Five Poems by Dorothea Naouai

Brave New World

Every time I see

The pixel-signs

Alongside the parkway



         STAY HOME

        WASH YOUR 



       WEAR A MASK 

          IN PUBLIC


I feel like I am

Watching a futuristic

Film in which the 

World is forever changed,

              (Blade Runner or Mad Max)


In which 


Is unrecognizable.




Unlike the movie


I cannot turn to 

My companion,

Popcorn wedged between

My teeth, and say:


             “Can you imagine?…”

Corona I

We spent the days


Like spent lovers,

In each others’ arms,

Breathing slowly,

Our bodies blazing

With the virus,

Come to re

Member us to

The Magnificent,

To the delicate


Corona II

The great equalizer

The stealthy

The quick and merciless

The door closer

The heart opener

The grocery shelf vaporizer


The mask wearer

The measuring stick

The zoom meeting maker

The dog walker

The game player


The invisible

The vanquisher

The loss-maker, 

Grief wailer


The store closer

The job annihilator

The lonely days

The ‘are you my neighbor?’


The pace-setter

The confiner

The fear-generator

The faith-maker


                                      Mother Nature’s fury

                                      See what it feels like, 


                                      “I can’t breathe” 

                                      Planet choking, along with

                                      Eric Garner, 

                                      Countless others, named and


                                      Violence upon violence,

                                      Greed and neglect.


                                      This is what it feels like.



Corona III

Watch the Visible Ink performance here.


Composer: Andrew Sotomayor  Director/Choreographer/Dancer: Matthew Steffens Voiceover Artist: Karen Wexler



Is sleeping in his 

Bed again;

Lung capacity

Greatly diminished

But breathing, still

Still, breathing

He opens his eyes

And beneath

The hollow

Of the ordeal 

Behind him

A drinking in,

A recognition

Of all that

Was familiar

And now is new


Aladdin’s treasure,

Nearly lost,

To the kryptonite

Of the invisible organism


Video Credits:

Andrew Sotomayor – Composer
Matthew Steffens – Director/Choreographer/Dancer
Karen Wexler – Voiceover Artist 

Galas Have Been Cancelled

Galas have been cancelled

and the banquet halls are empty


The morning commute 

is a breeze

And the subway shuts down

            at night

                           for cleaning


Restaurants and cafés,

             struggling yet with

             take out and delivery,

have stacked their

tables and chairs


Hair salons, bars, museums, schools:

All shuttered


Only grocery stores are busy,

lines of masked customers,

respecting 6 feet distance


Zoom has replaced

             the board room,

             the meeting hall,

             the classroom,

             the newsroom and

             late night talk shows


Telehealth is the new norm 


Even chamber music

and a capella concerts, 

tune up virtually,

the individual parts

performed in living rooms

across the world and

expertly edited together 


Family dinners and game night,

Tiny faces in tiny boxes,

Screens within screens


Weddings, funerals, graduations

All online.


And still, the birds

begin to sing 

             (of open sky?)

in the green, green world

outside my lightening



The one with whom

I share my life

sleeps soundly beside me;

             Deep breath in

             Deep breath out

Author Bio

Dorothea Biba Naouai is an RN working in hospice and a student in the Narrative Medicine masters program at Columbia University. She and her husband of 30 years both fell ill with COVID 19 and recovered. Her husband is a chef and collects Superman memorabilia.

Instagram: @dorotheanaouai

Photo credits

Dorothea Biba Naouai