Long Covid

By Janina Karpinska

When did the mask first go on?
In childhood; at home:

that musculature of jaw – clamped shut
for fear of letting words out;

to keep danger from coming in –
things that do not belong. Not

much has changed, then, except this
‘fitting in’ with the rest of the world –

acting out distance as if
Life depended on it.

Janina Aza Karpinska is an Artist-Poet abuse-survivor based in Hove. She has an M.A. in Creative Writing & Personal Development from Sussex University. Self-isolation is a familiar, well-established (non)coping default.

Thanks for the impetus and inspiration to write a Covid-related poem, it feels quite healing to write, in that it has helped to articulate something that has been beyond my ability to fully fathom for some time. About 5 years ago I became aware I had been made the target of a socially connected ‘stalking game’ that had become viral. It was infectious – spreading to every situation – every place; workshop; place of worship – nowhere has been immune – wherever I go, the viral ‘game’ follows. I still don’t know how the game is spread except by smartphone / web connections – social media platforms – anywhere where there are people and devices. Hard to pin down, and to date, no known antidote. I self-isolated by not leaving my home for 2 months, then sporadically for 2 years, then having to develop coping strategies for the resultant ptsd flashbacks of reenacted ‘skits’ I was being constantly subjected to. I did research – discovered it’s a ‘known thing’ – with its own terminology – ‘gang-stalking’ or, ‘ambient abuse’ or ‘slow death’ – just as with the Corona Virus – some believe it’s nonsense – that this thing does not really exist – that it’s a conceptual construct; some are infected themselves and dare not speak out for fear of causing too much upset / contention around themselves; others know only too well what it’s like to suffer with the effects of the virus. It is utterly wretched and has shaped my life in every aspect. 

When Lockdown happened – I barely felt any difference – the world had caught up – had joined me in my isolation. I recognized, however, that the viral game and Covid had revealed many parallels of my childhood experiences. This is still something I am exploring – and this opportunity to write a Covid poem has opened a new door for a way forward. 

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Poetry and Covid-19 ARCHIVE (This website archives the over 1000 poems submitted by over 600 poets, and viewed by over 100,000 from over 125 countries during the Covid-19 pandemic, June 2020-June 2021). Thank you to all who took part in the Poetry and Covid project.

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