From the Foreword
The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.
– Antonio Gramsci
These prose poems emerged from the pandemic lock down that began in San Francisco on March 16, 2020. My early morning ritual of bicycling to a coffee shop and writing abruptly ended. I switched to brewing my own coffee and writing in the kitchen. The initial writing came from my training and work as a clinical psychologist. The result was a blog called ‘The Psychology of Difficult Times.” https://drwilliamvlach182489337.com/. This work was aimed at what Antonio Gramsci defined as “morbid symptoms.” These were small essays and advice on ways to cope with ‘symptoms.’
Soon I found the psychological approach was correct, but insufficient. Other things– images, flailing thoughts, and god forbid, an absurd humor– arose. I began a daily writing regimen. The writing developed into a series of prose poems. I soon found that they made the rest of my day a bit lighter. Other readers told me the same.
We are in a transitional state, “liminal” as the anthropologists call it. It seems we are being attacked by both the morbid and absurd simultaneously. I won’t list the obvious causes. The ancient dual masks of theater, tragedy and comedy, are apt symbols of our lives now. We live in the extremes of human emotion. Our species historically has grappled with the incredible tensions of tragedy and absurdity with the potent power of of poetry. Tragedy allows us to deeply feel. The way to deal with the absurd I’ll leave to Mark Twain– “The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.”
PS. The author takes no responsibility for deleterious side effects if these are ingested more than one or two a time.