I agree, but am wearying to say, “we’re in it together,” since we didn’t get a vote. I’m sick of “pandemic” (so I turned it into faux profanity–pan*****),”Covid-19,” coronavirus,” and “webinar.” I don’t like where we are, but left that emotion aside in the press of survival. I did a series of “Pandemic Haiku” earlier, but turn today to a bit of escapist verse. Among my Christian friends (most of mine are of the less literalistic and more reflective types), it is helpful to find Biblical imagery–the exile, an apt one, with its sense of jarring losses and displacement. It’s too simplistic to go straight for the apocalyptic–apocalypticism was a minority tool in the ancient box that people take out in times like these. Dystopian imagery, though, is like a long train ride with Obadiah in the Hebrew scriptures (it’s short, give it a read). We yank it out of the box the way my Dad used to call his hammer a “North Carolina screwdriver” and cram every disaster into the Rapture box. It may get the job done, but leaves holes in the wall. Humor, though, is of great use for this moment. Just as it is in grief–without stories that make us smile, or fond memories, the waves of sorrow would drown us. In grief as in life, it not a straight line of morbidity, but the ocean of feelings, good, bad and otherwise. So, two more little poems. I can’t help it. They just pop out. Whether they spread uncontrollably is, well, not up to me. Maybe a smile amid the little glimmers of loss that intrude on the day. There’s so much to grieve, so maybe a little dark humor helps.
Everywhere you go, even though you affect everyone around you
and millions of people fear you and know your name,
that the whole world hates you and wants you to die.
It’s not like you had a great start—born of a bat-bite
In a filthy wet market.
You were bound to be wild.
You make people sick.
Your existence is one relationship to the next
And everything you touch is diminished or dies.
Mercifully, you don’t have a heart, a brain,
Feelings, sensitivity or the need to be loved.
Just a bit of genetic goop
Moving from one to the next
you fever-giving, life sucking, lung-clogging little covid—
Just go away already. Nobody likes you.
Untold Tales from the Exile
We heard from Jeremiah
Ezekiel and all the rest
about Bubonic Babylonians
come to tear apart the nest.
They marched the poor Judeans
into exile to be stuck,
but were there smaller stories
that never made the final cut?
Did they form support groups
like “Babylonian 101”
Did parents tell kids stories
about the old folks back home?
Did their children stomp and refuse to go
when Cyrus sent them home
because they wished to graduate
with their friends in Babylon?
Was there graffiti on the hallowed
Hanging Garden walls that said
“Nabonidus is a doo doo brain”
and “Marduk is dead”?
Were there articles in Exile Daily
to help the refugees
adjust to the new normal
of life as minority?
These are the stories I’d like to find,
but they’re probably hid from view
swept away by history
as my poetry will be, too.