Staying Alive, Inside (My Coronavirus Diaries, Installment #2)

Saturday, March 21, 2020

The Aborted Poetry Reading

On Wednesday, March 18, I was scheduled to join three other women poets (Toni Bee, Marianne Szlyk, and Lynne Viti) to read recent work on the Quintessential Poetry podcast (, hosted by Dr. Michael Anthony Ingram. The theme of the program, 3 months in the making (almost), was Women’s History Month. I’d spent the afternoon putting the final touches on a new poem I’d written for the program, and I wasn’t all that confident about it. Still, I’d set up a folder on my tablet with this poem and two others, so I could easily read them over the phone.

While trying to decide which room to read from (bedroom, living room, or dining room?), I turned on the living room lamp, and the three-way bulb died. Bad Omen #1. I moved all my supplies to the bedroom and called in to the program site, only to discover that none of us on the call could really hear each other, and what we could hear was distorted! We tried hanging up and dialing back in, with no improvement, until “show time,” when I got a busy signal from the central phone. Bad Omen #2. In panic, I kept redialing, afraid to miss my turn as second reader, when, finally I was reconnected. Bad Omen #3. The first poet was just finishing her first poem when our host interjected, apologizing, and made the executive decision to abort the podcast! The four of us, laughing nervously, shared our disappointment and resolved to reschedule the reading before clicking off.

Immediately after, I received several messages asking what had happened. My initial response was that either the Coronavirus or bad phone connections had done us in. Shortly thereafter, the host emailed us, explaining that there’d been a system malfunction of the host website.

When One Door Closes, A Window Opens

Later that night, I received a Facebook invitation to join a private group to share poems, stories, and reflections about the Coronavirus Pandemic; specifically, about being in quarantine. I joined immediately and wrote a quick post thanking the poet who invited me. Then, wondering if, and when, I’d be up to contributing a post to the group, I went to bed.

Late Thursday night—after the grocery shopping, TV watching, and scrolling through Facebook posts ranging from funny animal posts to faux news to music videos, inspiration struck. I wrote a new poem directly on the new group page and, relieved, fell into a blissful night’s sleep.

After two days of furtive glances (seeking reactions) and secret pride at the positive responses, I have just published this new poem, here, on the blog [].

Feeling Alive, Staying Inside

Buoyed by listening to music videos on Facebook, I spent this afternoon playing vinyl records while giving my kitchen a (passably, to me) thorough cleaning! The playlist was drawn from the videos:

Peter Frampton’s I’m In You (1977)

 Steely Dan’s Aja [(1977)—a total coincidence!!!]

 Bob Dylan’s Slow Train Coming [(1979)—I’m not kidding; totally coincidental!!!]

What made me randomly choose three albums from the late 1970s? They were not on the same shelf, or even in the same room! My record collection is organized by artist and style of music, and their locations are split, half in the dining room, half in the first-floor hallway.

To be honest, though, listening to Peter Frampton did put me in a late-70s state of mind. I was living in my first solo apartment back then, and music is what kept me going.

My hope is that listening to music will propel me to playing music, once more. Only time will tell….

One thought on “Staying Alive, Inside (My Coronavirus Diaries, Installment #2)

  1. Play that guitar, Jackie! Today in that N.Y. Times, an astronaut who spent a year in the space station gives us all some advice. Making music is one of them. I loved this post and am looking forward to hearing you read in the near future, in Quintessential Listening: Poetry on Blogtalk Radio.

    Liked by 1 person

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