This all happened because everybody started getting sick and then dying, so then we were told that we should shelter in place, quarantine ourselves in isolation, and only go out for essential things, like bread and milk before a big snowstorm. Being seventy-six and subject to infection anyway, due to medication I take to alleviate arthritis (a comorbidity), I did as I was told. Anyway, going anywhere was a pain at the time because you were asked to wear a mask wherever you went, and doing so always fogged up my glasses, which made it hard to see to walk or drive.
You’d think this would be a great time to play guitar, which I do, and for a while I did, but then I found myself playing increasingly less, and finally quit altogether early last fall. I’m still not sure why that happened, but I suspect some of it had to do with being bored with my music, and some of it had to do with not feeling the need to keep up my chops since I wasn’t able to go anywhere where people could hear me. I didn’t (and still don’t) Zoom, which became all the online rage. Anyway, the world as we knew it was falling apart before our eyes, both politically and medically, so what difference did music make, when we’d all be dead or overthrown soon?
To amuse myself, I began to write more, and decided to create a new form, one that seemed appropriate for the times. Something short and pithy, food for thought that would be open to interpretation, but that, just for the hell of it, followed at least one hard and fast rule, because it seemed that everything should have at least one hard and fast rule. So I started writing what I called haik.
Haik is derived from haiku, the form perfected by the Japanese and practiced universally, or at least all over this planet. In my research, I even discovered a conclave of haiku writers in a city only about an hour away from me (which, these days, might as well be on the dark side of the moon).
There are a lot of rules and expectations about how haiku should be structured and presented, and that’s all fine, but I was only interested in the one hard and fast rule, which seemed to be that a haiku should be expressed in one breath, so I decided that
haik is traditional haiku, but with shortness of breath.
By the way, the above is a haik. There may well be other haiks, occurring in other parts of these works, and I suppose a really fun exercise would be to scan this entire document for other haiks I unintentionally made (somebody will need to create an algorithm for that), so all haiks that are present would be accounted for. Hey, if you’re an avid fan and somewhat obsessive, go for it. You can contact me through my website to give me the details.
I’ll no doubt offer you some further explication about haiks, mostly in haiks, when we get to the haiks subsection, which will be soon.
And then there’s some other stuff I wrote, which either wouldn’t fit into a haik form no matter how hard I tried to mash it into one (or more; more about that later), or which started off life as something that was non-haikian and I just let them go where they wanted. They may or may not be worth anything; that’s for you to decide.
But then, isn’t everything?
A Brief Collection of Haik Written Through the Pandemic
At a time when pretty much the entire human population of the world was coming down with a virus that affected an individual’s ability to breathe, it seemed to me that any new literary form that reflected this time would have to be sayable in one breath, and that getting a proper breath actually was the biggest problem of the day. So haiku, which has become commonly lodged in works of seventeen beats, or syllables, whenever it is written or spoken, might just be too long to say in these times. Looking for that one hard and fast rule, I decided that pandemic
haik is like traditional haiku with shortness of breath
which is only fourteen syllables long (as is the title of this section). That’s it: the one hard and fast rule. Anything longer or shorter isn’t a haik.
There are a bunch of other rules that guide haiku: it is traditionally composed in three lines, one of five beats (my word for syllables), then one of seven beats, and a final line of five beats. In addition, a proper haiku should be grounded in imagery drawn from nature, should emphasize imagery over exposition, should avoid simile and metaphor, and should convey a wistful tone with impressionistic brevity. Finally, it should somehow be composed in two sections (although these aren’t created as distinct stanzas) that point out some correlation between two subjects, such as between a natural and a man-made object or situation.
I decided to dispense with all that, at least as far as compositional rules are concerned. To me, a haik is a short reflection of a mind at work, and the haik itself reflects what the mind is working on. Thus
haik: a nontraditional haiku with shortness of breath
And that’s really about it. What follows are two sections: the first is one of haiks that address what haiks are and how they might be written, and the second is haiks I created over the past year of the plague.
Haik: A Definition and Some Notes on How to Write Them
Writing: one part inspiration, nine parts perspiration.
An aphorism is a pithy statement that rings true.
The rhythm and rhyme of poetry quite appeals to me.
The haik I like best to write is the kind that makes me think.
Haik: a self-contained thought of fourteen beats, all in one breath.
If all I get is just one breath, then I must breathe deeply.
Fun House Mirrors
Haiklets are couplets, each its own, skewed to one another.
Skewed: reflected, refracted, proposed, opposed, congruent.
Haik chains are bike chains: each link its own, all together one.
Locked haik are still-intact links fashioned into one whole chain.
Unlocked haik are but broken links forged into one whole chain.
Fun and Games
Haik chains are chutes dropping to the very bottom of things.
Haik chains are ladders climbing to greater understanding.
Haik chains: stakes in the ground, invisible wires between them.
Good haiks are stakes in the ground with barbed wire strung between them.
Haik chains are spiderwebs strung across pathways, snaring prey.
Haik chains are electric fences, keeping in, keeping out.
In a haik, punctuation can make all the difference.
Haik chains: punctuation doesn’t count, makes a difference.
Contractions shrink, conjugations expand what can be said.
Contractions save syllables; lack of them do not so much.
Colons and semicolons provide good breaks in chained haik.
Haik is a semipermeable state of well-being.
Haik is both prosaic sense and poetic imagery.
Haiks are land mines: step on one to explode your consciousness.
Unlike in poetry, line breaks here signify no shift.
Here the line breaks are for visual purposes only.
Haiks require you to articulate ev’ry syllable.
To fit, many syllables in haiks require truncation.
Contractions and conjunctions offer great haik truncations.
Contractions shrink, conjunctions grow: haik manipulations.
Writing haik requires you make any function fit the form.
Phrasing may vary as long as the meaning stays the same.
What do I mean by that? That phrasing doesn’t matter so much?
The meaning is the meat; everything else is just garnish.
Still, phrasing adds spice, some sides, and maybe even dessert.
Make each of your haiks a simple, healthy, nourishing feast.
Any good form can be modified to make it better.
The gist is in the jism stored in the nut of the haik.
Pandemic Haik (In the Order in Which They Were Conceived)
Infinite patience produces immediate results.
The Bear Facts
The shouting marigold disturbs the hibernating bear.
Dancing bears may be gratefully dead, but not forgotten.
Your sweet, low chariot’s here, ready to carry you home.
It’s departure time; where are your people, your tribe, your own?
Gone to masks, latex gloves, and social distance, ev’ry one.
Shortness of breath: a sign of personal impending doom.
What the fuck do you think you’re doing, breaking into here?
Who the hell do you think you are, breaking in on my self?
The Beat Goes On
Undirected consciousness can lead to undirected …
Birth, growth, wit, hope, joy, fear, thoughts, hate, war, peace, grace, speech, art, death …
The last, lost word in the ones above? None other than love.
This is unsatisfactory – a list inspires no lust.
Consider the possibility: there is no last word.
Shortness of breath is an existential state of being.
The best way to stay safe is to quarantine from all life.
To quarantine from all of life is to negate your own.
The Last Word
The last word we are all looking for just might be amen.
Then again, the last word we’re looking for might be goodbye.
Coming or going, the right word might just be aloha.
If it weren’t for the distractions of the news, I’d be dead.
We’re not just one-trick ponies, just best at one at a time.
When called to action, I can’t think of any worth taking.
Frogs are heard in the underbrush, but rarely in plain sight.
(for my oldest grandson):
May your next birthday be in the presence of all your friends.
Do all creatures breathe? Could we exist without doing it?
The body goes for what it wants, no matter what you will.
The bots are about to replace us unless we stop them.
Because I never break up my mind, I don’t multitask.
If there’s a heaven, can I Google directions to it?
Equality: black lives won’t matter until all lives do.
Grey light: clarity of steel; orange glow: patina of age.
Sunset – orange and grey – brings to a close yet another day.
The perfect place for me to die is right here in my home.
Boring life? Spread some shiny glitter on the dull matter.
The best bouquet of picked words is what brings the most delight.
Cough your brains out; clear your head of all presupposition.
If you construct your own reality, what will it be?
Masturbation is touching yourself when you are lonely.
Can You Hear Me Now?
If a tree falls in the forest, something aural happens.
There is rarely ever any total absence of sound.
Circling the Drain
Brevity is often what makes any statement pithy.
Is brevity, then, only pithy? Can it be whimsy?
A mayfly has a life of both brevity and whimsy.
(Longevity, brevity, whimsey: recycle these.
The brevity of longevity is a mystery.
The brevity of longevity is its misery.
Brevity’s longevity is mystery’s misery.
Longevity’s brevity is misery’s mystery.
Are all of these simply nothing more than redundancies?)
Contemporary life has both brevity and whimsey.
Contemporary life has brevity and mystery.
Contemporary life: brevity and some misery.
Enough already with all this brevity’s levity!
Was this long-lasting run a burst of creativity?
Has this burst been creativity, or morbidity?
These days, both possibilities seem real, and not flimsy.
Wiley Coyote ran straight off the edge of history.
Speak your mind; otherwise, you’re just a parrot of others.
Some lizards can regrow their severed tails (,) up to a point.
Two different slants depend on (c)omission of comma.
By teaching others, you will learn the subject for yourself.
Your attempt to teach others will teach you not to bother.
What purpose drives this propulsion into isolation?
Can any cure really be worse than the disease? Or death?
Lotteries: worthwhile only if you win more than you spend.
The Cutting Edge
My podiatrist is the beefy sort, tan, thick blond hair
trimmed meticulously. He talks to me about his yard,
whacking the borders, shearing the shrubbery, all as he
scrapes the bunion on the ball of my foot with what appears
to be a ten-blade. After, walking to the parking lot,
blood dimples my sock a certain crimson shade. Once I’m home,
cocoa butter stems the flow. I know this somewhat minor
surgery was required, I know the pain’s for my own good;
sore on my shorn pin, I wish it had been a last resort.
It seems much like a slip out of time to turn on a dime.
The big moment of truth always seems to slip out of time.
Musicality will eventually come to me.
The Only Reason
The only reason to follow your dream is to catch it.
The only reason to follow your urge is to quench it.
Do you want to make your stain on the bedcovers of life?
Do you want the stain on your life to be just yours alone?
Shit and piss certainly go together, but who needs them?
Each of us must find his or her own voice; more so writers.
To be unique, each writer must find a distinctive voice.
How to listen to “your own voice” when all of them are yours?
Voices tell me what to write; sometimes I don’t listen well.
Is an “authentic voice” typically male or female?
Can a disembodied voice still be an authentic one?
By a mighty river, he sells small bottles of water.
By a muddy river, he sells bottles of clear water.
Thoughts evolve. Surf the current by hanging ten on their waves.
To tell another can be to make it true for yourself.
The only true thing is that everything is uncertain.
Working from Home
Grey and orange flecks, clouds dapple the flanks of the setting sun.
Workhorse in the fields all day, plodding for night in the barn.
The oats in the trough feed his need; the straw is soft for sleep.
He’ll rise tomorrow at dawn, get ready to rinse, repeat.
Time for Changin’
Bony fingers of cloud pluck the sleeve of the setting sun.
The helmsman and crew get ready for the long midnight run.
At stake is freedom from bondage to a dead albatross.
Right-winged, it can’t begin to comprehend our sense of loss.
We now all need a new morning of great promise to come.
The machinery of silence whirs beneath the surface.
It’s not so silent after all. Once more it tries and fails.
Life: calamities of sundry order and magnitude.
To quarantine from all of life is to negate your own.
Is your existence sufficient reason to cling to life?
(Is life sufficient reason to cling to your existence?)
Is your existence worthy enough to cling to in life?
(If no existence, you live no worthy alternative.)
What makes us think we can take the measure of anything?
The moon on the water breaks into smiles along the shore.
At The Cape
Sunlight dappled on seawater is a welcome cliché.
It’s nice, sitting by a breakwater, reading poetry.
It’s even much better, my love, having you here with me.
My wish is to greet this way the coming eternity.
A kitten’s delight is a dangling ball of loose knitting.
My whistling through the graveyard makes sense only to the dead.
The breath of my life portrays that I don’t belong here yet.
But if I keep on keepin’ on, always feeding my head,
soon enough, that whistling breath that is my life might depart.
Since I’ve purchased no home here, I’ll panhandle on the street.
No lord peers over me, I try to do it all myself.
9/11 @ 19
Twin towers, willows in the wind, still fall in the mind’s eye.
Two beams of light, anguished cries, arise in the empty sky.
Discontinued names, like fallen bodies, float to the ground.
How many more will there be, fallen in memoriam?
My rheumatologist is short and small, but mighty.
Thanks for shepherding such good care of my remaining days.
Smoking pot is my one true pleasure now that I am old.
If I am dying soon, I might as well enjoy the ride.
Time’s a well still brimming, even after we dip our cup.
Will we ever be capable of lapping it all up?
Time is a mass grave, shallow and wide, for our hopes and dreams.
On the other hand, time will erase our most grievous sins.
Changing the Guard
My hands just won’t comprehend playing guitar much these days.
Instead, they’d rather clutch a pen, to see what I might say.
My innards Day-Glo in CAT-scan juice of pearlescent grey.
My aorta and prostate are both enlarged on display.
The first of concern, the second not; I’m old already.
Polyps found in my lymph nodes, lungs; otherwise, I’m okay.
Repeat in six months? Time to assess the costly copay.
There are no memories here; I’m still busy living them.
If life isn’t what you thought it would be, then go change it.
Easy enough maybe to do, but not in retrospect.
You can’t relive the past; try to see it ahead of time.
Learning as you go, but too late to make a difference.
Only hindsight is twenty-twenty; I just plain can’t see.
I see perfectly clearly what is right in front of me.
After all, what else could there ever be for me to see?
If it’s not obvious to me, it doesn’t stand a chance.
I don’t have an inclination for covert or askance.
Why should I spend all of my time second-guessing it now?
We have no way of knowing which way is best going on.
All we can possibly do is take our shot in the dark.
Our view obscured, we just have to hope we can hit our mark.
Lack of proper disposal leads to more to dispose of.
My garbage disposal is dead, and soon my sink will clog.
There’s nothing more to say about the fact that we’re dying.
Then again, the conversation is so interesting.
There’s actually so much to explore, so keep talking.
Philosophy of death is fascinating, we agree.
To talk more, we must keep on breathing, but that’s just the point.
(If indeed there’s really no point, then why bother at all?
Because doing so passes well the time left to us here.
And if we have to pass the time, let’s at least make it fun.)
Contemplating death in the abstract is just fine with me.
Experiencing death in the concrete? Let’s wait and see.
Talk is cumulative, so haiks are always unfinished.
Further discussion will require contiguous wordplay.
Cumulative contiguity does suit me quite well.
Cumulative contiguity: piling it all on.
Piling it on is nothing more than further bullshitting.
Thus I may well become nothing more than further bullshit.
Natural selection favors the already select.
Manifest destiny leads straight to inequality.
Inequality tells all parties that it’s meant to be.
So the cycle repeats itself, even if circumspect.
My dentist of forty-six years decides she will retire.
Her news comes just as my last tooth on frat house row expires.
My primary care physician writes he no longer cares.
His leadership and family roles will take him elsewhere.
This as my body shows its first signs of advancing age.
To my health team, I’ve become collateral damage.
Maybe now the time has come to target me with a drone.
It might be better than living on, suffering alone.
What difference does it make whether or not I am here?
The point of any life is to get in and then get out.
But, along the way, make something wonderful of myself.
Better to make a memory than already be one.
Here’s your belated birthday, Christmas, and housewarming gift.
Buy a shiny guitar or maybe your own bedroom set.
And recognize that all these haiks are composed just for this.
Note on an empty chair by the window in the stairway:
Leave me here. Leave me out. Leave me, now. Please, leave me alone.
How do we know anything about what we know? Who knows?
Epistemology is understanding the brain’s scheme.
Life is a stroke of passion, reason, and, possibly, luck.
What does it matter how on earth we got here, anyway?
Pussy riots are metaphorical motherfuckers.
Why does God need a cosmos? Doesn’t he have a laptop?
Why does God need a universe? A good laptop would do.
A rant, chant, or rap. There’s no way of telling what’s on tap.
A rant. A chant. A rap. A load of crap. That’s what’s on tap.
What’s next on tap? Oh, yeah, the coronavirus vaccine.
Here I sit, lost in the dark, trying still to find my spark.
I’m chained to my desk by the paperwork I must do here.
Work that can be done anywhere can’t be much work at all.
I wouldn’t call what’s done here making too much of a mark.
Plague Thanksgiving: canned soup in an apartment by myself.
The less likely I’ll make it, the sooner I’ll get the shot.
Pandemic plague vaccine: live long enough to get the shot.
Lost in Translation
The best parts of good fiction are what many call fake news.
Fake news is the fiction we spread to reveal the real truth.
Smoking pot makes my lungs work all the harder to keep up.
Happy Birthday, Li’l Bro. Hope this virus is kind to you.
The lonely desperation of too much time by myself.
With only my own voice heard, I’m easily led astray.
Th best I can do for now is stay quiet in one place.
Solitude is often too overcrowded for my health.
Hematology: the study of why your blood’s fucked up.
Otolaryngology: ear, nose, throat’s fancy new face.
I find I’m allergic to polysyllabic games, names.
Home for the Holidays
Holiday plague protocol: merry and happy alone.
Have a merry little and happy new yada yada.
The gift of distance, the space between, brings us safely home.
(What do space and distance have to do with home, anyway?
Isn’t safely home where the heart is now supposed to be?)
Have a merry and a happy, alone or together.
May peace on earth and good will for all somehow still shine through.
Respect your elders, judge your peers, suffer little children.
Respect your elders for getting as far as they now have.
Suffer the little children; they are wholly innocent.
If they are not innocent, they are not wholly children.
I have neither use for nor tolerance of being here.
My only regret is doing too little to regret.
My inhaler lets me keep polluting my tired old lungs.
What’s the point in breathing if you still can’t be smoking pot?
Have a socially distant, plague quarantined New Year’s Eve!
With no one in Times Square at New Year, can the ball still drop?
There is no color in the sky except the shade I paint.
Drab and wan, I wait for the skies to be partly sunny.
We’ll have sunny weather as long as we stick together.
Happy trails to you all alone, until we meet again.
Cloudy, with a chance of melancholy over past times.
Thunderheads pile up in the sky; there’s a chance of a storm.
All one can hope is there is still a rainbow at the end.
Beware of the machinery that’s behind the curtain.
Click together your ruby slippers and say “There’s no place ...”
For home is just a big tornado, where it all began.
The real thing is only worth it once talking about it.
May I never be unable to get to my own feet.
Stuck in one place, no matter how nice, can become boring.
It’s not the place that grows boring, but the person in it.
Fascination: watching places and people interact.
There is no uniformity of color in my sky.
Multiple brushstrokes and overlaps mar my creation.
Oh, Lawd, just do me one favor: Let me keep on truckin’.
In return, I promise I won’t mess with that policeman.
Pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps means wearing boots.
Going up on pointe too often will just destroy the point.
Checking in to see what condition your condition’s in.
Purple: a red alert to code blue in the twilight zone.
The threadbare events of my day crowd my vision at night.
Old acquaintances are soon forgotten because we’re old.
Making simple sense is sometimes the best that I can do.
The facts without context are misleading information.
Some stuff I write is filled with mayhem, death, and steep despair.
But if life is so much fun, then what’s the point in longing?
I’m still here, stuck in the traffic of human existence.
The sheer boredom of this moment deepens into despair.
Hey! How are you today? I’ve been thinking of you, by the way.
I’m alright, despite what anybody says about me.
There’s pain in my joints, but no point complaining of it now.
My weight loss is still unexplained, but there’s hope for me yet.
My mind’s still sharp as a tack, but now what’s the point of that?
But otherwise, and thanks for asking, I’m still just truckin’.
At this point, I downshift from one abyss to another.
I just hope I don’t expire when no one else is looking.
At the crossroads, take the forsaken left against the light.
My mind is a fox’s paw caught in the jaws of a trap.
These circumstances change it into a crazed howling wolf.
To create art, tap the reservoir of your memory.
Changing the Guard
Inauguration was today; a new guy has his say.
Night or day, it’s all the same, here in Lockdown, U.S.A.
Try giving justification to the pandemic dead.
A shot in the arm promises a renewed lease on life.
Will any renewed lease on my life still be rent-controlled?
Dying is not rationalization for not trying.
Try to offer a rationalization for dying.
Circumstantial rationalization abounds in life.
Losing My Marbles
I keep bumping into words, like marbles on the playground.
Oh, for some aggies and a bag, and a decent shooter.
Best intentions are just accidents waiting to happen.
Coincidences: explained away by variables.
Would you give up a piece of yourself for someone you love?
When the whole is greater than the summed parts, give up a piece.
A man with no regrets was probably bored with his life.
A man with no regrets will come to regret having none.
Of all the animals, I’d most prefer to be a sloth.
My thoughts are elsewhere, somewhere in an alien kingdom.
Speak little, for in this world there is not much worth saying.
Why spend time searching for an imperfect world’s perfect word?
The power of words is in their common meaning to all.
Life: Turn on. Tune in/out. Mind the gap. Crime scene. Closed ahead.
I have a vaccination date; it’s a fortnight away.
I do so hope I live until my vaccination day.
There’s a fortnight away until my vaccination day.
It’s so far into the future; I hope I live to it.
Imagine if every child wore a tracking device.
It might take an entire village to monitor a child.
I pay guitar to express the work of other artists.
My guitar playing is not an expression of myself.
Only here, within the limits of a haik, am I me.
Do doctors practice medicine so they can get better?
For sale: blue suede baby shoes. One size fits all. Never worn.
My daughter, who’s a teacher, sees some plague-infested kids.
I don’t, but since I’m old, I’ll get the vaccine before her.
This is such a clear case of age before necessity.
Better to inoculate the young than preserve the old.
This damn pandemic redefines being a Valentine.
Hearts and flowers still beat face masks and hand sanitizer.
Once upon a time, I thought of you in the wrong places.
Now, just please be my platonic pandemic Valentine.
Believe in yourself, and dance like no one’s even looking.
(As I cleaned out my desk, I found this from so long ago:)
Love like you’ve never been hurt, and dance like no one’s watching.
Age doesn’t protect you from love, but love just might from age.
Love doesn’t protect you from age; age often does from love.
Her kneecap bounced his balls; she fast-broke them for a layup.
Why are redundancies often seen as profundities?
If you say it often enough, people will believe it.
Don’t look under your nose; you might trip on the truth you see.
To make America great again, let’s clean up the shit.
The Five Senses
Various strains of good pot affect me differently.
There is one that colors sound and heightens me aurally.
Another always animates me most visually.
A third makes me a motor-mouth, performing orally.
Fortunately, none of them yet affect me rectally.
The problem, letting your mind wander, is with where it goes.
The New Normal
Our state of health this past year: sickness, death, decay, despair.
I so hope this coming spring brings in a new beginning.
What’s in my heart
should be a part
of all my art.
I need a clue
to why the hue
is often blue.
Should I scatter
some red glitter
on the matter?
Not if there’s none
near at hand, gone
off with someone.
Stuck here in the dark,
I still try to leave my mark.
Antibodies can’t protect everybody,
and sometimes not even anybody.
Nuggling with David
I’d so much love to
hold you on my lap,
fold you in my arms,
nuggle your fine hair.
But now that pleasure
I’m forced to settle
for a phone call’s share.
(David is my four-year-old grandson. “Nuggling” is his way of saying “snuggling”.)
None of us
is simply just
her or him,
we’re all of them.
This can make
a couple’s sex
a group grope,
and a threesome
a crowd scene.
I am thin and bearded, trim,
of a senior moment age,
on the sidewalk edge near the square,
face behind a grim blue mask,
hands in rubber gloves,
not the healthcare kind,
but yellow, lined, the sort
for use with lye or bleach.
Over the grime of a back hoodie,
I wear the peel of a green plastic bag,
neck and arm holes cut to fit.
(It doubles as my raincoat.)
My sign reads “P.P.E.’d and still in need.”
Driving by, you fingertip me a five,
say it’s great to see me still alive.
If all we get while we’re here
is three score and ten,
you’d already be halfway there,
but I’m betting on you: when
that time finally appears,
you’ll be ready for keepin’ on.
(for my daughter on her thirty-fifth birthday)
The stylus, once centered on
the vertical axis of the page,
swings wildly across the board
as the queries proceed downstage.
It’s tacitly understood
the graph is designed to gauge
the sway of emotion,
but is it the guilt of transgression,
or simply outrage at the question?
Getting a flu shot
during a pandemic
feels sort of like
sticking your finger
in a small crack
in the dyke
while a superstorm rages
over the seawall.
When I start to cough
it’s usually from smoking pot,
but with this pandemic underfoot,
that’s not always the case.
At any rate, when one comes on, I sit forward,
forearms on my knees, leaning over so that gravity
takes the weight of my heart
off my lungs.
Gradually I can feel
those leathery old balloons
shrivel in, then expand out
through the upper arc
of my curved spine,
like an angel’s wings
shouldering toward the vault of heaven,
lifting me bodily through yet another breath,
for whatever reason it might all be worth.
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In late fall of last year,
leaves dropping from the trees,
two wooden bundles happened to appear,
crucified on the crabapple trees cornering the property.
Nothing further happened; they hung there,
crazy tilted planks, maybe children’s forts
held in check with chicken wire,
looking forlorn, out of place and sorts.
Winter passed, and I feared ice
and snow, added weight, would break
the limbs as they suffered to carry
whatever happened to be at stake.
Roadwork began as the trees came to bloom;
I though the workers would take the planks
down to corset the concrete pour
of a sidewalk below, but, as it happened, no.
they brought in new wood to cushion that blow,
and left the two hanging bundles where they are,
so now the three of us wait to know
what, if anything, will happen from here.
Declaration of Dependence
We regret to inform you that our resources have been depleted. Sure, books and streaming services are great, but lockdowns can’t last forever. If only to remember how to stay human, we need to interact with one another, preferably without the assault rifles and the assorted paraphernalia. If we are to survive, particularly as a democracy, then we all really do, in the words of the late Rodney King, just need to learn to get along.