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Meditations in an Emergency

(with apologies to Frank O'Hara)



Paul Wilner

“I am the least difficult of men. All I want is boundless love.”

What I don’t now, nor ever will,

find essential, or even amusing.

Netflix. Podcasts. Looking up

conspiracy theories on the internet.

Calling up friends, relatives, colleagues

and asking them, what’s new,

how are you doing, are you still

alive? If so, why? If not, why not? Promoting the theory that “everything

has changed,’’ when it never has, and

never will, not after Columbine, 9/11,

Katrina, the day the cleaners lost my

laundry, the long lines at Trader Joe’s,

the fact that my neighbor bought

a gun, the color orange, for instance,

as opposed to red, or blue, or tangerine

dream. Looking for the tangible,

elusive, but right in front of us.

Your face. My own. The mirror

which stares back at us with immutable

mercy, and pity.

Paul Wilner is a poet, critic and longtime journalist whose work has

appeared in The Paris Review, ZYZZYVA magazine, Alta Journal, Barnes

and Noble Review, the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times and

many other publications. Born in New York, he's been in Northern

California for many years, and currently lives in Seaside.

This poem originally appeared in