Every day is like Sunday

 

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Time passes strangely in the days of Corona

 

Pacing their carpeted cages

Pale, listless ghosts

Scroll news feeds ceaselessly as

Acellular microorganisms

Permeate every fevered thought

 

Belligerent banner-wavers march

Sowing infection vectors

Late Spring graves from April blooms

Their defiant snake coiled and hissing

Don’t cough on me

 

While the (casino) king prevaricates

And Governors prognosticate

The bored masses masticate

And fitfully masturbate

Their night terrors

 

This novel thing divides us

Like some cancerous mutation

We shed empathy like virus

Growing wary of outsiders

And argue with deniers

Whom we hate now more than death.

 

 

 

 

©2020

 

Words and image are my own.

 

 

Wave of Mutilation

 

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Waves crash

 

Somehow, the houses seem closer together now

While people draw further apart

We husbands and wives sit alone-together

In shrinking rooms

Nursing our vulnerabilities

Pensively viewing events

Through windows without walls

 

Curtains are drawn closed

Against a world beyond our control

Doorknobs bleached for good measure

We scurry to our mailbox for dispatches or cheques

And eat our boredom ‘til our pants get too tight

 

Every mind is an abacus now

Calculating exponentialities

And checking the odds like touts at the track

We watch the goalposts receding

Towards the distant horizon

Counting down as the numbers rise

Feeling like time is dragging too fast

Sleeping later each day

To avoid the feeling

We’re not in Kansas anymore

 

We are small and

Insignificant

Oh, wave of displacement

Pass us by

 

We are small

And do no harm

Oh, wave of retribution

Pass us by

 

What day is this?

 

 

 

 

©2020

 

Words and image are my own.

Signs of Spring

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Emergency overflow tent wards at Lancaster General.

 

For me, the past year or so has been a very strange rollercoaster ride. My green card situation finally resolved to a point where I could look for work but having been effectively out of the job market for several years by that point and being the age I am, I found there was little work to be had.

Eventually, Jersey girl left her job with a major craft store for greener pastures and, as a special favour, her boss agreed to take me on (it wasn’t permitted for me to work at that store while my wife was still a manager there). I was not keen on the idea of standing all day at a register so I took a job in night replenishment.

Even part-time, night work can be brutal, especially if you don’t sleep well in the day, (I’m reminded of the line in Fight Club, “when you’re an insomniac, nothing’s real, everything feels like it’s behind glass, a copy of a copy”) and I quickly lost all desire to write or do anything creative. Still, it was work and that was the most important thing.

Several months went by and the greener pastures of Jersey girl’s new job dried up and blew away and so she took another one with a Photography studio as their in-house framer. This was a great position but it was, unfortunately, not in New Jersey. For several months, she commuted the hour and a half to Reading PA every morning and the hour and a half home to High Bridge every night but that simply wasn’t tenable.

And so, we upped stakes and moved to Lancaster. Reading just wasn’t our kind of city but Lancaster, just a 30 minute drive away, was perfect. Longtime readers of this blog know that if there are two things I love, it’s history and architecture and this city has both in droves.

I was able to get a transfer with the company and we found a really charming apartment right in the heart of town. Life was looking up. Lancaster city only has a population of 50,000 but it has an amazingly high number of fantastic restaurants, pubs, craft breweries, tap houses, galleries, museums, and really good coffee houses. We set about exploring our new home, trying as many places as we could and quickly fell in love with the place.

Enter COVID-19. My wife and I had been watching this little beastie since early January, recognizing the potential threat it posed almost immediately. This was a new kind of virus, that was obvious. People kept falling for the relatively low death count* and not seeing that it was fast-moving, highly infectious and worst of all, in the 15% of cases that required hospitalization, one patient could tie up a hospital bed for weeks – and then still die at the end of it. We knew that if it got here it could very easily overwhelm our medical services.

And then, in a flash, it was here and the speed at which it moved was beyond belief. Before it really even looked that bad, we started to become nervous about going in to work. My job involved touching things constantly that others had touched and working up close with colleagues and customers. Meanwhile, Jersey girl dealt with a lot of rich clients that travelled often (quite a few of them in the medical profession). Going in to work a shift was becoming increasingly stressful.

We’d already started to prepare for the worst. For weeks, whenever we’d shopped, we’d bought a few extra items to lay aside, nonperishables, essentials, even water, and yes, a little extra toilet paper. We only did a little each week but by the time the Governor of PA had started making noises about lock-downs, we had enough to get us through a month or so.

Inevitably, like so many others, we were soon both out of work but at least we knew that we would not have to go hungry, at least for a while. Many people we knew refused to believe this was as bad as we knew it was. It seems a lot of people simply can’t grasp exponential growth but we have been seeing it over the past ten days here in Lancaster.

Here’s how it has gone:

1st confirmed case of COVID-19 in Lancaster was March 18th.
21st case was March 26th.
33rd and 45th cases were March 28th.
67th case was reported as of noon on March 29th which is today.
11 days’ worth of spread during a lock-down.

To date, we’ve had just 2 fatalities. That looks like a low mortality rate but bear in mind that once a patient is infected, it can take up to a month for them to actually die. We really won’t know what the final cost will be for quite some time to come.

The biggest impact for us so far has been the closures, all those amazing businesses that make this city the vibrant, incredible place it is are now shuttered. We were all given a two-week time frame for reopening but it was obvious that no one was going to ‘flatten the curve’ in such a short period of time. No, it’s going to be months before it will be safe to open places up to the public and by then, a lot of these small businesses will be broke; many will simply never reopen.

This has been a tragedy on so many levels and we’re only just getting started.

I have been taking long walks around the city armed with a mask, gloves and my cellphone camera trying to capture the strange contrasts that I see and which we all feel.

 

Signs of Spring.

 

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*Of course, the numbers out of China are rubbish. The death toll was actually in the 10s of 1000s.

©2020.

All words and images are my own.

 

White Winter Hymnal

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Is he back? Who knows? It’s been a long (and eventful) absence. I may be speaking to dead air by now. Every now and then I’ve dropped in to see how you are all getting on but the urge to write anything creative has been.. absent. And so the blog has languished and probably been forgotten, it might be for the best. Do I have anything left to say? Did I ever have anything to say?

That’s not for me to judge.

Frankly, I’m working too damned hard these days in truly menial labour to care all that much.

One piece of news may be of interest to some of you, we’re leaving Jersey. Yes, our time here has come to an end. As of the very near future, we’ll be calling Lancaster PA home. I’m excited by the prospect. Lancaster UK is actually where my family originates on my grandmother’s side and there are many symbolic connections to be found in this very pretty city in the heart of Amish country.

Perhaps the move will inspire some posts.

In the meantime, here’s a piece I wrote standing on a train platform after a night spent unloading a truck full of Christmas crap.

 

 

Cold early morning in Bridgewater

 

Down the tracks, under the overpass

A doe crosses

Proud silhouette in the backlit white cloud

Of her steaming breath

Ephemeral

All unaware

As the train from New York

Appears silently in the distance

Made insubstantial

By the haze of morning’s mist

The deer declines to shift from the trackside

Nosing her way through the glistening weeds

I wait for the blast from the driver’s horn

But the train bears down with mesmeric rhythms

More seductive than startling

The deer if she has noticed

Remains unharried

Unhurried

Then, as anticipation hangs in the chill

That horn blares

And the deer

Leaps

Bounding

Bounded by grace

 

The train speaks its language of power

The deer remains eloquently silent

I stand in awe

Of the unrepeatable moment.

 

Words and image are my own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

Short memory

 

 

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To the broken goes the crown

 

It circles unerringly

Ready to drop like an arrow

Or God’s hammer

This shifting of allegiances

This disregard for past loyalties

When did we become Mercury?

Slick and slippery

When did the flow of poison gather momentum?

I have no answer

When the pillars we stand upon

Begin to melt, warp, crack, and tumble

We all fall together into flame

A heap of flailing limbs and lashing teeth

In a tangle from which no one rises

A hill of discontent crowned with

The ruins of resentment.

 

 

 

 

 

Words and image are my own.

 

©2019

Everything’s just wonderful

 

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Unsullied

 

You want to ask people sometimes

Where does it come from?

This infallible knowledge

Which allows you to judge the way

Others live their lives

What deep wisdom do you draw upon?

That gives you such insight

Such certainty

Do you ever question your own opinions?

Or are you beyond the limits of introspection?

Could it be you just know?

Even that which you don’t

Or is the reality much simpler?

Your way

Or the highway.

 

 

Words and image are my own.

 

©2019

 

 

Intricate song’s lost measure

 

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Odd choices

 

They built a brutalist monstrosity

On top of Hilda Doolittle’s house

I don’t know why they did that

Just couldn’t help themselves

I suppose

 

We can be careless that way with treasures

Always putting tomorrow

Ahead of yesterday

Today, her house is underneath City Hall but then

Aren’t we all?

 

What remains of Hilda lays

In an unassuming grave

I must assume

 

I searched but couldn’t find it among the obelisks

And laurels

A sign of healthy humility

Don’t you think?

 

Dear H.D. made it just a short distance up the street

In which she was born

(Via New York, London, Paris, Zurich)

Now her ashes are up on Nisky Hill

Seashells of appreciation placed on her headstone

Or, so, I’m told

 

In the end, the poet came home

To a place she’d long left behind

Nestled in the soil of memory

Looking down on old familiar views

O little town of Bethlehem.

 

She could see her house from there

If she weren’t in an urn

And they hadn’t built a brutalist monstrosity on top of it.

 

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Words and images are my own.

 

©2019

 

Hilda Doolittle