For the past few weeks, not a day has gone by without encountering the word ‘quarantine’ – usually used as a verb meaning “to isolate to prevent the spread of a disease.”

As a noun, quarantine means a period of 40 days. It comes from the Latin word, quadrāgintā, which also means forty.

Today is April 25, 2020 and it’s Day 40 of shelter in place (in Northern California, at least). So does that mean our quarantine is over?

Sadly, no. We still don’t know when restrictions will be eased or lifted.

I Wrote a Book of 40-Syllable Poems and Called It ‘Quarantine’

In 2013, the year I turned 40, I wrote several 40-syllable poems and published them along with some of my favorite snapshots at the time.

I called my project ‘Quarantine’ because I wanted to emphasize the theme of forty: 40-syllable poems written by a 40-year-old. Yeah, I thought I was so clever.

But not in my wildest imagination did I think that there would be a pandemic and that most of the world would be living under quarantine.

It was the furthest thing from my mind when I decided on a title for my book of poems and snapshots.


These days, I think about the word all the time. The idea that we may be in quarantine indefinitely has even inspired me to write a new 40-syllable poem that I call “inside/outside”:


we show our shells


we see ourselves


we cover face


a change of pace


we are exposed


beneath our clothes

grace, strength

who knows?

Quarantine book of poems

My gift to you

If you’d like to read my book, click on the image above. Then click on “Preview” to view all 40 pages.

I hope all of you are doing well and staying safe.