During his first day working from home on March 19, Adam Lazarus set one personal goal: write a poem every day to bring a little joy to friends and loved ones until the pandemic goes away.
At the time he thought the project might just last a few weeks at most.
And, well, 63 days later it's still going strong.
Lazarus' collection of writings, Poems for Pandemics, is described as "cheerful rhymes for challenging times." His playful writing style is largely influenced by his love of hip hop music, Shel Silverstein, Dr. Seuss, Adam Sandler and the Beastie Boys.
The poems, which he publishes on Facebook every day are a mix of some old and mostly new poems with topics that range from experiences during the pandemic, to life in general and absurd musings on things like snoring, manatees and the desert heat.
For his poem "The Curve" he wrote about just how hard it is to flatten one type of curve:
Staying fit while quarantined
Is harder than I thought
My goal was to eat healthy.
And lose weight. But I'm not.
Dieting while distancing
Is proving quite a feat.
I'm trying to be disciplined.
But all I do is eat.
All around the planet,
the curve is getting flatter.
Stuck inside though, snacking?
My curves are getting fatter.
"I didn't do it to become famous or to go viral or monetize it," he says. "I know a lot of people who were hurting and who were let go and people who have been really, really struggling so that was my goal, to make them laugh, make them happy, make them smile."
Day 11 was about the great toilet paper shortage of 2020. On Day 30 Lazarus did some pandemic math quantifying all the things that happened in that span of time including: 57 TikTok posts, 9 hours of Tiger King, 14 types of masks, 65 board games and 2 unemployment claims.
On Day 52 he wrote an ode to the real life superheroes helping people every day. And Day 60 was a humorous list of all the things that have been on the poet's mind for the last two months.
"Some of them are kind of evergreen but a few of them are just — this is a one shot only and maybe it's a time capsule of our experience," he says.
Lazarus works as the vice president of digital strategy for Bon Voyage Travel, a Tucson-based travel agency, where he writes a lot of content for the brand including blog posts and articles. But poetry and verse have been Lazarus' favorite forms of writing since he was a teen.
"When I was 12 or 13 years old, I was this little white Jewish kid growing up in Florida and I loved rap music. I love the Beastie Boys and I like Run DMC and I loved anything that was different and that had a beat to it," he says. "So I would do a lot of freestyle raps and make my friends laugh."
Poetry has also been Lazarus' preferred way of documenting life's events.
"Before social media and all that stuff in college and beyond, I would write to recap events or weddings or my kids' births or vacations we went on," he says. When he proposed to his wife he wrote a treasure hunt that led her to Gates Pass where he popped the question. And after his sons were born he wrote poems about the things he learned about being a dad at two weeks, four weeks, eight weeks and so on.
Lazarus is a pretty quick writer, which he credits to his knack for freestyle rap and being able to think quickly on his feet, so most poems take a day or two to take from idea to being ready to publish.
He's constantly jotting down ideas in a notebook he keeps by his bed, or on his phone. Inspiration for topics comes from things his 11 and 14 year-old sons or his wife discuss at the dinner table or random thoughts that come to mind like what his dog might be thinking when he takes him out for a walk.
And then he sits down to turn his ideas into poems at night.
"I kind of write very stream of conscious and I don't care about technical capability it's more about is it funny? Will it make people laugh?" he says.
Although he meant for his poems to bring some humor to his friends and family, since he created the Poems for Pandemics Facebook page Lazarus has heard from strangers from all around the world. There's been praise from readers in England, a poem topic suggestion from Australia and a member of Michael Franti's band (one of Lazarus' favorites) left a comment on one of Lazarus' posts.
"This whole pandemic is one of those things that, in the history of my lifetime you'd always be like 'oh man those poor people of Haiti' when there's an earthquake or 'those poor people wherever, fill in the blank' and this is the first time it's been like oh all of us are the same," he says. "We're not in the same boat, but we're all in the same storm."
“Everyday Heroes” by Adam Lazarus
Some heroes leap a tall building.
Some heroes fly up, up and away.
But in these hard times
The real heroes we find
Are the people who help every day.
I have nothing but love for the nurses.
Overworked. Underpaid. On their own.
They’re on the front lines
In these challenging times,
Working hard while the world stays at home.
I have deep admiration for doctors.
Giving all so we all stay alive.
The pressure is large
But they’re leading the charge
To ensure that all people survive.
I’m humbled by healthcare professionals.
Custodians, lab techs and aides.
The admin staff too,
Thanks for all that you do,
You each deserve raises in spades.
My appreciation for actual experts,
The scientists stating the facts.
We move forward 'cause you've got our backs.
Gratitude for grocery store staffers,
Showing up every day without fail.
With masks hiding smiles
While restocking aisles
So we can buy pasta and kale.
My respect to the restaurant workers,
Faced with impossible feats.
They’ve kept their composure
Through changes and closure
To ensure their community eats.
I’m thankful for travel advisors,
Beside us when journeys unravel.
To make cancellations
And protect our vacations,
They’re truly the titans of travel.
My esteem for every schoolteacher,
Creating their classes online.
Doing what’s prudent
To ensure every student
Still learns and continues to shine.
I’m beholden to bus and truck drivers,
And all the delivery crews.
Who help in the fight,
Driving all day and night
With important supplies we can use.
My salute to the struggling parents.
Take a bow. And always stand tall.
The stay-at-home mothers,
Single parents and others,
Your job is the hardest of all.
I have reverence for all first responders.
I venerate all volunteers.
Anyone sewing masks,
Or doing tough tasks
To solve problems, save lives and shed fears.
To the helpers – we’re forever indebted!
Legends in all forms and shapes.
They’ve endured all the onus,
And this virus has shown us,
That true heroes rarely wear capes.