"Closed Lips," "Cut My Throat Journal," and "In the Pandemic Pen"

Closed Lips

It’s not that hard to learn that friends have died.
We’re used to death fucking everything up.
But to watch them suffer, to listen to them
scream. And whimper. And moan. That’s rough.
That’s somewhat tougher to take. Dying silently...
Bang! That’s the way to go. No crying. No pleading.
No weeping either. Nothing uttered, nothing heard.
Sooner or later, we’re all clapped into soundlessness,
that eternity without tongues or ears—or so it seems
to me from this breathing distance. But go ahead:
Bitch : Bewail : Beseech. Wriggle : Wrestle : Writhe.
Dance with painful abandon. Do what your body says
you need to do. In a little while, I guess I will too.



Cut My Throat Journal

Cut my throat today.
Since my stroke
I’ve been on blood
thinners, which makes
shaving (something I’m
not good at) a daily horror.
Didn’t lose much blood
this time. See that
horizontal red line just
above my collar? It
should heal completely
in a few days. Then I’ll
be perfect again.
Nothing new.
Jesus! Cut my throat again!
Carelessness born of haste!
Why am I in such a hurry?
My dead wife says nothing
good comes of rushing.
Same old same old.
Life, you know?
Well, not much else to record
except that the basking
in bloody nothingness
remains recursive.



In the Pandemic Pen
(after Melville’s “In the Prison Pen”)

Listless he eyes empty alleyways
and flowering trees now bare;
Life’s barren as a winter beach
What world existed there?
Nothing to do; and vacant hands
bring on the idiot-pain;
He tries to think—to recollect,
but the blur is on his brain.
Around him swarm pandemic ghosts
of those that he once knew.
A wilderness of faces dim
and bodies gashed on view.
A smiting sun. No shed, no tree;
He totters to his lair—    
a den that holds sickness in thrall.
Mere boredom’s wasted there.
Dropping in his place, he swoons
walled in by throngs that press
invisible in his fantasies,   
deadened, meaningless.



Bill Yarrow

Bill Yarrow, Professor of English at Joliet Junior College, is the author of eleven books of poetry including Blasphemer and The Vig of Love. His poems have been published in Poetry International, FRiGG, Gargoyle, PANK, Confrontation, Contrary, Diagram, Thrush, Chiron Review, RHINO, and many other journals. Bill recommends Susan G. Komen for the Cure.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Thursday, September 15, 2022 - 22:02