“Dispatch from a Pandemic: Bowling Green, KY” by Tom Hunley


corona sam
Sam Schwindt


Love As The World Ends

‘A’: An honors student crams all night in case the test’s not canceled.

Bison stampeding are rendered invisible by frost on windshields.

Children unborn, names already chosen, painted on cribs, blue and pink smell of paint drying.

Dollars fall from the sky instead of rockets in our last dreams.

Everything done gets undone.

F: this.

Going, going, gonged.

Hungry for forgiveness, for another shot, for a last look from the bridge at the sparkling sun
skimming the scalloped waves.

Ill: Kids say “sick” but mean something else. Al Gore said the world has a fever.

Just us: sacks of skin that want to touch and be touched, that want and wont and need and knead,
sources of injustice, gathering places for goosebumps

Keep playing guitar. What song will you pick? You can’t
keep anything. But what if you could? What would you keep?

Like the simile, we’re going the way of the Liaoceratops.

Making love might make us forget that we’re about to explode
might be the last come-on.

Anyway, this feels like the ultimate ultimatum.

Optimists, even the end of the world isn’t the end of the world to you.

Poems are prayers that pop.

Cue the doomsday prophets, gleeful about finally being right.

Re-reading Rimbaud in a ragged voice sets the right mood for the day on fire.

Smoking: No reason not to start now.

There may not be there, depending on where we’re going.

Underwear: Wear a clean pair.

Valery called perfume the refuse of flowers. Now you know that.

We were totally lied to by that REM song.

Exes: At least you won’t bump into them in clubs any more.

Yesterday we said yes and yes and yet and yet.

Zoo: We were the animals. They shouldn’t have fed us.

–February 15, 2020


If This Next Apocalypse Gets Canceled Or Postponed

Oh Dear, can we busy ourselves trying to guess the words in a postcard sent by a pilot

to himself at his next destination?
Can we patent a method of trading places with our reflections in the mirror?
I want to prove that San Antonio is the receptionist’s desk at a summer resort for angels.
Let’s go to an unfamiliar city at night, and let’s get so hungry and tired that the squeaking

room service cart makes a music more beautiful than Brahms.
Let’s let the different words for yearning die on our tongues

as if they’ve just stung the different words for satisfied.
Can we find words for every feeling that our cleverness can’t comprehend,

every thought we can’t express when awake?
I want to prove that the plays attributed to Shakespeare were written in a creaking attic

by a manicurist whose second language was nail polish.
Can we live like somewhere in the future we sit, dazed and amazed, remembering

what we did today, wishing we could reach into the past to give ourselves a high five?
Let’s plot a way to die with the dignity of a snowman and the raccoon frozen inside its torso.
Let’s sleep with the window open, with the scent of lavender,

with the sound of rain stunning our restored hearts.
I want to prove that gray skies and rain were born when God finally did the dishes

and drained the sink after a hard night of making and unmaking.
Ah Love, let’s climb into this wreckage and let the night be a story that keeps dreaming itself,

a new beginning, a better middle, and in the end,
your name running just past my ability to say it.

–March 5, 2020

Tom Hunley is a professor in the MFA/BA Creative Writing programs at Western Kentucky University. He’s published poems in American Poetry Journal, Antietam Review, Apalachee Review, Asheville Poetry Review, Atlanta Review, Atticus Review, Anti-, Anti-Heroin Chic, and The American Journal of Poetry. Forthcoming from C&R Press in 2021 is What Feels Like Love: New and Selected Poems.