What must we conclude when the cycle ends?
Is there cause for hope, for optimism,
A balm we can surely find in Gilead?
Or isn’t all just a wink and a nod,
Yet another slave narrative that shows
the futility of our pleas for peace?
As a teen I thought Robert Redford might
Someday be President. I mean, Bobby Seale
Didn’t really stand a chance and Redford
Was at least a man of action. But there
was no great art in his films, well, except
in that spy flick he did with Dunaway –
Who had been my secret crush forever –
Where, under duress, she said, “This is . . . unfair!”
To my shipmate, Wendy
Some might say this work/life has given us
A warped sense of humor. We cast a glance
At each other and smile. Yes, I was there
With you in Baghdad, dodging mortar rounds
On selected days, and on the tarmac
Overnight in Kuwait City where we
had to have a special sense of humor
To survive war’s absurd insanity.
Time passes. The wounds heal. The scars remain.
We write the future, it does not write us.
We arrange and describe our past to fit
truth’s narrative arc. It doesn’t matter
That we spent nights in the Palace
Fearful of those whose lands we invaded.
Fences – Act Two, Scene Four
In the denouement our classic warrior
(Such is the tragedy that was his life)
Loses all that was once near and dear.
The cherished love of his wife is broken
After her decision to not refuse
The result of his infidelity.
He loses the respect of his son,
So long assumed, compelled by fear,
Never inspired by true affection.
His best friend doesn’t come around
Any more, not even for a Friday drink
That once satisfied a parched thirst.
Finally, abandoned by his own sense
of taste (Yes! A multiple metaphor!),
He is left to swing aimlessly at all
Those fast balls on life’s outside corners.
I’m reading Transgenerational Trauma.
I should be planning my day of telework
at home, surrounded by distractions.
No one sits within six feet of me –
social distancing is the new rule.
Garland Nixon is broadcasting
On Radio Sputnik. At noon the pope
is giving a special prayer and Fatima
in Portugal is consecrating the world.
My mask is not stylish but effective.
Everybody on Twitter has something
Snarky to say about the corona virus.
I took my Vitamin C with coffee –
We’ll keep the barking hounds at bay.
See the line at Trader Joes this morning?
Wrapped down the block and around the corner –
Each shopper six feet apart from the next?
Whole Foods is still out of Vitamin C
And limiting frozen pizza to four
Per shopper. Good prices on naval oranges –
Stocking up to stave off scurvy, rickets.
Press conference on standby – gotta get
Latest developments on the crisis.
Never mind the moral imbecility
Of the press corps – the message seeps through
Their banterings and raillery
(And that’s being charitable. My goodness!)
The time to learn the news is nigh.
Work meetings on Zoom today –
Two confirmed cases on campus
Mean shutdown until further notice.
But the library can never completely close
So there’s telework for all library staff –
Eight hours per week on site.
This ain’t a poem, it’s a list, too much
Is happening to restrict it to 14 lines.
Taxes postponed. What if it’s all a fraud?
Read some good Angolan history today –
Precolonial stuff, and an Amilcar Cabral
Essay: History is a weapon – all for my
Docent course, even though this week’s
Walk-through at the museum is cancelled.
Writing my own poems gave me
A deeper appreciation for poetry
Just like writing my own play
Helped me better understand drama.
Keeping a written record
is a small “d” democratic Art and
the expressed urge to write
is a small “r” republican Virtue.
Both strengthen the body politic.
But both require a voyage, not a visit,
as Mrs. Brooks’s The Chicago Picasso
would be pleased to know we learned.
The present quasi lockdown provides us
Space and time to take the journey.