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Michael Steffen

Precedented Times

Covidia by Michael Thompson

We’re living in unprecedented times, people repeat like a mantra,
making me nostalgic for the sepia-toned predictability
of precedented times, each day a carbon copy
of the previous—sunny and 80, stock market up—
when the fist-bump had yet to be invented, the world
not yet a petri dish, and copious toilet paper streams
hung from trees on Halloween. In those days, nobody
told me to fuck off in a supermarket.
We stood close, even in flu season.

What I wouldn’t give for another crack at tight waistbands,
traffic congestion, cubicle-to-cubicle congress,
walking more than a hundred steps in a day…
when everyone gets their second dose of doldrums,
and we all return to movie theaters, everything finally restored
to its wondrous tedium. What a thrill it will be to greet each other
with bone-crushing handshakes and uncomfortable hugs
lasting more than a second—masks gone, lips parting to expose
our dull, yellow teeth, laughing like funhouse clowns.

About the writer:
Michael Steffen’s fourth poetry collection, Blood Narrative, was recently published by Main Street Rag Press. New work has appeared, or will appear soon, in Panoply, New Mexico Review and The Lowell Review. Steffen is a graduate of the MFA writing program at Vermont College and currently lives in Buffalo, New York.

Image: Covidia by Michael Thompson (contemporary). Monoprint. 18 x 12 inches. 2020. By permission. Thompson is an artist living in Chicago who makes large decorative kites.

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