• 4/30/2020, Heartwood for Eavan Boland 1944 - 2020

    Diane Sahms (formerly Sahms-Guarnieri)

    Philadelphia, PA 19111, USA

    Yesterday, a poet emailed me about Eavan Boland’s
    death in Dublin (on April 27th the same day
    my German / Irish father died 23 years ago).
    At my open back door looking into Spring,
    in all its illumination, I stand upon this
    threshold, as death rubs against me
    like a black cat circling. He sent along
    her poem “Quarantine.” I wept for all—
    past, present, & future viral invasions
    that cast their evil spells throughout Time
    upon defenseless humans—& now Coronavirus
    looms. I realize ultimately that Time, too,
    is a virus we breathe-in during our first
    breath when heart’s clock starts ticking,
    until its last drumming beat; & perhaps,
    birth & death dates are kept in the inner most
    breast pocket of death’s disheveled, long black
    raincoat patterned with freezing stars. Maybe,
    our entire life only a “hyphen” chiseled
    into the center of a sleeping stone between
    birth - death dates. In the winter of 1847…
    a man and woman fell asleep: her feet
    were held against his breastbone.
    This first bloomless spring, since I planted
    a sapling, twenty-three years ago.
    I look into dead dogwood’s heartwood
    cut halfway down today.
    Two song sparrows alight—
    one feeding the other one crumbs.

  • The COVID OBIT.

    Richard Cary Joel - Almost Uptown Poetry Cartel

    Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

    Someone’s mother died from this virus,
    and then it was someone’s son,
    a brother, then a sister
    and yet there were none,
    who passed from this world,
    with a loved one by their side,
    to hear their last words,
    and share their last cry.

    They all died alone,
    surrounded by strangers in masks,
    all behind plastic shields,
    performing their tasks,
    and though they were caring,
    they were not family,
    who were prevented from being there,
    due to COVID-19

    This pandemic,
    this plague,
    this Corona insanity,
    disrupting our lives,
    impairing our humanity,
    even altering death,
    and how it’s observed,
    as morgues replace a ceremony,
    that each of them,
    deserved.

    With not a soul at graveside,
    standing close,
    to say farewell,
    no mass gathering after burial,
    in this deadly viral Hell,
    where social distance
    not embrace,
    is the intimacy of the day,
    while a suffering human race
    expresses their dismay.

    So, a mother of 83
    and a daughter of 48,
    and the father of three small children,
    leave this world
    yet still await,
    the goodbyes,
    and mournful tears,
    of the people they so loved,
    who were all kept far away,
    by this scourge
    I’m speaking of…

    And each with the same obit,
    where it is duly noted,
    that in the year,
    two-thousand twenty,
    they expired,
    due to COVID.

  • Distance

    Richard Cary Joel - Almost Uptown Poetry Cartel

    Harrisburg, Pennsylvania



    People walk down the street
    waving at each other
    with new found vigor,
    and desperation
    hoping for a response,
    craving
    any form of
    human interaction,
    yet remaining aloof,
    keeping their distance,
    acutely aware
    of the danger of proximity.
    Calculating
    how far
    from the other,
    is needed
    to ensure their self-preservation.

    No one smiles any more,
    except with their eyes,
    as faces
    are now masked and covered
    by law and decree,
    by conformity and convention,
    by fear and tightly woven fabric.

    We have become dangerous strangers
    to each other,
    more than we ever were,
    as anyone
    could be carrying
    this novel and catchy
    Death,
    this COVID-19,
    this New Corona Virus,
    lurking,
    with stealthiness,
    so invisibly
    in the air,
    seeking out its victims,
    without prejudice or discrimination.

    In this Pandemic,
    it’s the luck of the draw,
    to get it,
    or not,
    a fool’s gamble,
    to play the odds,
    throwing caution to the wind,
    for these days,
    the wind carries
    a thing that kills!

    So we don our masks
    and gauge the span between us,
    and listen to the so called experts,
    who alter their well-informed directives,
    daily.

    Six or twelve,
    a hundred to infinity,
    how many cold and distant feet
    must separate us,
    from our fellow human beings?

    How long will it be,
    till that vaccine is found?
    till that treatment is developed,
    till our herd immunity is finally heard of?
    till the curve is flattened,
    and the ICU’s are at long last,
    empty!

    Who would have thought
    I’d miss a handshake so…
    a hug,
    a caress,
    a bottle of beer,
    at the bar,
    with a friend.
    As I must now avoid
    each and every human being,
    like the plague.
    maintaining my isolation,
    giving them a wide berth,
    exhibiting a well-rehearsed look of terror
    should they dare come close,
    my personal space,
    having mutated
    into something so impersonal.

    “Too close for comfort”
    taking on a whole new meaning,
    in today’s COVID world,
    the only comfort found,
    at home,
    alone,
    behind a locked door.

    Stay at home orders
    demanding,
    we shelter in place,
    and leave
    “only”
    for what’s deemed,
    “life sustaining”.

    But how long can life be sustained
    in a world that looks like this?
    In this new COVID reality
    where a breath can mean death,
    and a gloveless touch
    is too much,
    where the enemy can’t be seen,
    and the “All Clear”
    is never sounded,
    where
    Distance,
    has become
    the new and novel substitute
    for what was once,
    our intimacy.


  • Autoimmunity

    Ansel Oommen, MLS(ASCP)

    New York, New York

    We are not immune as we once believed

    We are not immune to business as usual
    When business has always been busy
    Prescribing profits over prudence
    With false prophecies of golden years

    We are not immune to the viral strains
    Of rabid voices coughing up empty words
    Ever mutating sense into missense
    Each echo more feral than before

    We are not immune to the dissemination of lies
    Aerosolized and transmitted as truth
    For even with repeat exposure
    We still react to what was never foreign

    We are not immune to the poisons of privilege
    As we amputate left to save what is right
    As we amputate right to save what is left
    When instead, the diagnosis was truly systemic

    We are not immune to being the greatest
    When we fill our graveyards to be the least

    As we reach the end stage of life as we know it
    While we await a vaccine for all our ills
    Let us remember:
    The disease was always within ourselves

    The pandemic was just a symptom.

  • Still Lives Shimmer

    Austin Bayless

    Tennesee


    Still Lives Shimmer

    I decided to become a writer in 2008 after
    watching Eudora Welty read a short story
    on public television about smoke rising
    'gainst silhouetted trees as if from a ruined castle
    near a moonlit river

    Now, during these strange days.
    Oddly, I find my grounding in
    myriad shades of frizzled onions as well
    as from the tingle of my bare feet over grass,
    the counter-orange of the chlorophyll scraped away
    for good. Forever.

    Distanced time hovers like a buzz, a hum.
    neither frozen nor moving forward.
    The trees' pink flowers emerge in clusters
    reeking in the disembodied hypnotic voices
    of tribal leaders with empires to conquer.

    J'understand what I'm sayin'?

    All images seem replete with desolate seascapes.
    Then the tree's bronzes turn to green sans
    the comforting colors of butternut squash and curry.
    I look out through an angled trapezoid of a doorway,
    pale, emptied of those pink flowers emerging
    and emerging and spilling recklessly
    onto a cold landscape where
    lions laze by a bonfire.
    Landscapes shimmer
    as frogs slathered in
    echoes of ancient layered colors
    contemplate these strange days.

    These strange
    and ever-haunting days.

    --Austin Bayless,
    April 2020

  • Coronavirus

    Helen Menzies

    Enfield, Middlesex

    This virus has hit
    All over the globe
    The extremity of this pandemic
    Is starting to unfold.

    It began in Wuhan on a market stall
    Where dead and live animals were sold together
    Disease spread from species to species
    No hygiene rules were in place, ever!

    People are dying all over the world
    All nationalities, ages, it doesn't discriminate
    This is a massive disaster
    Getting the virus is our ultimate fate.

    Social distancing is now in place
    And we are in lockdown. only going out to buy food supplies
    The government are giving daily updates
    But these are an abundance of lies.

    They are not protecting our NHS workers
    They don't have the correct equipment and are not being tested to check if they need to self-isolate
    So, the majority don't know if they have the disease
    And due to incompetence, it will be too late.

    Many people have lost their jobs
    The prospect of no money leaves them facing poverty
    Loosing their homes could be an eventuality
    That all of us can see.

    The government have put grants and loans to help businesses
    Universal Credit has been increased by only a thousand pounds a year
    But getting access to these measures is virtually an impossibility
    People can't survive and live in fear.

    Charities will drastically loose funding
    The vulnerable will suffer tenfold
    It's always the neediest in society that pay the price
    The disabled, the poor and the old.

    It is a catastrophe that is already happening
    But we are only experiencing a fraction of the inevitability
    The widespread of this coronavirus
    Will leave us wondering if we will ever be free?

  • The Apocalypse

    Dr Elizabeth Mitchell

    USA

    This is the apocalypse
    A daffodil has poked its head up
    from the dirt and opened
    sunny arms to bluer skies
    yet I am filled with
    dark and anxious dread
    as theaters close as travel ends and
    grocery stores display their empty rows
    where toilet paper liquid bleach
    and bags of flour stood in upright ranks.

    My stomach twists and fingers shake
    as I prepare to work the battleground
    the place I’ve always loved and felt at home
    is now a field of droplets sprayed across a room
    or lurking on a handle or a sink to find their way
    inside our trusting hands or mouths or eyes
    the ones that touch you when you’re sick
    speak soothing words and seek the answer to your pain.

    This is the apocalypse
    as spring begins again
    and brightly colored flowers
    deploy in my back yard
    the neighbors walk their dogs
    and march along the quiet streets
    I stretch my purple gloves on steady hands
    I tie my yellow gown behind my back
    my hair inside a blue bouffant
    my mouth and nose and eyes are
    still and calm inside their waiting shields.
    This is the apocalypse.

  • Coronavirus

    Helen Menzies

    Enfield, Middlesex

    This virus has hit
    All over the globe
    The extremity of this pandemic
    Is starting to unfold.

    It began in Wuhan on a market stall
    Where dead and live animals were sold together
    Disease spread from species to species
    No hygiene rules were in place, ever!

    People are dying all over the world
    All nationalities, ages, it doesn't discriminate
    This is a massive disaster
    Getting the virus is our ultimate fate.

    Social distancing is now in place
    And we are in lockdown. only going out to buy food supplies
    The government are giving daily updates
    But these are an abundance of lies.

    They are not protecting our NHS workers
    They don't have the correct equipment and are not being tested to check if they need to self-isolate
    So, the majority don't know if they have the disease
    And due to incompetence, it will be too late.

    Many people have lost their jobs
    The prospect of no money leaves them facing poverty
    Loosing their homes could be an eventuality
    That all of us can see.

    The government have put grants and loans to help businesses
    Universal Credit has been increased by only a thousand pounds a year
    But getting access to these measures is virtually an impossibility
    People can't survive and live in fear.

    Charities will drastically loose funding
    The vulnerable will suffer tenfold
    It's always the neediest in society that pay the price
    The disabled, the poor and the old.

    It is a catastrophe that is already happening
    But we are only experiencing a fraction of the inevitability
    The widespread of this coronavirus
    Will leave us wondering if we will ever be free?

  • The Apocalypse

    Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell

    USA

    This is the apocalypse
    A daffodil has poked its head up
    from the dirt and opened
    sunny arms to bluer skies
    yet I am filled with
    dark and anxious dread
    as theaters close as travel ends and
    grocery stores display their empty rows
    where toilet paper liquid bleach
    and bags of flour stood in upright ranks.

    My stomach twists and fingers shake
    as I prepare to work the battleground
    the place I’ve always loved and felt at home
    is now a field of droplets sprayed across a room
    or lurking on a handle or a sink to find their way
    inside our trusting hands or mouths or eyes
    the ones that touch you when you’re sick
    speak soothing words and seek the answer to your pain.

    This is the apocalypse
    as spring begins again
    and brightly colored flowers
    deploy in my back yard
    the neighbors walk their dogs
    and march along the quiet streets
    I stretch my purple gloves on steady hands
    I tie my yellow gown behind my back
    my hair inside a blue bouffant
    my mouth and nose and eyes are
    still and calm inside their waiting shields.
    This is the apocalypse.

  • Untitled - Prose Poem

    Kitty O'Meara

    USA

    And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

    And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

    And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.

  • Untitled COVID-19 Poem

    Laura Fanucci

    USA

    When this is over, may we never again take for granted

    A handshake with a stranger

    Full shelves at the store

    Conversations with neighbors

    A crowded theater

    Friday night out

    The taste of communion

    A routine checkup

    The school rush each morning

    Coffee with a friend

    The stadium roaring

    Each deep breath

    A boring Tuesday

    Life itself.

    When this ends

    may we find

    that we have become

    more like the people

    we wanted to be

    we were called to be

    we hoped to be

    and may we stay

    that way — better

    for each other

    because of the worst. https://laurakellyfanucci.com/

  • Coronavirus: A Poem

    Ibrahim Ibn Salma, S.B.

    USA

    Embrace me if you can,
    My heart is getting thin,
    My skin is as yellow as
    A sprig of saffron,
    The bright days from my life
    Are fading away,

    Embrace me if you can,
    My lover is trying to kill me,
    Not allowing me
    To die by nature
    I am mad,
    Why kill me?
    I am already at the point of death,

    Embrace me if you will,
    Seek and seek, then,
    Be lost in the quest,
    With a deep and lasting wish
    To become what we ought to be,
    So we together cross
    This difficult ordeal,
    Not forgetting that
    We exist forever.

  • Pandemic

    Lynn Ungar

    Australia

    What if you thought of it
    as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
    the most sacred of times?
    Cease from travel.
    Cease from buying and selling.
    Give up, just for now,
    on trying to make the world
    different than it is.
    Sing. Pray. Touch only those
    to whom you commit your life.
    Center down.

    And when your body has become still,
    reach out with your heart.
    Know that we are connected
    in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
    (You could hardly deny it now.)
    Know that our lives
    are in one another’s hands.
    (Surely, that has come clear.)
    Do not reach out your hands.
    Reach out your heart.
    Reach out your words.
    Reach out all the tendrils
    of compassion that move, invisibly,
    where we cannot touch.

    Promise this world your love–
    for better or for worse,
    in sickness and in health,
    so long as we all shall live.

  • Coronavirus Poem

    Senator Cory Booker

    USA

    We can't touch
    but we still reach out

    we hunker down
    but we still rise up

    our bodies are attacked
    but our spirits fight back

    the enemy is invisible
    but so many of our heroes are now seen

    weeks and weeks of isolation
    but still infinite and invincible determination

    we are distant
    but we stand together

    and together
    we shall overcome

  • Take Care

    President Michael D. Higgins

    Ireland

    In the journey to the light,
    the dark moments
    should not threaten.
    Belief
    requires
    that you hold steady.
    Bend, if you will,
    with the wind.
    The tree is your teacher,
    roots at once
    more firm
    from experience
    in the soil
    made fragile.

    Your gentle dew will come
    and a stirring
    of power
    to go on
    towards the space
    of sharing.

    In the misery of the I,
    in rage,
    it is easy to cry out
    against all others
    but to weaken
    is to die
    in the misery of knowing
    the journey abandoned
    towards the sharing
    of all human hope
    and cries
    is the loss
    of all we know
    of the divine
    reclaimed
    for our shared
    humanity.
    Hold firm.
    Take care.
    Come home
    together.

  • Lockdown

    Richard Hendrick

    Ireland

    Yes there is fear.
    Yes there is isolation.
    Yes there is panic buying.
    Yes there is sickness.
    Yes there is even death.
    But,
    They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
    You can hear the birds again.
    They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
    The sky is no longer thick with fumes
    But blue and grey and clear.
    They say that in the streets of Assisi
    People are singing to each other
    across the empty squares,
    keeping their windows open
    so that those who are alone
    may hear the sounds of family around them.
    They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
    Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
    Today a young woman I know
    is busy spreading fliers with her number
    through the neighbourhood
    So that the elders may have someone to call on.
    Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
    are preparing to welcome
    and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
    All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
    All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
    All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
    To how big we really are.
    To how little control we really have.
    To what really matters.
    To Love.
    So we pray and we remember that
    Yes there is fear.
    But there does not have to be hate.
    Yes there is isolation.
    But there does not have to be loneliness.
    Yes there is panic buying.
    But there does not have to be meanness.
    Yes there is sickness.
    But there does not have to be disease of the soul
    Yes there is even death.
    But there can always be a rebirth of love.
    Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
    Today, breathe.
    Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
    The birds are singing again
    The sky is clearing,
    Spring is coming,
    And we are always encompassed by Love.
    Open the windows of your soul
    And though you may not be able
    to touch across the empty square,
    Sing.

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© Coronavirus Chronicles, 2020