nobody knows anyone in 2021

I’ve held onto this poem for awhile, but I feel like I want to release it while this is all still going on. (I even had to change the title from 2020 to 2021). I can’t say to enjoy, because pandemic poetry isn’t enjoyable. But, it is truthful. When I read the story of this man who had been sent home from the hospital because they weren’t sure if he had covid, and they had no beds available in the covid ward, I was devastated. It was the first thing that really hit me. None of the numbers felt as clear as the idea of a man dying on his apartment steps because the hospital — which had free beds in other wards — refused admission.

nobody knows anyone in 2021

nobody knows anyone 
who’s died until anyone does 
and nobody becomes silenced 
with grief and guilt

in death everybody becomes
numbers too large 
for nobody to comprehend

nobody understands the touch
of anyone’s hand 
(everybody hasn’t touched
in months)
nobody understands 
two million bodies
who can’t breathe 
or speak or live

there was a story 
of a single man 
a body with a name
the hospital wouldn’t admit 
they sent him home
he died on his doorstep 
leaning on his could-be-anybody daughter

he was human 
but became one
of everybody
a hundred a day
a nothing number 
in a denied pandemic 


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