This season, I was gratified to discover a few Millenials embracing an old-fashioned tradition, writing and mailing out Christmas letters.  My nephew Sam, an aspiring artist and musician who toiled at Walgreens by day and performed at open mikes by night before COVID interrupted his life, did a phenomenal job with his letter, closing with his “playlist” for 2020:   

Will You Miss Me When I Burn?  (Palace Brothers)

Say Valley Maker (Smog )

Out of Tune (Real Estate Band)

Jubilee Street (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds)

Helplessness Blues (Fleet Foxes)

Sister (Angel Olsen)

Weyes Blood – Bad Magic (Mexican Summer)

It Seemed the Better Way (Leonard Cohen)

Shelter From The Storm (Bob Dylan)

Pretty Eyes (Silver Jews)

He sent me a YouTube link, so I spent a morning listening to his picks, trying to imagine the impact of the pandemic on the young… Living alone or with roommates in tiny apartments, going to scary essential jobs or scraping by on unemployment, alienated from friends, dating, and most social venues.  There is some overlap, certainly, but I am 52 and married, introverted, and retired.  I am my own landlord, have my own washer and dryer, and enjoy the company of two dogs and a cat.  I’m content baking cakes and reading the newspaper and assembling jigsaw puzzles. In fact, I may continue living this way after COVID has passed.  52 is quite different from 25.  Immersing myself in his playlist was like journeying to the past in a time machine.  When a particular lyric spoke to me, I jotted it down on an index card.  Strung end-to-end, with a little rearranging, these lyrics became a “found” poem: 


It is longing that you feel,
to be missed, or to be real.
The world outside is so inconceivable,
often, you barely can speak,
a ten ton catastrophe  
on a 60pound chain.
The one-eyed undertaker,
he blows a futile horn.
At least there’s nothing more
you could really lose, now is there?

You wonder what it was…
You wonder what it meant…
You know we can’t cop to
the frequency of your inner debate
so you learn to take it as it comes.
You fall together, fall apart
with the grace of a corpse   
in a riptide.
Make the best of death 
and love what’s left.

Do you still believe stars
are the headlights of angels
driving from heaven
to save us?

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12 thoughts on “FOUND POEM

  1. colinandray January 5, 2021 / 2:17 pm

    Looks like a pretty broad range of taste. Good for him. I had not heard of most of them, but then :Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan showed up! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan January 5, 2021 / 3:39 pm

      Thanks, Colin! Mostly acoustic guitar ballads, but I liked the variety of artists, voices, tones, and techniques. Sam plays guitar and writes his own songs.


  2. Tippy Gnu January 5, 2021 / 2:21 pm

    It’s gotta be rough for those working all that overtime in hospitals. And for those who can’t find any work at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan January 5, 2021 / 3:44 pm

      You’re right, Tippy. If I hadn’t retired when I did, I’d be one of them. My sister and niece, both nurses, are working their tails off. In masks, faceshields, gowns, gloves, etc. Sweat soaking through their t-shirts and turning their fingers to prunes inside their gloves.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. judyrutrider January 5, 2021 / 3:37 pm

    Make the best of death

    and love what’s left.

    Oh crap, that made me cry. You’re right, we mature folks have it so easy. Covid has given us license to do what we have wanted to do all along. But I weep for the young people whose lives have been so altered.Thankfully, they are adaptable and invincible.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan January 5, 2021 / 4:03 pm

      Sorry, JRR, I didn’t mean to make you cry. I remember going off to college and crying from homesickness. I was embarrassed and told my roommate I just “had allergies” through I’m sure she saw right through me. How hard it must be to depart the nest and lose your place in that warm-fuzzy “bubble.” When COVID is lurking, where do you meet old and new friends? How do you date? Is it safe to take someone else’s laundry out of the washer in order to use it? If playing gigs and open mikes was what you lived for, what happens when the clubs close and you’re relegated to playing on Zoom or making YouTube videos? I loved your holiday letter, by the way. I just got it today. I think I would enjoy living in your neighborhood, having fresh (free!) produce delivered to my doorstep. I was blown away that someone would set off fireworks (for a baby gender reveal!) when your area of the country is like a tinder box. I hope the new septic system was worth cutting down the tree. I confess, I DID hoard toilet paper. But I am always a TP hoarder, not just in pandemic times. I feel uneasy with a stock level less than 36 mega rolls. Maybe me and Ma Scotto will come visit you and Pinot Noir one day. 🙂


      • judyrutrider January 5, 2021 / 11:01 pm

        I’d love to have you! There are 24 rolls of Trader Joe’s recycled TP in the granny flat just waiting for your arrival. Wait, that didn’t sound right! The paper wasn’t toilet paper when it was recycled…I don’t know what it was in its previous life. Don’t ask; don’t tell.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Just Joan January 6, 2021 / 9:36 am

        LOL. It’s probably made out of post-consumer Amazon boxes and Christmas cards. Let’s start calling your guest accommodations the Hot Mama Flat, OK?


  4. murisopsis January 5, 2021 / 4:49 pm

    I love this Cento!! It has all the power and angst that 25 wallows in and 52 merely tiptoes through. My sons are in the same boat – no dates, essential jobs and the fear of contact with the uncooperative public… At least they live together and share meals, video games and other solitary pursuits. Judy mentioned that your newsletter was hysterically funny and that I should ask for a copy (after she confused me by thinking I had sent it…) Maybe a redacted version as a post? Just asking as we all need a little giggle…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan January 5, 2021 / 5:55 pm

      Glad you enjoyed the found poem, it helps that Sam’s chosen songs were powerful and angsty. I can’t post the holiday letter here, I tried and the new WP format bungles it all up. If you would like a copy mailed to you, go to my blog site and use “contact me” to leave me your real, physical address and I will send it


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