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Poetry in the Time of Corona


Recently, a small group of us gathered to hear Charles Coe perform poetry, exploring memory, life, and loss. Watch as Charles reads two of his original poems, “Love in the Time of Corona” and “Something in the Wind.”

(with apologies to Gabriel García Márquez)
by Charles Coe

In ancient Greece, men shook hands
as a demonstration of good faith
to show they weren’t armed.
In these days of fever and fear
we keep our distance, resist
the timeless call of flesh to flesh.
But the time will come again
to take the stranger’s hand
embrace a friend, share a kiss.

Until then our cries for human touch
are dispatches from separate
battlefields, tied to passenger pigeons
we release into the restless night.


by Charles Coe

A car waiting at the red light has a dog
with head stuck out the back window,
tongue hanging, snout twitching, beguiled
by some intriguing smell. The average dog nose
is a million times more sensitive than a human’s,
a bloodhound’s nose, a hundred million times.

This dog’s a mutt, not a bloodhound,
genetic fruit salad, a United Nations of Dog,
but it has a fine nose, and appears
unconcerned about its lack of pedigree,
focused rather on whatever it’s sniffing,
and it occurs to me there might not be
a more contented creature on the planet
than a dog with head stuck out a car window.

The light turns green, the dog moves on to new
olfactory adventures, and I wonder what it
smelled here what it smelled that I could never detect
with this feeble human nose even if that nose
weren’t covered by this mask I’m hoping
will protect me from something in the wind
I can neither see nor smell.


How do you find comfort in a crisis?

Charles is a poet, prose writer, teacher of writing and a musician (vocals and didgeridoo). Born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, he has lived in the Boston area since 1975. After eighteen years, he retired in the spring of 2015 from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the state agency that funds arts and culture, and now spends his time writing, teaching writing, and making music.



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