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Saturday, December 11, 2021


by Julian Matthews

“Dinner With Friends” Painting by Victoria Coleman

A poem on our first meeting after being in a writing workshop on Zoom for six weeks, and in various lockdowns for a year and ten months.

And so we sit at the table partaking of a meal,
the home-made, home-cooked, home-delivered
a gathering of friends, new and old,
unmuted, unzoomed, live, in-person, fully embodied,
greeting each other like refugees
meeting on the dock, our boats having survived
the treacherous crossing of middle class suburbia
and stepping back onto the shores of human connection again, 
wetting our cold feet and lapping up warm chatter about pets, 
pasta, pastries, prices, politics and the pandemic, always the 
and, thankfully, of our common love of books, and writing and 
and missing sitting in darkened theatres with strangers, to watch 
     a movie,
or a play or just chilling with a warm-up, pre-concert cocktail, 
     perhaps a long island tea, 
or two, before listening to an orchestra, fingers fondling keys, 
     bows caressing strings,
lips pressed against mouthpieces, hugging tubas, the tsk-chizz 
     of sticks on cymbals, 
being enveloped by the sensurround sounds of music played by 
     real, in-the-flesh humans...

And in the end there is laughter, ribbing and the teasing out
of each other's backgrounds, our reasons for being, why the 
     need to put words
on rectangular screens, this unboxing of the isolation inside us, 
     this shedding of thickened skins,
double-vaxxed, immunized, and unmasked, fully ensconced in 
     that most singular of human acts,
the Art of Conversation, manifesting our ancestral DNA of 
     gathering around the embers of dying
fires under stars, trading stories, sharing opinions and yes, even 
just to know we are alive, 
we are still alive.

Julian Matthews is a former journalist finding new ways to express himself in the pandemic through poetry, short stories and essays. He is published in Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Nine Cloud Journal, Poor Yorick Journal, Borderless Journal, Second Chance Lit, Poetry and Covid, the anthology Unmasked: Reflections on Virus-time (curated by Shamini Flint), cc&d magazine, a Scars Publication, and forthcoming in the American Journal of Poetry. He is based in Malaysia.