For Mature Audiences
I published apocalypse MMXX in real time as a serialized collection of “Apocalypse Diaries” chronicling the day-to-day madness of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fusing memoir, poetry, music, and art, I tried to weave a 21st-century epic about Suffering, the collective human condition.
These are the entries from the spring of 2020, with the original audio recordings included. Perhaps I’ll share the rest with you someday.
This is the beginning.
Selections from apocalypse MMXX
The Apocalypse Diaries
from Day One: Friday, March 13, 2020
Today is Friday, March 13, 2020, and my, what a day for words.
In times of distress, I have often found solace in words. Words got me through my childhood (إِذ قالَ يوسُفُ لِأَبيهِ يا أَبَتِ), through early adolescence (wake up in the morning and I ask myself / Is life worth living should I blast myself?), through later adolescence (…vanity of vanities; all is vanity), through my early twenties (To be, or not to be, that is the question), through my late twenties (I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness), and through the countless crises of my days.
Writing and reading them, seeing and hearing them, words express the thoughts and feelings that I taste and smell, but cannot touch. Those jingling in the back of the throat, sizzling behind the nose, tickling the ear and siphoning the colon, cranking the knees and walloping in the pit of the gut. Words paint and sing the sirens of our souls.
“This day will live in infamy,” for example. It’s been a long time since we’ve needed those words. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” is another good set. “.إِنَّ مَعَ العُسرِ يُسرًا” “Pale blue dot.” “All the world’s a stage.” Those too.
Words remind us that we have each other, if nothing else. That we are not alone. That we are not the first or the last. That this is all one coursing continuum of being with arcs and dips and bruises and bumps along the way, and we have only to ride the wave until its very end.
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from Day Six: March 18, 2020
I love you, Mama. I love you, Baba. I love you, siblings. I love you, cousins. I love you, uncle and auntie.
I love you, Ice. I love you, E. I love you, Wes. I love you, Z. I love you all, my friends my neighbors my colleagues my children my countrymen.
I love you, Bugs Bunny. I love you, Barney the Dinosaur. I love you, Mickey Mouse. I love you, Corduroy. I love you, Curious George.
I love you, Bill Shakespeare. I love you, Jack Kerouac. I love you, Chuck Bukowski. I love you, Jim Baldwin. I love you, Walt Whitman. I love you John Coltrane Jim Morrison 2Pac Ludwig Kubrick.
I love you, coffee. I love you, pizza. I love you, chocolate. I love you, Kilwins Tracks. I love you, Frosted Flakes.
I love you, America. I love you, Chicago. I love you, San Francisco. I love you, Costa Rica. I love you love you love you, Detroit, you piece of shit.
I love you, Astro. I love you, Fordson. I love you, Target. I love you, Barnes and Noble. I love you, DIA.
I love you, ocean. I love you, sun. I love you water I love you waves. I love you tulips I love you grass I love you tree you wind you cloud you rain.
I love heels. I love hips. I love panties I love tits. I love lace I love leather I love red I love leopard I love eyes and noses legs and asses lips and lashes smiles skin and hair.
Baby, I love the tiger in your eye. I love your hair in my soup. I love the frog in your chuckle, your lipstick on my collar, your scent on my sleeve, your dimples your warts your stretchmarks your scars your chubby knees. I love your snores. I love your fire and brimstone.
I love you, Allah. Just love us back.
from Day Three: March 15, 2020
Here’s something we’ve much forgotten in the course of our human plume: if you don’t know something, then shut the fuck up. And if you do know something, and nobody asked you, then still shut the fuck up. And since you don’t know anything, but only think you know something, then generally keep your fucking mouth shut. The venom spurting out the front of your head is a bludgeoning harm to you and those around you. Silence is golden. Shut your face.
If we’ve learned nothing else from the madness of these days, let’s at least agree on this: Facts matter. Expertise matters. Experience matters. Education matters. Intelligence matters. Truth matters. Government matters. The good folks in public service show out to save our kids, and the corporate swine dissemble in terror without a buck or a barf to save you from your doom, while the advertising vermin count our cash and cackle at our chaos and fear. Honor the nurses! Honor the doctors! Honor the cashiers! Honor the postmen! Idiots to the right of them! Idiots to the left of them! Death in front of them! Still they go on. And fuck the media! Fuck insurance! Fuck the corporate swine! Fuck the advertising vermin! Fuck fear and trembling fear and loathing fuck algorithm and machine! We’re taking back our souls!
The blood of hysteria is on your hands. The blood of truth is on your hands. The blood of democracy is on your hands. The blood of the sick and hungry is on your hands. The blood of anxiety-ridden value-famished drug-addicted children is on your hands. The blood of face masks and toilet paper and sanitizer is on your hands. You’ve cried wolf at our expense for the last time. And when we come out of this alive, we’re coming for you bastards.
Day One: March 13, 2020
إِذ قالَ … أَبَتِ “When Yusuf said to his father, ‘O Father…’” The Quran 12:4. wake up in…myself “Changes” by 2Pac. …vanity of vanities The Bible KJV Ecclesiastes 1:2. To be…to be Hamlet 3.1. I saw the best…madness Howl by Allen Ginsberg. This day…infamy Franklin D. Roosevelt, New York. December 8, 1941. The only thing…itself Franklin D. Roosevelt’s First Inaugural Address. March 4, 1933. …إِنَّ مَعَ العُسرِ “Indeed ease accompanies hardship.” The Quran 94:5. Pale blue dot Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan. All the world’s a stage As You Like It 2.8. Beauty is truth…know “Ode to a Grecian Urn” by John Keats.
Day Six: March 18, 2020
I. Corduroy from Corduroy by Don Freeman. Chuck Bukowski poet (1920-1994). Jack Kerouac author (1922-1969). Jim Baldwin writer and activist (1924-1987). Jim Morrison singer (1943-1971). 2Pac rap artist (1971-1996). Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827). Kubrick, Stanley; filmmaker (1928-1999). Kilwins Tracks an ice cream flavor at Kilwins; Petoskey, Michigan. Astro Coffee in Detroit. Fordson High School in Dearborn, Michigan. DIA The Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit. fire and brimstone The Bible KJV Revelation 21:8.
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