Writing the Apocalypse: Is It Life or an Illusion?

Puma Perl and Friends at the Bowery Electric, 4/16/21. | Photo by Anne Husick

Writing the Apocalypse is a weekly series featuring the poems, essays, and recollections of

Puma Perl, with subject matter influenced by her experiences

as a NYC resident during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Is It Life or an Illusion? | BY PUMA PERL


there are text messages

and emails to answer,

there are calendar notations,

appointments to schedule,

appointments to cancel,

double bookings,

rehearsal studios,


hair stylists


My makeup

and wardrobe

need upgrades

I can no longer

look exactly the same

Nexus Flea, 4/17/21. | Photo by Puma Perl

every day

and now,

there are nights


And there are occasions

More variations are required

There is a memorial service

There is a brunch

There is a recording

There is an indoor show

An outdoor show

A gallery reading

A pop-up flea

A breakfast meeting

A dinner

A dentist

A doctor

A video

A protest



there is more

than one thing a day

I had gotten used

to that one thing,

the thing

that got me out of the house


Today I go to the post office

Tomorrow I go to the bank

Veselka. | Photo by Puma Perl

The next day I go to Trader Joe’s

The day after to the library


Despite everything,

there was a comfort to the routines


Supposedly, there is life

Saturday looked more like 1999

and less than ever like 2020

But it’s still haunting

Nothing is “over”

I don’t know what “over” means


Is this life?

I wear my rings again,

occasionally change my earrings

from the four hoops I wore

for thirteen months,

select a pair of boots

from the shoeboxes

piled up in the closet


Don’t know where we’re going

Not even sure where we’ve been

Is this life?


© puma perl, 04/20/2021

Puma Perl is a poet and writer, with five solo collections in print. The most recent is Birthdays Before and After (Beyond Baroque Books, 2019.) She is the producer/creator of Puma’s Pandemonium, which brings spoken word together with rock and roll, and she performs regularly with her band Puma Perl and Friends. She’s received three New York Press Association awards in recognition of her journalism, and is the recipient of the 2016 Acker Award in the category of writing. Her most recent books can be found by clicking here.

Puma with SoulCake, 4/17/21. | Photo by Alan Rand


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One Response to "Writing the Apocalypse: Is It Life or an Illusion?"

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