Photography © Jennifer Matthews

Existential Crisis in Quarantine

It’s early morning, before the sun licks the window’s ear,
while the dog snores at the foot of the bed, and I’m snapped

awake by a strange and daunting dream that disappears
like a foreign word as soon as I stand up and squint to read

the world’s last clock radio on the bed stand beside my glasses.
In the bathroom, I turn on the light to piss and notice

myself shirtless in the mirror and rub my eyes and ask,
Who the fuck are you? for the fifth time since eating dinner.

It seems that quarantine breeds with the existential crisis
like teenagers on a basement couch, Netflix streaming.

I stare back at my body, shed of its clothing, flabby and pale
and middle-aged misshapen, molded from years of beers.

But lately I’ve been laying off the alcohol and waking up
before noon and practicing yoga and meditation with my wife

and rereading the classic novels that I skimmed in college
so I can stop spewing borrowed nonsense about Nabokov.

Still, as I stare at my face, my heart pounds and breath quickens
as the birds in the bushes outside start their morning coffee.

I want to run from this man who is almost smirking at me
then realize there’s no need to hide when nobody sees you.

Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester, New Hampshire, with my wife and kids. He has published eight books of poetry and fiction. His next book, a novella titled Fly Like the Seagull, will be published in the fall of 2020.

Poet/Photographer Jennifer Matthews’ poetry has been published in Nepal by Pen Himalaya and locally by the Wilderness Retreat Writers Organization, Midway Journal, The Somerville Times, Ibbetson Street Press and Boston Girl Guide. Jennifer was nominated for a poetry award by the Cambridge Arts Council for her book of Poetry Fairy Tales and Misdemeanors. Her songs have been released nationally and internationally and her photography has been used as covers for a number of Ibbetson Street Press poetry books and has been exhibited at The Middle East Restaurant, 1369 Coffeehouses, Sound Bites Restaurant in Somerville and McLean Hospital.