Monday 31 October 2022

Millicent Borges Accardi, "Quarantine Highway"

Millicent Borges Accardi is a Portuguese-American writer. She has four poetry collections including Only More So (Salmon Poetry, Ireland). Among her awards are fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, California Arts Council, CantoMundo, Fulbright, Foundation for Contemporary Arts NYC (Covid grant), Creative Capacity, Fundação Luso-Americana, and Barbara Deming Foundation, "Money for Women." She lives in the hippie-arts community of Topanga, CA where she curates Kale Soup for the Soul and Loose Lips poetry readings. 

About Quarantine Highway, by Millicent Borges Accardi

From re-definition to re-calibration, the poems in this book are artefacts to the early and mid-days of the pandemic. Though not specifically labelled as "Covid poems," they strike to the heart of the universal yet individual struggles of solitude, confinement, justice, isolation and, ultimately, self-reckoning. The poems push and pull between the constantly knocking global news cycle to the stillness of a surreal inner world.

You can read more about Quarantine Highway on the publisher's website here. Below, you can read three sample poems from the collection. 

From Quarantine Highway

Broken Pieces

All was if and maybe and meanwhile. The chorus
sang full of weed, a reflection on the acoustics
in the church, and--when does it ever seem all right--
When will that be again? The empirical
wish of a stupid requirement for happiness. Was that
what it was? And they lived happily ever after is the phrase
perhaps you were looking for, a timid cool minute inside
your head when you used to believe otherwise, back in the slow
when time when it was not the new normal and, man, 
it is not just us; it is global and inflated and then you know 
it is terrifying. Did they take a census this year? 2020. 
America, I seem to remember ten years ago 
the government wanted to know our household income,
and what we did for a living.
This year? The form was all about age and race 
and you could fill in whatever "other" you wanted. 
Like a weakness, a mere description of how it was not
supposed to be.

To Miss the Shadow

It was a dare and a spit and a hope
that we were moving towards
a place, like chasing a storm 
or running through a batch of luck.
No breathing out in the alley
like the tall grass they used to cut back
in the olden days when neighbors
talked over the fence at each other.
And it was OK with God to like family.
Cause we were when and where and we
were how to in the outdoors where
we ran free. The future was all of a piece to keep,
a place to save us from. We were fearful
then of real things that meant something
to us, and it was in our power just to keep
silent in a grand fog of yelling voices,
trying to hold it all together even when it
was so not all right, and the doors were slamming.
Back in the day, we were all so self-important
and wondering-dreamy about ourselves.
And we were sore and solemn, clueless,
like, like yeah it was impossible. Do you 
remember that time when we held everything
in our arms tightly, as if we knew what we were talking about.

Green was the Silence

          From a line by  Pablo Neruda 

It changes meaning like water,
as a living being, like unfettered civility, 
a sunny breezeful summer ahead.
The start of June, it is altogether
Stifling, and as if things would never be straight
again we feel as if we had promised to be
dark and mortal, soon, like strangers
from the past we promised to be each other’s
solid memory. We have shortness of breath
and a pounding inside the lungs.
We cannot remember a time when we were able
to sleep before when we were former and usual 
vivid beings who existed in the city of Los Angeles,
drifting through rivers of errands and emeralds,
as if nothing had happened. We are 
lost now. As if we had been careless. Dropped out.
like music not written down but whistled and hummed
and played under strange circumstances.
Like a stranger with a guitar at a party. 
It is nearly June, near the longest day of the year, 
as Jordan comments in The Great Gatsby, a seasonal marker 
complete with a sign that says, "We’re done now." 
And we are together and alone and about to 
get reckless and cruel, but yet this time it will
be different. This year, belonging to the entangled
world that has been ripped apart.
We are limited by so many things since
the quarantine, absolute touch and hunger
and it all goes to show us that nothing 
is visible or at hand any more. 
We are a perfect example of ration
and virtue, essentially savage and, yet--in a new sense--
we are blindly controllable. We feel alternately
safe and in danger, every moment altered,
with no telling which statement above is truer.
We are reckless-absolute and sexual-reasonable
full of home-shocked martyrdom and wary of being 
present for what is about to come. We pretend
to be on holiday and take 
out the board games, self-full of pride and fear,
notching achievements with false pride:
your charm, my conflict—our 24 hour conversations
lack a richness of reality,
embodied with a generous sadness.

No comments:

Post a Comment