The Friday Poem: Lockdown Blues & Other Preferences, by Nathan Joe


A new poem from theater maker and performance poet Nathan Joe.

Lock blues and other preferences

(After Liz Breslin and Wislawa Szymborska)

I could tell myself a lesson on how to avoid these confinement blues

But I prefer

To indulge in the possibilities

In what I prefer to do


I prefer collisions

I prefer people who watch without the distance

I prefer excess to restraint

I prefer thigh grazing

Hands holding

Elbows crash

I prefer that time when everyone is waiting for someone else to say

One more drink?

A last drink

Yeah, another drink.

I prefer to fly hours after midnight

I prefer duration to increments

Sprint marathons

I prefer chance

Because the world is so small and at any moment I could run into you

I prefer this thing we do where we meet at the intersection of each other’s paths

Where we don’t know who will go first

And we seek the instinct of the other

And our instincts prove us wrong

I prefer this harmless awkwardness

I prefer your breath on my skin

On live streams

I prefer protest to passivity

I prefer karaoke to singing alone in the shower

I prefer Melodrama more Solar energy

I prefer two decent meals a day to too much food (sorry mom)

I prefer to get these free side dishes in Korean restaurants

I’d rather argue over how to split the bill

I prefer civic to netflix

I prefer astrology to myers briggs

I prefer your smell on my pillow

I prefer too much

too cold

I prefer noise to silence

I prefer lists to couplets

I prefer your jokes in person

As much as I love your used memes

I prefer your voice

by text message

I’d rather have a naughty fagot on the basement steps

I’d rather be affected than not feel anything

I prefer a cheeky line to a line at the supermarket

I prefer my awkwardness to be witness




Give me an audience any day

Give me some embarrassment among others

I want pity not just pain

I prefer dog videos to cat videos

I prefer the profane to the sacred

I’d rather not have morning wood all the time

I prefer masturbation as a treat

Not as a way of life

I prefer yoga in the studio

I prefer not to have so much time to think

I prefer to live love laughter

more laughter containment live

I prefer the discomfort of honesty to the dance of avoidance

I prefer absurdity to stoicism

I prefer sincerity to irony I’m just better at irony

I prefer descents to plateaus

I prefer calluses more candy

I prefer to finger a bowl of hot chips

Sauce soak ketchup kissing

mayonnaise mix

assimilating aioli

cross contamination


I prefer maximalist

I prefer carpe diem to YOLO

I prefer to sweat with strangers in tight spaces

I prefer that time does not slip away

I prefer not to forget the day of the week

I’d rather live in the hope that this is the end

that fear is only the beginning

I prefer the good old days.

The Friday Poem is edited by Chris Tse. Submissions are welcome and will be open until December 31, 2021. Please send up to three poems to [email protected]


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