Coronavirus sent me home from my day-job at the hospital on the third of April. I did not get *really* sick until a while later, around the 8th. I am now in some sort of extended and relentless recovery pattern. Short of breath most of the time, coughing, dizzy, confused, and spiking fevers long past the time I had thought I was done with this thing.

These days, I’ve been finding language and sentences fairly difficult. Notes, I can handle. Pictures, graphs, and charts: all fine. But words? Not so much.

Suddenly, I’m a person with inhalers and meds who has a hard time focusing on anything significant for more than a few minutes, tracking my temps and resting pulse and breaths per minute—I am told to give it time to pass and I trust it will.

Collages though? I could sit and do them all day long. So, here is the first of many.

PROMPT: make a wordless poem


  • Cover an image in rubber cement
  • Allow individual letters to fall randomly onto the sticky page
  • If they land wrong-side up, leave it
  • I personally had a little baggie of pretty little letters
  • But you can cut some out, if you don’t have a baggie of letters
    (what if you don’t want to use letters?
    that is fine: use some images. use whole words. use colors.
  • Shake the page to free any unhinged letters
  • Repeat until all letters are used

There is just the hint of a poem here. I guess I would challenge you to do what feels right to you. I will only say, I had been struggling all day with collages and words and talking and trying to write meaningful or at least useful things, and as soon as it occurred to me that I could just dump a bunch of pretty letters onto the page and give it a title, IT FELT RIGHT. It was the very first decision I’d made in some time that I did not question.

Final Step

TITLE! Obviously, the title will be the most important addition to this poem. Without a title, this poem is actually not a poem at all. So, choose carefully.

in other news: Sometime during all of this, I sold my newest essay, Insomnia & Sleep Notes, to Shenandoah—to be published sometime next year. Shenandoah is one of a very few journals I've admired since before I was a writer. Being based out of Washington & Lee University about an hour SW of my hometown, it was always available in the libraries and holds a particular place in the story I used to tell myself about being somebody someday; about escaping from my born-into-life. It was the first time I'd found it in my guts to submit to them and I really cannot think of a more perfect place to house this essay.