.
When I originally drafted “The Daily,” I had the unintelligent White House dolt and his administration in mind (if it wasn’t already made clear by my very poetic cues), but when I viewed Ciane’s most recent work, I thought what an intriguing pairing it would make to my prose-poem, and so I reached out to her for permission.
One of the many layers behind Ciane’s piece that strikes me is her representation of the rich and glamorous who can flaunt their privilege, masking themselves from the general public’s plight during this pandemic. It’s no secret and has been made very clear to us through various news outlets that celebrities, professional athletes, and billionaires are able to access the tests so easily whether they are asymptomatic or not, while the rest of us are denied testing despite showing obvious symptoms, and are instead told that “there are only a limited number of tests available” and we do not fit into the “federal protocol.” I have no words to express my rage at the class disparity on who can access the tests and who cannot. While none of us are invincible to this virus, Ciane’s piece seems to display a powerful critique of the wealthy and privileged, as if they can stand naked in all their glory while the rest of us only have masks that are flimsy in comparison to what the privileged can afford.
For more information about Ciane Xavier, please visit her page in the Featured Artists section.
There are men / in the highest seats / who value the flow / of money / more than / the hands / that make / the money flow.
They care / little for the dream(er)s / keeping / this country / afloat.
We try to keep busy—make breakfast lunch dinner bake cookies feed the cat feed the tortoise walk the dog scrub the toilet disinfect the doorknobs do laundry mop the kitchen floor binge-watch Netflix for 6 hours homeschool the children
double-income households suddenly become (n)one and sleep becomes insomnia as families worry about mortgage rent utilities and their aging folks whom they are not allowed to see.
It is hard to understand / powerful men whose / absolute hunger for money / absolutely blinds them / They stroke their egos by / giving away a week’s worth / of free toilet paper /
as if that will
save us for next week’s sunrise while screaming at the television does no good for some of us who have a 100.3 temperature sore throat dry cough and aches but are turned away from testing because our symptoms don’t fall within federal protocol so we set up our little corner some of us doomed to be found collapsed on the floor as if it is all our fault while a loved one holds us sobbing and we do not wake.
We are stacked / like dominoes / down to the very / respiratory cell / hijacked / while this virus / multitasks / its destruction / with men / in the highest seats / who encourage / its path(ogen) and / prefer to dig / into our shallow pockets / than their own / deep pockets / for the cure.
I provide no answers / only that we hold / each other / in mind / each day / while the world holds us / in its breath.