April 13, 2020

Reductionists want to reduce our actions down to one reason. They want to sell the idea that you walk funny because of your dinner. But our actions, our habits, have a whole world of reasons, a whole history of them.



Landscapers trim the grass border, while father and son are walking to the bus stop. Geese! flood the sky


All the things a smile could say

All the things a smile could say

could also be said with the eyes. 
i’ve heard people say that they try to
replace their smile
with a hand gesture, 
but that turns out to be an awkward
understanding, one which only the
person performing the gesture
actually understands.
Most say they use words to replace a smile.
Though, words are always
only place-holders, besides
couldn’t they just announce:
I’m smiling behind this mask.
Of course when they say they use words
to replace a smile they mean tone
and aren’t tones also heard
through the eyes?

morning fuzz

While everyone is
pushing and pushing
back the morning
fuzz of autumn,
grasses bloom
in place. Children
holding parent’s
hands walking
to the bus stop
Magnolia petals
drop to the street. 

Virus Dreaming

I woke up writing a poem.
It might have been a continuation
of my dreaming, though, because
I had taken out a newspaper
advert to write a short two column

by six inch persona
poem for the Virus.
If the Virus had a voice,
what accent would I give it?

Suddenly a locomotive of a thought,
Why is it that if given the choice
I will choose fear every time
In other words, why is it so easy
to succumb to fear?

The tone would clearly be villainous.
It would say something like,
You people love to talk. . .
with a long pause to convey power,

and authority, . . . about the
greatness of the human spirit.
Before continuing Virus
would take a breath in
through parted lips sucking

like a saliva ejector on fleshy
mucous-lined cheeks
sucking excess saliva
passed tongue and teeth, 

You love to talk. . .
about when this is all over.
As if it will ever be over.

I’ve got news
for you
this is over,
when we learn
to live
together.

The Virus points out.
For some reason
I look to myself to guide
me; reading over past journal entries
I come across one that says,

my knowledge is so fragile.
And it is
because it is known
through the experience of others 

Another entry that goes,
sound and meaning are tied so
closely together. Sound is a finger
pointing and meaning is particular.

Then I begin to wonder if
Virus isn’t just the finger
pointing at me. 

Self-isolating


Self-isolating


with your hands pressed together
it’s hard to know
where one hand ends
and the other begins,

impossible even.
with the National Guard deployed
to three different states,
to your state,
it’s difficult to tell
if what’s normal here
is normal there.

impossible even.
it’s too easy to want to
hunker down
with some snacks
and turn on netflix,

irresistible it seems.
reduced to a voice
and drowning in a sea of voices.

Updates, notifications
can’t come fast enough.
batteries are drained by mid-morning.
overuse and gaming
will do that to a phone.

looking out the window,
you see
the daffodils are also eager
to get some sun.   

I Looked Up and Saw My Bandwidth Swallowed by a Black Hole

I admit when word got out that companies were sending
employees home, to work from home, I was pretty jealous.
While most of the world seems to be testing the technology—
stretching the limits of communication,

stretching my bandwidth thinner and thinner.
That’s what it comes down to with technology, though,
levels of communication.
I mean talking with grandparents, with mom and dad,
can be spotty even in the same room, let alone with
technology thrown in the mix.

Lately I’ve seen my bandwidth stretched so thin
at times I can hardly get through an episode. Or share photos. Or video chat.
Companies are trying to adapt with us and it’s making me
ask what’s necessary: what things are still worth putting on
a platform. My health? my eating habits? quality of my food?
Or is it my technology? my entertainment, my gaming,
my sports, my gazillion monthly subscriptions to apps,

I’m thinking about how much I need
from grocery stores and wondering if I’m not putting all my
eggs in one basket, which I’ve been warned against.
We all have for some time now.

Look outside, look to nature and see all the variety,
it doesn’t take long to realize that
the variety is what is making each and every thing work
nothing is dependent on one source,

everything depending on each and every other thing
yet I am pretty dependent on this one source: the grocery store.
I’m pretty dependent on the few global corporations like Amazon,
or Google for my information, which have made it their aim for
us to depend on their one source, and now what?

Now we’re fighting for toilet paper and Mountain Dew
I need to be able to depend on myself a little more.
Though I’m not sure if I have the authority to change this.
To be a source of variety, to dig my hands in the earth
and pull up root vegetables, potatoes, and onions and bring
them to the dining table, the family table.

I’m lucky, though, to still have the chance to bring home
the bacon, I suppose. My wife, on the front-line, a grocery-store worker
is also being stretched thin with early mornings and sleepless nights.
Here is an opportunity to appreciate those that we do depend on
regardless of the social hierarchy; they aren’t teachers,
or police, or fire, or doctors,
they aren’t scientists, or academics, or public officials,
or even ironman, or spiderman,
but they are first responders. Our grocery store workers are
first responders.

While the world is testing the limits of communication
with technology, I’m testing the limits of my communication
through poetry, through living a life for my loved ones;
to work for them and spend time with them in a more direct way
while the whole thing comes crumbling down around us. 

In the Neighborhoods

Driving through this ghost town, no lights on in the windows. No
Delivery trucks on the streets. A pair of homeless walk their bikes
With packs and gear slung over shoulder, on handlebars, packs slouching over seats.

I woke up this morning thinking about how I’ve always considered myself
On the outside looking in. Which makes me a stranger in my own home.
My wife my kids at home sick, while I’m driving into work under twilight sky
Under fertile crescent moon through downtown Georgetown,

We worry, during these times, that we’re making the right decisions
Now maybe more than ever. Though we don’t think it’s the invader,
We act like it is, because who knows? 

Later, up north in the Greenlake neighborhood,
Parents and children walk by in handfuls.
Every couple with a smile, and every child intense with play.

Coffee shops are open and they let customers in one or two at a time.
Restaurants are empty, the chef turned delivery driver
Loads up his car. A childless couple walks by
Probably programmers, or social media account managers,

Or both, with coffee cups in hand, talking about
The luxuries of not having children, while acting like their dog is a child.
We talk a lot about our perspective, about what history has taught us,
We think we know how the impact of these moments change the course of history.

So we’re careful; walking on eggshells; walking so as not to disturb the sleeping baby.
Careful not to indulge too much, not to enjoy the time at home too greatly
Concerned and anxious, we’re pulsing underneath, concerned and scared
Because the anchor of our economy is tied so closely with our joy.

Greetings from WashYourHandsingTon State

You certainly can feel it in the air now, 
each one of us a tesla tower pulling concern from the sky.
Some say it’s too much worry, others not enough.
At the grocery store we briefly make eye contact
and you know it’s on their minds as well—

Nobody says a thing, and when somebody does,
it’s a joke. Or it’s the kid walking down
the sidewalk talking on the hands-free saying,
fuck that man, now’s the time to buy not sell
all the old people are gonna die. . .

Schools down the street are being shut down
so they can be sanitized.
We get texts from our kids asking if it’s safe. It’s
so close now, daddy, is it okay?
Of course it’s okay sweetie, just keep your head down,
pull up your bootstraps, wash your hands
and get to work.

Inboxes have filled up with event cancellations:
PTA, principal’s office, school district,
community events. For fear of low turnout they say,
but schools will remain open, just keep your head down
pull up your bootstraps
wash your hands and get back to work. 

By now we all have these little fears
but we don’t let anyone in on it. 
We wash our hands a little longer, we
nod at the mask wearers, no longer in mocking
voice. A nearby cough
sets off a jolt.

We go about ordering our food, or
shaking hands, even though as we’re reaching
we’re thinking, is this really necessary? Still,
we shake and nod and smile. You just gotta
keep your head down, pull up
your bootstraps wash
your hands and get back to work.

We get a tickle in our throats
we wake up with pounding headaches,
we go to work,
we go to school,
we shake hands and nod and smile
we’re keeping our heads down, pulling up our bootstraps
washing our hands and getting back to work

Traffic has been so light, the drive in to work
has been great. If you work for one of
the big companies, that telecommute, you
don’t know what you’re missing!

*WashYourHandsingTon is a jingle from several years ago to remind people to cover their coughs and wash their hands during the cold and flu season.