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Relationships, Spring 2020

I have grown to know your
screen persona
in these months of viral siege.
I know your nose, your pimpled chin,
your dimpled smile,
the books and plastic penguins
on the shelves behind
your wrinkled frown,
and your strangled gasps
of fascination
I know nothing of your
weight or height,
nor how you walk,
nor whether you smell of heather,
or the reek of a week without a shower.
Are you wearing pants? Or kilts?
Or anything at all
beneath the pixel portrait
I know so well?
I do not really care
for these trifles have no meaning
for relationships
consummated amidst the virus.

  Sam Friedman__

No more nets

As grim-jawed Senators
ambled along the Potomac
chatting about how to transfer tax-cash
and pollution permits
to their favored few,

grimy water splattered their jaws
as giant messages splashed
from the dirty depths.
Three thousand sharks
and countless refugees
from tuna cans
swam past, their fins bearing electric eels aloft
whose neon colors flashed
“No more warming,”
“No more fertilizers or bull shit
from farms or politicians’ mouths,”
and “No more nets
to swell your net worth.”

The politicians’ jaws gaped wide as sharks’
before they recalled their higher values,
and called up some gunboats
to shoot fresh fish for lunch.

  Sam Friedman__

Laws make liars of us all

I wonder what Alex thought
as he lay in bed that night
At lunch, as we talked about the wildcat
that had shut the city’s freight-work down,
ten weeks with nothing moving,
trucks and warehouses silent
as a fish reciting Whitman,
he sipped one beer too many,
said “we” instead of “they,”
opening the way for employers, if I blabbed,
to sue for slews of megabucks.

Did he sleep at all that night?
Or did his talks bobtail around questions of lawsuits
when local union staff abet a wildcat strike?
He never told me.

And me? When I wrote the book?
I had to let readers learn
the truth.
But I never said it.

  Sam Friedman__

© Rafael Colón Morales: Torera en rojo
Size: approx. 36" x 42" 2009

Will I ever dare?

Will my books and papers
molder in loneliness
social distanced in the City
while I forever shelter in place?
While I cower in terror of the 8:01
and its crowds on the platform
where shared air and an elbow in the gut
are minimum daily requirements?
Will I ever dare
to take my commuter train?
Will I ever dare
to reach a seat?

  Sam Friedman__

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        © Rafael Colón Morales: Torera en rojo Size: approx. 36" x 42" 2009