The Eyes Have It
by Rick Lupert

When the governor said we all had to wear masks
I painted the word poetry on a piece of cloth and
covered my face with it, so everyone within six feet
would know where I was coming from.

I barely open the front door anymore, let alone
walk through it, let alone operate the motor vehicle.
But once a woman outside of the pet store came to
me with a bag of cat litter. She placed it right in the trunk.

Her eyes were everything I knew about her.
Another time in the drive-through at the coffee place
the person who handed me the drinks had painted
around the parts not covered and I could tell she

was smiling by how wide her eyes opened.
This is how we communicate now that our mouths
are off the table. When one part becomes inoperable
another’s abilities are heightened.

Like the part of me at home, or inside the cloth
that becomes extra-aware of what it’s like when two
human beings almost occupy the same space.
Masks used to be a metaphor but now

they’re so literal you can feel when they soak
up your sweat, or, if this is the way your body works,
when the prickles of your beard poke through
the mesh. Now everyone has something to hide.

And we get away with it. Until the scientists
make it go away. Until this is a memory on
a vaccination form. A box checked by a doctor like
all the long-gone sicknesses we still hold nostalgia for.

PHOTO: The author at the vet with his un-masked kitty, Bootsy.
(Photo by Rick Lupert)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: We send out children to school and camp with the requisite vaccination forms…my hope is that someday soon, “COVID-19” will be just another checkbox on this form.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rick Lupert has been involved with L.A. poetry since 1990. He is the recipient of the 2014 Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center Distinguished Service Award and was a co-director of the Valley Contemporary Poets for two years. He created the Poetry Super Highway  and hosted the weekly Cobalt Cafe reading for almost 21 years. His first spoken word album Rick Lupert Live and Dead, featuring 25 studio and live tracks, was released in March 2016. He’s authored 23 collections of poetry, including Hunka Hunka Howdy, Beautiful Mistakes, and God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion, and edited the anthologies Ekphrastia Gone Wild,  A Poet’s Siddur, A Poet’s Haggadah, and the noir anthology The Night Goes on All Night. He also writes and draws (with Brendan Constantine) the daily web comic Cat and Banana and writes the Jewish Poetry column “From the Lupertverse” for Jewish Journal. He is regularly featured at venues all over the world. Follow him on Facebook.

Author photo by Alexis Rhone Fancher