ON BIG PINE KEY:   QUARANTINED WITH WORDS

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     My words,

They’ve marched in on dreams,

Printed conversations with those

Who’ve mastered their form

They’ve fallen from my tongue in hailstorms –

WTFs after reading NYT’s homepage

     Today, I am stuck at the intersection of

“If only” and “Where to now?”

30 minutes ago, over coffee and sunrise

I knew where I was going

 Now, not so much

     We walk the dog

I look for the cardinal who had

Been singing his bright red song

For weeks now

He’s gone – beating the lockdown

Finding a mate who loves his music

     But I am still here

Quarantined in paradise

Wrestling with each letter

Clanging demands

Words; unheard cries

Unraveling the earth

Before it dies

 

 

QUARANTINE – Week three:

Ibis 6ft

NOTES FROM A FREE-RANGE PUNDITIn an effort to be less judgmental of my Florida neighbors, I’m striving to remain open and friendly. Yes, different from my angry social-media persona. Hey, I’m trying.

I was walking Ellie when I spoke to my down-the-street neighbor – a man who normally turns his head when I walk by. That day, though, I was able to establish eye contact and be the first to say, “hello how are things?”  He mumbled something like, “They’ve been better,” as he continued to close his gate. Good start, I thought as I continued on my walk. Then, on my return, I saw him still standing in his yard and after asking questions about Ellie and her “breed” he patted her on the head. I thought – he can’t be that bad he likes my dog.

We began to talk. He told me he is 78 as we discussed the coronavirus and how people will be more willing to communicate now in spite of the six-feel-of separation rule. We discussed our ability to speak and even agree on some things while not on others. I agreed that it was nice to communicate in spite of our differences. Then, as if he needed to know this before he got any older, he asked me my racial heritage. I told him bi-racial, black and Anglo but I identify as African American. He proceeded to tell me what he thought about blacks with Dred-locks (dumb assholes). I told him he should have seen me in my Angela Davis-huge afro.  Silence – I could almost hear the whooshing sound of that visual flying right over his head. He moved on to his fears that the current isolation will cause people in the cities to go crazy with break-ins and such before marching on to the Florida Keys and his place (I looked around – – unlikely in my estimation). I listened, surprisingly unoffended – I really did like – something about the guy. Pity – maybe, for all his fearfulness? I asked him what he thought the color of the face of these break-in artists was? “Black,” he said. I told him he had another kind of sickness – and bad. I said he was far too fearful and that he should quit watching Fox News.

In an effort to redeem himself he pointed out to me that the thieves who were certain to come and break in his house were –  Haitian, not African American. I guess he wanted me to share his fears.

Oh well, some days, six feet will not be enough. ;(

QUARANTINE: Week Two

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Like our electronic toys

The world has a reset button

When we ignore her overheating

She admonishes with flames

When we foul our nests

She sends the oceans in retort

And when we ignore the world’s health,

Its inhabitants’ well-being,

Choosing to chase vicious luxuries

Because – we can

She sends the enemy invisible

The virus incurable,

Barely namable

Scoffing dreams and schemes

Our world has reset

An algorithm for stimulus

Six-degrees of separation

Leaves room for empathy

We leave food for the hungry

We drive the immobile

We care for the sick

We handsomely tip the daring

Souls who venture into the

Empty streets of commerce

Bringing food to those of us with money – to eat

But, the natural world wants us

To open our eyes

She wants us apart enough

To see those lives

That will never change – even with

A conquered virus

She wants us to see the fallacy of

Putting profit before people

She wants us to see those

Who have always been

Quarantined by poverty

In spirit and in purse

Yes, the world has reset.

Sadly, the culling

Won’t be equitable

 

Reset people

Reset!

 

Another Turkey Day : Another Fight

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I’ve had many Thanksgivings in my lifetime – 64 to be exact. Some Thanksgivings were solemn while some were in need of police intervention. This Thanksgiving, I vow to not argue, fight, or suffer even the slightest guilt over the kind of turkey that will be consumed by my family. I won’t.

From my working-class childhood to my middle-class life in the hinterlands of western New York, I’ve learned that a turkey, any turkey, even just the smell of a roasting turkey is a must. I’ve come to this conclusion via my mom who would, surveying her kitchen early Thursday morning, pronounce the beginning of the holiday by saying, “Let’s get this place smelling like Thanksgiving.” And so she would.

We live in interesting times when it comes to the food we put on our plates. I’ve suffered the slings and arrows shot from the self-righteous and well heeled. And I’ve walked through a Whole Foods store. So I think I understand the vaygeshray that surrounds the argument between the factory-farmed turkeys and those birds who’ve been raised in the weedless fields of the free-range mind. Suffering. It’s all about suffering.

The Thanksgivings of my childhood were only fraught with decisions around frozen vs. non-frozen and the turkey’s weight – questions easily answered by my parent’s current budget. Today, one can run from pillar to post in attempts to be politically correct and can, after taking out a second mortgage on one’s home, get the totally natural turkey; one that slept on down comforters and was fed on manna dropped from the hands various gods of free-range practices. And so, for more than a few years, my husband and I opted for the expensive, middle-class-guilt reducing bird that needed the strength and precision of Seal-team 6 to cut through. But hey, the bird didn’t suffer. It could hardly have suffered as much as we did – chewing, chewing, and chewing on what seemed like the dusty, original, leather-bound edition of Moby Dick!

So, this Thursday I vow (in honor of my late mom) to get up early and get my house “…smelling like Thanksgiving.” I will give thanks for the many blessings that have been bestowed upon me and mine. Also, I will acknowledge the original (yet unspoken) theft this holiday commemorates with an apology for the suffering of native Americans – a suffering that gets lost in the concern for an ugly bird that we will slice and dice with impunity. And after all of this, I will gladly testify before the senate committee on turkey injustice. I will raise my right hand, and swear to tell the truth before all the gods of political correctness that, yes, I bought a commercial, salt injected bird at 89¢ a pound. A bird that probably gobbled horribly as it was being killed; a bird that may have had siblings that hated him or her for a fat-breasted success; a bird that had no idea what a future was or that there was a senate committee committed to his or her happiness. Yes, I ate such a bird and I found it – GOOD.

THE STORY OF US

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Speaking of time, I took a course

To sate curiosity

Just how someone else believes

Our super species came to be

~

The Story of Us told online

Puts to rest the tooth & nail

Survival, fittest at the top

of the mountain from which we hail

~

Twas not the ax or large of tooth

That got us to the peak

Sizeless and vulnerable all we had

Was our ability to speak

~

A warring species we overcame

Doubt and annihilation

With voice and reason we invented

Inner-species cooperation

~

No easy ride to top of the chain

Even so it happened fast

Early sapiens frightened sheep

How long could this good thing last

~

Doubt returned to fortify

Ourselves against the other

We don the pelt and tooth of wolf

Taking aim against our brother

~

Now we strut our claws and fangs

To intimidate the weak

What’s more dangerous than angry wolves?

Frightened, heavily armed sheep

SPRING – Vol. II

Swans overhd

Comes in on muddy skids

Ignoring the calendar

Shaving its low gray brow

Undercover of a high cloudy sky

Wet with anticipation

It comes in when you see & hear

The great white flock

Of tundra swans

Trailed by a few dark geese all

Bellowing goodbyes

From overhead

 It comes

The day you’ve had enough of

Of ice and frozen bones

The day you refuse to acquiesce

To your bed until the sun breaks the spell

Shaking off the coldest month

In the history of keeping warm

 It comes

The day you throw

Off winter covers & sing songs

Warm enough to overtake

The sorrow that is homemade

And unnecessary

 

THE LIFE LIMITED

train head-on

Not the express

The one gladly missed

Dawdling on life’s platform

Counting cars

Windows flashing light

Quick, dark faces inert

Blank stare ahead

Glimpsing the gold

Coins of paradise

Gone too soon

We, unhurried & unnoticed

Age and wisdom

In separate cars

On that same track

Tearing through

A landscape of

Scattered grace

The Beloved Monster

lake

Walking against the wind

Off the lake slows my pace

I consider the remnants of

The coldest February on record

The receding snow

Pulling back from last night’s rain

Leaving molded columns of

Autumn’s leaves

Along the road

Heaped dirty and waiting huge

Ice & snow mounds long since

Spent of fun and wonder that

Came new last December

March is here with its uneven

Message: promises of what might be

The patches of green

Slicing white winter

Mocking romantic winter havens

Warmth upended with

The old wooden mailbox

After the passing of

The beloved monster

Patron saint of the winter road:

The snowplow

KITE SEASON

kite

Happiness builds a fast fire
Underfoot the running child
In fields wild with flowers
Laughing, some unknown joy,
That life will be good

Happiness forces arms open
New experience
Embracing daring
Nothing but youth

Before receding to the corners
Beaten back by the collected ticks
A clock and a heart weary
Holding happiness at bay

Then comes
The thumping hush
That muscle upon which
Nothing is lost

Rolling and dipping
Tethered calmly against
Winds of age & change:

Happiness,
Flying its own kite