Under Lockdown

by Josh P. Cohen

Before corona stole my crown,
I was still the king of Prince Street,
with my bag full of books and medicine,
my brow, furrowed only by the hacky,
drip-drop cough that always lingers
in the winter months and nags
at the back of my throat ‘til spring—

back before, when my
toes still bounced me
down the city streets on
easy rubber soles,

without imagining
the air had suspended
a million glittering
droplets that spread like
gossip around the town.

After a couple of weeks,
I’d almost grown used
to hiding like this,
in my apartment,
in a gentle, sheepish fog,

washing my hands
every hour or so,
and singing “Happy Birthday”—
twice, like I’m supposed to,

keeping time, as I turn
into Howard Hughes, in my
ratty, coffee-stained robe,

wandering from room
to room, like I can’t quite
find my equilibrium.

But I’m still holding firm,
still staring out the window
at the Amish family, toiling
away like nothing’s changed,
on their hands and knees,
in a dug-up strip of farmland
across the street.

Their weary, pent-up Holsteins
chew their cud, with an expression
that says they honestly couldn’t care less,
that says, “Really, how could anyone
not have seen this was coming?”


Josh P. Cohen is a librarian at a small college in central PA. In addition to poetry, he also writes plays and songs.

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