Fog in the Tunnel

by Randy Prunty


Not a list but a listening
to the birds that shout
and pop and whistle
derisively at us shut-ins

Not shut-in but shut-up,
boarded up, like a window,
like homeless camps
with tarps over tents

Not homeless but unhoused.
Unapartmented. Unhoteled.
Uncondo’d. Untrailered.
Unjailed, but just barely.

Not barely but bravely
we fight technology
and zoom away with friends,
strangers, therapists.

Not strangers but strays
minutes away from feral
needing love but settling
for food and anxiety

Not anxiety but anhedonia
that needy nemesis
keeping us hopelessly tuned-
in to the mire of daily news

But a mire is not a mirror
unless your face is swamped
like all of us
with the other’s murk

Not others but . . .
ok, others, because maybe
your doxa is not my doxa
but my skin is all ours

not skin but skin and bones
bones like letters on a page
eruptions announcing our presence
– fingers of an everted glove

there’s a finger but then a dismissal
a carved and shiny word or
anything you just almost said
can’t be kept so got rid of it

not rid but riddle – ride and ride
until you see your own eye
not from your face
but up from below

everything is from below
wrapped up like a book
out for a cold day of reading
or speaking if given a chance



Randy Prunty‘s recent work can be seen in New American Writing, the tiny, and Parentheses. His chapbook called Red Wax was published last year by the micropress Ethel. He works in Oakland as a bus driver and I’m married to poet Elizabeth Robinson. Varada J.M. is a 9th-grader based in Kerala’s Koyilandi, studying at Rani Public School, Vadakara. After hurriedly doing homework, Varada divides her time between practicing classical dance and watching horror films. She loves dogs but nobody at home wants one.