Statement of Record

Poems in Times of Corona


Poems in Times of Corona


Scott Martingell

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

I’m definitely getting tracked and docile
But random celebrities
Reminding me I’m home
Is not my idea of soma.  

Systemic response
Is kicking in amongst the primates
Creating new vectors
Of chronic frustration, chains of volcanoes at home.  

I’m hustling for work
Trying not to avoid
The noticeable shuffle
As e-learning packages survey the kids.

I need to get on the screen
See if a meme’s turned up
Sharpen those pencils
And color-code my plastic bags.

Friday, April 3, 2020

The ones who’re resilient, I’ve only now realized
(of course) are the alkie sociophobes
the OCD-ers hoovering their places 
just above your ceiling at night.

It’s not a great change
if you work from home
and don’t equate life with movement.

We’re not seeing a great deal new
in terms of the day-to-day;
maybe a few writers starting to squirm

as they come to terms
with their cul-de-sac of ironic distance.
No place to hide, now—ha.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

My no doubt selfless striving
To keep the Italian vintners above water
(like a Saint Mark’s Square trattoria
As a docking-denied cruise ship
Pulls away with its skeleton crew
To try her luck in Istria)

Is becoming more frayed by the day.
Hospitals of nightingales
Sing thee to thy rest
Scan the shelves for sewing kits
(like we need more needles at the end of the day).
I’m training my vast unusable lens
On keeping alcohol away from the front end of the week.

And a deputy PM, blinking like a raven,
Addresses a shrink-wrapped mike,
Saying “We” when he means “I. . .”

I hope, Dear Leader, you regain some measure
Of bonhomie when this has passed.
Perhaps there’ll be some comfort to be had,
Even by Scots, from buffoonery.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Who’s this slapdash that did anglistik and wants the gig?
I’m gonna translate what the flick I want
And if you can’t be bothered to fossick around for synonyms
Why should I?

You’re just shouting in another room
I can hear you going through your travails
Cutting your toenails

While I’m a camp follower of Heidi Klum’s cohort
Measuring out the weeks with “Leider. . .”
Maintaining insignificance in the light of key workers

Resisting the urge to feel heroic
(the woman below with her windows unopened
and her boys somewhere, silent, unheard)

But what can I say?
There’s kids here, shouting, and adults, 
Working their passage through isolate grief.

I. Friday, April 10, 2020

Well, that industry’s gone and this one’s on its knees
And cruise ships for a generation and this thing’s written like dreams
Hitchhikers on the hard shoulder for hours
And people in porn can’t even rub shoulders
Street magicians are repurposing tricks
And Zoom masseurs are nudging out online shiatsu.
The trick to get out of Moria is to be under twelve and alone
While I stay paid, translating Negotiationsprozessen as negotiations,
Chasing up refunds and e-funds.
This is how I write when the news is on
Glancing across at Goya.
I’m an analogue age that remembers
The time before archive footage was slowed 

II. Tuesday, April 14, 2020 

B-listers are telling me the world is round
And I should keep my distance (would that I could)
From Trump going postal.
If you can’t say anything that’s not on the news—
No Kuhnian comments, slicing the cake elsewise,
Citing The Ambassadors’ stretched-out skull
As reasons for a certain ambivalent stance
Towards the expert with a nice line in testing—
Then hold your noise; I’m just scoping your bookshelves.
Your spines are mine to judge, you muppets.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Wouldn’t it be slick if oil were useless
And the Newcastle takeover never took place?
Sovereign wealth funds grounded the world over
Fleets of consultants suddenly stuck.

We’re going thru that age-old editing process—internal combustion,
Soft-power sheiks rethinking the execution of minors,
Oligarchs with nowhere to shop,
Going the way of adverbs in a first draft.

That thing Apollo 13 landed on
Taking her red pen to us.
Meanwhile, the park’s getting battered
The grass can’t take us—over-use.

The dogs are rolling around, and the days;
That’s why I’m coughing
My morning chats with the birds 
Are bringing me home dust-ridden
The backs of my hands caked and cracking  

It’s not so much the soap but the epidermal erosion
That makes me wish I could bleed for key workers
Whose hands-on, proactive, charlatan government
Masks its failings and waits on paperwork.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

There’s no connection—or none I see—
That links the cold fact of solitude
(As it wells up in your bones)
With the actuality of others.  

I have graphs to prove this.
Some show intersections, areas of common touch;
A few are shaded where variables bleed.
In some, a hint of contour
Delineates the prevailing mood.  

There are swings and tendencies
And, beyond the line of the farthest axis,
Shapes emerge, and discerning eyes.  

I hope I haven’t bogged you down
In overly technical explanation
But we should definitely prepare for parabolas.
The experts are all of a mind on this.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Like a fool, I ticked “non-perforated”
For my V for Vendetta Amazon mask.
Hyperventilation’s a luxury,
I think, as I join the basket queue.  

Luckily, my phone can tell me exactly
Where the May Day parades will be trending this year.
Maybe you’ll see it as progress
When the airport closes
And you don’t have to get up at four
To serve red-eye coffee to strangers.  

I need a bailout
But not half as much as these reps
Whose job it was to release energy
From all that sunlight tucked into trees
Millions of years ago.  

I need to bail out
From these half-suited, pencil-skirt dæmons
Buffering in front of their bookshelves (I’ve got my eye on your spines)
A bike going nowhere in your background.  

So here’s to the grandparents freed from the burden 
Of having to take care of our brats.
A long line of rusting 737s
And the echolocation of bats. 

About the author

MC Jabber (Scott Martingell) was born in South London in 1966. He performs as a singer and poet and won the first UK National Poetry Slam in 1995, the first Glastonbury Festival Poetry Slam in 1996, and the International SLAM! Revue in 2006. From 1999 to 2008 he was a vocalist in the Danish band Blue Foundation, with tracks featured on “Miami Vice” and the Billboard #1, Grammy-nominated soundtrack to “Twilight.” He lives in Berlin. To see a YouTube video of MC Jabber go to Mad Speed Rap.

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