WALKING IN THE DAYS OF THE VIRUS #3

WALKING IN THE DAYS OF THE VIRUS
(#3 Coughing in the street)

Another plane whining above
as I step out the door
Another aluminium winged horse 
ridden by the Virus
coronising the continents
flight by flight
Will the sun ever set
on this molecular empire

FUN FACT! 
Around 50% of the air 
in aircraft ventilation systems
is recirculated

To fly is to walk the plank
blindfolded
arms tied
but hands still free
to pull others down with you 

The very same plane from Brussels to Malta
not taken by my elder sister
(thanks to teleconferencing)
turned a young healthcare worker
into an invisible blade 
Meanwhile a certain minister
who proposed citizenship for robots
dares to speak of deportations

This nightwalk will be a long one
Try your best not to break
into a vociferous trot

Music in the ears again
A new Maltese album
No singing this time
Don’t know the lyrics anyhow
Keep the volume low
so you can listen out for sirens
especially whenever you stop
to bring out this notebook
They might think you’re jotting down
car number plates
or addresses of empty homes

As I walk past the cemetery gate
a cat! A black cat!
The second cat I’ve seen in this street
in two whole years
Pejxa, pejxxx, pxx-pxx-pxx-pxx
The cat sprints towards me
rubs against my leg
rolls over so I can stroke his belly
all in the space of five seconds
Pejxa, mhux se mmissek
I won’t touch you
much as I’d like to
but tell me, what did it take
for them to let you out?

At the end of the street
an empty bus waits for no one
In the ears
“Ħallik mit-tgħanniq” 
Forget about hugging 
Good timing Marju
good timing

An oncoming couple
Do I shift to the left
or to the right
Left it is
The feet decided before the mind
A quick doff of the hat
yet again unanswered

They did look concerned, but still
I do not want to perish in this country
Of all the places I could have been locked down in
LËTZEBUERG
Perfect for social distancing
but little point in being relatively safe
if my heart is in another time zone
Were I to drive towards London
would there be roadblocks
would they let me through
is the tunnel still open
Twan, forget it
13 flights in two months
The hugs can wait

Rue des Trèves, uphill
The chewing gum on the back of my tongue
makes me cough inadvertently
Two young men ahead of me
freeze then change direction
… … 
… … 

Passing a block of flats
the automatic light at the entrance
makes me jump and cover my eyes
… … 
… …  

I might start swearing soon
Maybe a bit of sticker hunting 
will calm me down

JIDDER 
    STROOSS 
AS ENG 
    D  N  P  S 
      A  Z  I  T

Every street is a dance floor
Too right
especially now
I can air jam like a fool
from pavement to pavement
as freely as ever

TAX-REFUGEES
WELCOME

Entering rue Auguste Lumière
fourteen years 
and a few heartbreaks later

HORDA
ULTRAS METZ - TRiBUNE EST
How bored they must be these days

Number 12, second floor
The first flat I lived in
when I came to sell my soul 
for food and books
Weekends of poetry,
music, roll-ups
with the windows open wide
to hear the late summer thunder
Alex, u dik il-mixja?
Kevin, agħmilha vjola

Police HQ round the corner
The closer I get
the more I need to clear my throat

A sticker of a flamingo head
and a speech bubble:
“Stay low” 
Yes, yes
Do not fly
When outside don’t be too visible
and whatever you do
do not cough

(Double-checking
to make sure this sticker isn’t an advert -
there will be no product placement
in these notebooks)

In the ears again
“Agħfasni għax risposta m’għandix”
Hold me tight for I have no answers
Breathe in
Breathe out

Rounding the corner
the tickle in the throat 
now a prickly pear
Fuck it
If coughing is an act of defiance
here goes
Bang in the middle of the road
no traffic to be heard
Qħħmm qħħmm 
Qħħħmm qħħħmm qħħħmmm

I haven’t been this scared to cough
since the age of 8
hiding behind the christmas tree 
right before my parents 
broke up with a bang
a thousand bangs
I stare into the asphalt
One last cough
Qħħħħmmmm
Thank goodness I’m far from them now
Thank goodness I’m far from them now

Throat now clear
Twan, let’s go inside
there’s still soup left from yesterday
and you could really do with a drink

Downhill now
air drumming all the way
till the end of the album

"Hemm bżonn nieqaf nhewden
inħoll l-għoqda fi griżmejja”
I need to stop ruminating
and untie the knot in my throat
Iva, iva, iva
Yes, yes, yes

A yellow lichen heart 
on the bark of a tree
Two in fact
Guess who I’m sending them to

Another lichen heart
about 50 metres down the street
My eyes have been honed to this skill
for four years now
Aaah to go heart-hunting together
along the River Lea
or on the island of Vir

Back in my street
Past the cemetery gate
Out come the earphones
Suddenly I realise how loud my steps are
how strident the keys in my hand
yet my breath 
is no heavier than usual

--- 

#timezones #walking #covid19

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