MMXX: 2020 (apocalypse)

First appearing in real time as a serialized collection of “Apocalypse Diaries,” MMXX: 2020 chronicles the day-to-day madness of the Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic. Fusing poetry, memoir, music, and art, Alqamoussi weaves “a 21st-century epic about Suffering, the collective human condition,” ushering us through the depths of the psycho-emotional chaos of one of the most turbulent times in modern history.

 

from MMXX: 2020

There is a detached surrealism about these days, a zooming-in and out of a distant dream. On the surface, normalcy seems intact. The sun ascends the horizon. Oxygen flows in and out. Birds chirp and breezes dance in the trees. There are no alarms or smoke, no bombs or tanks, no screams of panic or blood in the streets. Nothing tangible to run from. But a cauldron of terror and ambiguity bubbles beneath the ether of existence.

When will we hug again? When will we cuddle and kiss again? And run our fingers through each other’s hair? And scratch our noses and rub our foreheads and fart into the eddies of the wind? And laugh and gather around the table trading cups and plates, locking gazes, greeting one another in the streets and aisleways “Good morning!” When will we be bored again?

***

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!

***

They say there was a life before these days,
A world beyond the prisms of our porch,
A time before greensickness perched above
Our doors, before the pasty smog of death
would hourly muzzle against our windowpanes.

They say these towns and storefronts once had doors
That opened, beckoned, beamed with sweet salute.
And food and drink was brought before the guests
And passed around, and offered, shared, and thanked.
And greeters traded joy by mouth and hand,
And shoulders brushed, and hips, and lips, and cheeks,
And bad boys buzzed about the budding girls,
And old men laughed, and bitterness was sweet.

I’ve heard it said that back in the marsh of time,
The children swung from colored metal bars,
And gathered on the grass, beneath the sky,
To kick and shout and ride and swing and sigh.
Those children, now in exile from their homes
Of desks and chairs and books and candid words,
Must press their hearts and minds against a screen.
But back in ancient times, they ran amok
And played their parts so well: complained, rebelled.
And we Kauravas, masters, enemies,
In mask and garb, commenced to stave their taunts
With dates and deadlines, essays, quizzes, tests.
Our Temples, Dojos, Classrooms, now for sale,
The price of life a cost too great to bear.

 

The complete MMXX: 2020 is scheduled for release in 2021.