Pandemic—One Poet’s Moment


In this quagmire of a virus

That spreads like quicksilver

Over the country     everywhere

Yes     even before here

The world

I would write of the sadness

Concern that borders fear

Inside me

I feel with my every breath

But words are no longer

Liquid

They wrap themselves around

Tears

That speak for them

In inarticulate language

I struggle to express

 

In these weeks of reported

Illness

Reported deaths

Numbers fall into thousands

Thousands

Beyond my ability to conceive

This is real

I pray for them

Pray for the Light of the Universe

To surround every hospital

Every blessed one that cares

For the ill

Closes the eyes of the dead

Alone     alone     alone

Their families

With the rest of us

Sequestered now

At home     at home

 

-2-

Every morning

I open the shutters

Of my bedroom windows

To look up

Into the sky

Is it clear     or covered

With clouds

Is the distant hill

Distinct     or shrouded in mist

Each day is of itself

Hour follows hour

It is as it has always

Been

 

One morning

I look     I see

A new leaf     then another

And another

On the bare branches

Of the Crepe Myrtle

It is late March

Time for new leaves

To arrive on this tree

 

And they do

For everything there is a season
And a time for every matter
Under heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3.1

Truth to Tell

I Love these days

Letting go their light

Into a darkening sky

Late in an autumn’s

Afternoon

As the sun descends

Over the waiting ocean

Sends its final rays

Against the side

Of a distant hill

A canvas for many shades

Of mauve

That signal the end

Of day

 

I love the hints of

Coming night

Street lights on

House windows lit from

Within

Are there children

Around a kitchen table

Heads bent over books

Pencils in hands

Logs in a fireplace

Ready to burn away

A season’s chill

 

Then images of the many

With no place of their

Own

Nowhere to go

Push their way into my

Thoughts

Of home     of comfort

Full bellies

Stark realities of days

Growing shorter     nights longer

Colder

It is a duality of feelings

Inside me

Long in my life

Have I Loved fall’s dwindling

Days

Loved a friendly dark

Closing in

But there are two sides

To this picture

I would it were not

So

Would it were not

So

Not so

For Now

I cannot put my words

Together

It is as if they are trapped

Inside my brain

Words I need

To express my distress

Feelings of disbelief

And if I am truthful

Horror

At what is being allowed

In the unraveling of my country’s

Beingness

I cannot get the words out

Write them down

Will have to let other voices

Be heard

Other voices exclaim

The anger     bewilderment

Outrage

Like silt building up

In the pristine waters

Of a mountain stream

I will listen

Follow where they lead

Trusting it be

Into the light of reason

Again

 

For now

My hibiscus blooms large scarlet discs

Under my window

 

For now

I watch crazy flights

Of a Phoebe bird

As it snaps up insects

On the wing

Am mesmerized

By these different sized evergreens

On a hill

Above the Camino Real

Swaying as one

In the wind

 

For now

Music     laughter

Kind voices from anyone

Anywhere

Human and animal

Voices of my children

My True Love

Sounds from my own world

The only real word now

For me

Clouds …

… My ever moving art gallery

My daily weather report

It matters not where I am

In the comfort of home

A car on the freeway

Among other drivers

The slow     the speeders     motorcycles

That startle as they roar

Past

My attention is out the

Window

My eyes on the sky

 

Clouds are like people

Like everything in the natural

World

Different shapes

Colors

Different purposes of existence

Exuding an aura of diversity

Like everything alive on earth

Diversity is life

 

As a child

I imagined myself lying down

On big white puffy comforter

Clouds

But never on those forecasting

Storms

Darkly ominous blankets of solid gray

Over my head

Then rushing across the sky

Pushed by erratic winds

Still drawing my eyes upwards

Always upwards

 

Nothing has changed

Clouds     my ever moving art gallery

My daily weather report

Awake each morning

I open the shutters

Look through branches

Of the Sycamore     Crepe Myrtle tress

To find the clouds

Only to discover     now and then

The sun has risen on this day

Into a cloudless blue sky

 

Spring

Today

The first day of spring

Already Sycamore births her

Small green leaves

That will evolve into larger leaves

Adorning her branches

Until far into fall

Then drop     one by one

Slowly to the ground

I cannot remember the song

From the very first robin

Singing its arrival

Early in an Illinois spring

Its song brought me joy

After a long cold snowy

Winter

California springs brought

Mockingbirds

Their songs ringing out

Through the Myoporum

Over the canyons

Then eerily at midnight

Into the early hours

Of the new day

I’d hear their trills

I miss that first robin

I miss the mockingbirds

Heralding spring for me

The air around me feels silent

Save the lone mourning dove

Who calls     calls     calls

No one answers

Then

Mating season for crows

Arrives

Their squawking voices

A different harbinger

That spring is here

I tell myself

They too

Are of the natural world

For I am given

Love everyone everything

Yes

Even noisy crows

Three Poems – Plus One

The Sycamore’s dried leaves

Of burnished gold

Hang expectantly

From their branches

Ready to fall

Onto the waiting

Ground

***

January cold

Wraps itself around

Southern California

From my window

Three plants

Bitten by frost

In the night

Their leaves shriveled

Browned

On emaciated stalks

In shocking contrast

Green leaves on the hibiscus

Live     untouched

***

You live in my heart

Little girl     little boy

Never forgotten

Children

Walking to freedom

From Guatemala

Die in Mexico

At the border

Denied America     forever

***

Like a flock of songbirds

All colors     all sizes

My children     my grandchildren

Gather around me

A few precious

Hours

We eat     we sing     we laugh

Until they fly away

Again

And I am left

To sing their songs

Alone

When Leaves Fall From the Trees

The Crepe Myrtle’s leaves

Turn golden

As they let go their branches

Fall to the ground

Lie close to each other

A carpet of gold

Then scatter in the night

When rains finally

Come

 

Sycamore begins dropping her

Leaves

Before Halloween

Such a large tree

Has more to drop

Then the Crepe Myrtle

And any of their neighbor’s

Sycamore leaves

Lie on the ground

Different shapes

Different sizes

I see them

As miniature sculptures

No two alike

 

I want to let go

Of bewilderment

Of despair I feel

From the chaos

Invading the life

Blood

In the government

Of my country

Stress I hear

In voices around me

Everywhere I go

I want to drop my worries

My heart’s concerns

Like leaves

Falling from the trees

To the welcoming

Ground

Not to resist

What is

And know with

Trust

This too must

Pass

A Different Light

Light from this day

Recedes

Into approaching dusk

I watch it clinging

Still

To green leaves of the

Crepe Myrtle

To scarlet blossoms

On the hibiscus

The far off hills

And as it darkens

Out my window

 

Inside my room

The bedside lamp is

Lit

Creating a different

Light

Mellow warmth

Caresses the walls

And a feeling of being

Cocooned    shielded

From political storms

Settles in me

As I greet the coming

Night

In grateful    Peace

 

 

 

A Silent Encounter

 

The day is overcast

Sunless

Not unusual for Arcata

A town in Northern California

Blessed with Redwood Trees

Twenty miles south

Of the Oregon border

Where we walk the path

Around the lagoon

Of the Arcata Marsh

Looking for herons

Ducks     egrets

And other birds

That come and go

With seasons of the

Year

 

Tall reeds wave in the breeze

From the water

Bushes     small trees

Grow everywhere we walk

Framing the gravel path

That now leads us

Almost full circle to where

We began

And there     in the middle

Of the path

Stands a giant white egret

Like a spotlight

Its brilliant white

Shines in our eyes

Still as a statue

It signals

Come no closer

We wait

Still as the egret

But take our fill of observation

Never before so close to

Perfection

 

The egret turns around

The giant wings reach out

Fold in again

Then making an obvious decision

It walks regally into the waiting

Water

 

We remain motionless

In wonder

With gratitude

Then walk the rest of the way

To our car

Drive home in the gray light

With the memory of a brilliant

White blessing

“Arcata Marsh” by Brian McQueen www.McQueenArt.com

 

 

 

Spring

My dear

Spring is come

The sycamore    the Crepe Myrtle

Both birthing their new leaves

Roses in their garden

Bloom again

Recovered from their pruning

 

I miss mating of the

Mockingbirds

Scolding squawks claiming

Territories

Music of their calls

Resounding down the canyon walls

Around us

They have disappeared from my

Life

 

My dear

Do you remember spring

In Illinois

The ancient lilac bush

We transplanted

From the farm

Across from us on McCree

Road

Its house torn down

Making way

For a crop of new houses

Remember

We let the hose drip water

Two whole days     two whole nights

Around her roots

Praying she’d survive

She did     bloomed so faithfully

Sending the delicious scent

Of her blooms

Into our bedroom window

 

Oh     I welcome spring

In California

But mourn the ancient

Lilac bush

No flowered fragrance

Will ever fill her place