HARTKE1
May Day 2020 – Monologue
by Ken Hartke

Mayday! Mayday!
How can this possibly be a Friday?
What the hell happened to Thursday?
It seems the daze dribble out unseen.
Um . . . days. Oops, Freudian slip.
I probably need to watch that. People talk.
On Wednesday, the ants took over the kitchen.
I remember that like it was yesterday.
That was my big safari day.
I went deep; into the seldom-seen regions
— parts unknown down below the sink.
Raid smells funny. Squirt — squirt.
The ants retreated but are undefeated. They’ll be back.
My mask is in the car. I just checked. Again.
My lifeline to real people.
It’s still there. It is still there from Tuesday.
That was my last contact with the outside world
— Contact, as in the spoken word; as in
to a real human. Three humans…I just counted.
Monday, I went for groceries.
Yeah…Definitely Monday.
Masked Monday. Everyone is masked.
Masked, masked, masked…
We have up and down aisles now. More rules.
I’m the one going the wrong way — rebel that I am.
Old ladies give me the masked stink eye as they pass.
(Maybe that was a wink?)
A crafty friend made me a mask — blue with white ties.
Very nice, too. I discovered that I can’t tie a knot
behind my head. My usual surgical mask,
the one in the car, loops behind my ears
along with my glasses and hearing aids.
It’s busy back there. I think I need bigger ears.
Pretty soon my hair will be so long
I won’t even need a mask.
I compared eyebrows with my cat
— he still is winning. But not by much.
He is my therapist at this point.
He thinks I’m nuts. He’s starting to hide.
I notice there’s a lot of that going around.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I think the novelty of masks and isolation has worn thin for some of us. We are prone to mind games and second-guessing after weeks of solitary confinement — as many single people are experiencing. That is the idea behind this rambling “monologue” poem (of sorts).

HARTKE2 copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ken Hartke is a writer and photographer from the Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico, but was originally planted and nourished in the Midwest. His New Mexico images now inspire much of his writing. He has contributed work for the Late Orphan Project’s anthology These Winter Months (The Backpack Press), and Foliate Oak Literary Magazine. He keeps an active web presence on El Malpais and other places.