Sunday, August 16, 2020

My Life in 50 Objects, 8: Enameled Cast Iron from Vermont



This oval Dutch oven (or cocotte) looks like Le Creuset, but it is literally from a Dutch company, DRU. This pot belonged to my Aunt Nita, and I took it from her kitchen after she died in 1997. I wonder whether she brought it from their seven-year sojourn in Paris in the 1950s, or one of her many trips back over the years. I don't remember any particular dish she made in this pot, just that it was lovely and substantial, and it fits my kitchen's color scheme.

            The internet tells me the company was founded in 1754 as a blast furnace making cast iron products, though it now concentrates on gas-fired heating and wood-burning ovens. Its enameled cast-iron cookware is now sold as “mid-century vintage” at websites like Olde Kitchen and etsy; it’s much cheaper than Le Creuset, but seems just as sturdy and long-lasting.

            I don’t use this pot often because its shape seems most suited to roasting a chicken, and its surface area isn’t as big as a round Dutch oven would be—I think. But I did use it last night to sauté four chicken thighs, then sautéed onions and mushrooms, and braised it all together—really delicious. And I have a deep round Le Creuset covered skillet, which is my kitchen workhorse. I think I should start using the DRU pot more often.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

SOLTuesday: Local Damage from Storm Isaias today

The storm came through New York City fairly quickly, with only a few hours of wild wind and rain, and the damage was much worse along the coast, in Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Queens. But up here along Riverside Drive between 111th and 114th Streets, there are lots of branches broken off, and even some trees down.

And turning to the right, all these little branches


Here’s what I saw when I crossed Riverside Drive.
Near the mayhem above.


A much bigger tree was uprooted down in the park.

A skirt of branches
Leaf litter

And large branches block the promenade along Riverside Drive

Meanwhile, it's dusk, and the raccoons have come out to forage, while residents have started feeding them, which is probably not a good idea. Raccoons are wild animals. They are not domesticated pets.

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It’s Slice of Life Tuesday over at Two Writing Teachers. Check out this encouraging and enthusiastic writing community and their slices of life every Tuesday. And add one of your own.





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Tuesday, July 28, 2020

My Life in 50 Objects, 7: Lenin, with Accessories


Lenin’s bust is something else I took from Grandpa Sam’s apartment after he died. I never knew he had this, so never asked him when he got it and what he thought about Lenin. I wonder if it belonged to his second wife, Gussie Linn, who was much more of a Communist than he was. After they returned from their trip to the U.S.S.R. in 1972, he told us about flying to Riga to visit Gussie’s relatives. He mentioned that the flight was a bit over a couple of hours and the passengers were only given some candy. Gussie immediately protested that the flight wasn’t that long. Sam replied mildly, “I’m not criticizing the Soviet Union.”
            The hat and the boa had nothing to do with Sam. The hat was part of a gift for my 50th birthday party from Meredith Bernstein, a literary agent and college friend of Ricki Levitt, who was a student of my old friend Gerald when he was TA’ing at the University of Rochester in the 1960s. The boa? This was from some recent party, I think—events in the past 10-15 years are, oddly, less sharp in my memory. 
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It’s Slice of Life Tuesday over at Two Writing Teachers. Check out this encouraging and enthusiastic writing community and their slices of life every Tuesday. And add one of your own.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

My Life in 50 Objects, part 6

            This collage was put together by my grandpa Sam. Sam Leibowitz was my mother’s father, born in what was then Russia (and is now Ukraine), on an estate where his father was the overseer. (One reason so many Russian peasants were anti-Semitic was because so many Russian nobles hired Jews to be their overseers. Thus, the taxes and other payments due to estate owners were collected by Jewish men, who bore the brunt of hatred for what the peasants had to give up.) So the photos are my mother’s family.
            On the left, second from the top, are my parents, Joe and Leah. I think this is from around the time they got married, though they didn’t have a big ceremony. They had to wait until she graduated from William and Mary College, in 1940, because the school (a public institution) didn’t allow married women to be students.
            Going clockwise, the top left corner is another wedding, in 1949. I think the wedding coupkle, in the center back, are Jeannette and Adolph Blank. Sitting around the table, from front left, are the bride’s father, Morris (one of Sam’s younger brothers), Leah with Mark on her lap, Joe with me on his lap, the newlyweds, Sam, Carla (who must be standing on a chair), Grandma Liz, and the bride’s mother, Mary.
            Next photo must be Sam’s family. I’m guessing this was taken once they were all in the United States, coming in at least four different trips: first Sam’s oldest sister (1905), then Sam (1906), then his next older sister (1907), and then his mother with three (or four) of her youngest children (1910). On the other hand, the man on the left looks much older than Sam, so perhaps he is the husband of Sam’s oldest sister. I may be totally wrong about who these people are, but if I am, there’s no one to tell me. Here’s my guess: Seated on the right is Sam’s mother, Yechaved (but she has a different name in the 1910 census), and on the left perhaps his oldest sister, Rose. Between the two seated women is Sadie, who looks about 10 here. She died young, at 13; one story says it was on board the ship New Zealand, but since the 1910 census puts her in the U.S., I think this story isn’t true. Standing from right: Rose, Sam, Max or Morris or Sol, and if this is Rose’s husband, that’s Jack Breiman.
            In the upper right corner, this is clearly Sam, perhaps his mother, and Sadie.
            In the row below, from left, the photo that’s labeled 1929 cannot be right. The youngest girl looks like my mother’s cousin, Honey Lee, who was born in 1930. She might be two in this photo, which would make Anita, next to her, eight, and Leah, standing behind, 14. The next photo to the right is, I think, Leah when she was about two, and that may be her grandmother in the window. This looks like the country, but I have no idea where. And on the far right, from the right, Leah’s mother, Liz; an unhappy-looking seven-year-old Leah; Sam, holding baby Anita; and Liz’s parents, Nathan and Rebecca Ohrenstein. This would be around 1925.
            Below this photo is Anita, probably around 30, with a tiny child photo, and below her, Ben Morreale, her husband for 38 years. Many stories attached to them, which I will relate elsewhere.
            In the center is a photo of Nathan and Rebecca, and below them, Sam, standing, Liz with coffee cup, and Leah, between one and two? These two pictures are clearly studio shots, but if there was an occasion for them, I don’t know what it is.
            Immediately to the left, we’re getting into the modern era: me at about five; my brother, Mark, at three, and below Mark, sister Carla, at age one. I think these photos were taken by a photographer wandering through our Brooklyn neighborhood rather than in a studio. But look, Carla is holding a ball just as Leah is almost 30 years earlier. Do studio photographers still use that prop for tots?
            To the right of baby Carla are two pictures from 1960, in Gladwyne. On the left, Mark, me, and Carla are in front of the back of our new house, and on the right is after my high school graduation, with Grandpa Sam holding our enormous tiger cat, parents to my left, Mark in the back, and Carla with a hand on the cat.
            Below Ben is a studio shot of Sam’s mother and one of his sisters. To the left is toddler Leah, around two(?), with her three grandparents, and parents standing in the back. The wedding couple are, I think, the same couple as in the photo at the top, Jeannette and Adolph Blank. And to their left, another 1960 graduation photo, this time with Liz instead of Sam included.
            The bottom row of photos is less known to me. Who is the man in the lower-left picture? To his right is my mother’s cousin Honey Lee, in the beret, and the date in the photo below her is clearly wrong: Honey looks about 10, so this would be about 1940. Next to her is her grandmother, and behind her, her father, Morris Rappaport, and mother Esther, Liz’s younger sister. The next photo is another mystery, either one of Sam’s sisters or one of his brothers, and presumably their daughter. And could the date be as wrong as some of these others?
            The final three snapshots: Milly, married to Lou (Liz’s younger brother), and Esther, Honey's mother.
            This is one introduction to part of my family.

My Life in 50 Objects: Bulgarian perfumier


           This is a gift from Christina Kotchemidova, who I first met at the founding meeting of the Network of East-West Women in 1991. She came from Bulgaria, and for the longest time, whenever I thought of the Bulgarian members of NEWW, I could only remember the young Bulgarian woman in the film Casablanca, set in WWII, who with her husband are hoping to get transit out of Axis-occupied territory to the U.S. She tells Rick, the Humphrey Bogart character, “In Bulgaria, the devil has the people by the throat.”
          When I visited Christina in Sofia in 1994, that seemed partly to be true. A monument to a Communist hero was besmirched with graffiti, and the grand building was now a bazaar of stalls, with people selling anything they could, and children picking pockets. On the other hand, the main square was almost a showplace for tolerance, with an Orthodox church, a synagogue, and a mosque within yards of each other.
            Christina came to New York with her two children a year after NEWW was founded to attend NYU’s graduate journalism program. She had worked as a writer and translator in Bulgaria, and her 14-year-old daughter was gung-ho to come to the States. The daughter was severely disappointed with American girls, however. Eager to follow politics and our 1992 election, she couldn’t find anyone in the private girls school we helped get her into to share her interest, and in a few months, she only wanted to go back to Sofia, where young people were eager to discuss politics of all sorts.
            After getting her M.A., Christina returned to Bulgaria and began teaching for severak years. Then she came back to NYU, got a Ph.D., and then a job teaching at Spring Hill College, in Mobile, Alabama. She arrived there a week before Hurricane Katrina struck and had to evacuate to a friend’s in Atlanta. What an introduction to a new part of the country. She was amazed at how orderly drivers were when the power went out and traffic lights no longer worked. That would never have happened in Bulgaria, she said.
            She has since gotten tenure, both her children have attended American universities, gotten their Ph.D.s, and are either teaching or working for a multinational corporation. A story of successful immigrants.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

SOLTuesday: My Life in 50 Objects, part 5


Both of these two things belonged to my grandfather Sam Leibowitz, and they seem to show opposite sides of his interest. I wish I had been able to ask him how these fit together.
            I wasn’t surprised by all the Soviet pins, though I don’t know whether he got all of them in his one trip to the Soviet Union in 1971 (when he left home to come to the U.S. in 1906 it was still Russia), or whether he got some of them earlier. Five identical pins say “Mir” (or Peace) on top, “Mai” (May?) on the bottom. Two pins celebrate the centennial of Lenin’s birth (1870-1970). A few are simply about Moscow, and then there is a pin for Latvia, and another for Riga, the Latvian capital. Sam went to the Soviet Union with his second wife, who came originally from Riga, and she still had relatives living there.
            I knew Sam had been a member of the CPUSA. In the late 1940s, he was forced to take early retirement from the Fur and Leather Workers Union because he wouldn’t sign the anti-Communist affidavit that the new Taft-Hartley Act required of union officers. But I never had any conversations with him about his politics. And he was not at all like anyone’s stereotypes of a Communist. 

            But this next object? I didn’t know about this until after he died, at 82. It’s a scroll, in Hebrew, and my mother told me it was the Book of Esther. This is the Old Testament story celebrated by the holiday of Purim. I’ve always liked this story since it has a female hero. But why did Sam have it? What did it mean for him? How did he acquire it? I know that religion meant little to him. One of his early union organizing tactics was to sit outside a workplace and eat a ham sandwich, very not kosher, to show the Jewish workers that God wouldn’t strike him dead, either for eating the ham sandwich or talking about the benefits of a union. Was this a gift from mother? and inheritance from his father? or from his in-laws?
            The never-ending and never-to-be-answered questions.
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It’s Slice of Life Tuesday over at Two Writing Teachers. Check out this encouraging and enthusiastic writing community and their slices of life every Tuesday. And add one of your own.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

SOLTuesday: My Life in 50 Objects, part 4


I’m trying to document the objects I have that my relatives may wonder about after I die and am no longer around for them to ask. (I’m not planning to die anytime soon, but it’s better to do this before I need to. My mother said she’d do it for her jewelry, and she never did.) So here are some small objects, mostly sitting on my bureau.
            The penny jar is a holdover from my college days. At Antioch College, we were given several booklets of “food stamps” to use in the cafeteria, campus coffee shop, and the Inn, the campus restaurant for visitors. The stamps were in denominations comparable to coins, but there were no penny stamps. So students would accumulate pennies over the course of a quarter (no semesters at this school), and since many of us had empty Chianti bottles, those became our default “penny jars.”
            Once I left school, saving pennies had become a habit. This jar holds around $12 worth when it’s full, and as you can see, I recently redeemed its contents. Since the pandemic lockdown, I haven’t used cash for anything, and who knows when I will again. Maybe there won’t be anymore pennies for this jar.
           
This sadly tarnished silver dumbbell was a baby gift for our daughter from the parents of a very old friend. They lived in Memphis, Tennessee, and we met them only a couple of times, but we really appreciated the gift, a teething object that Christie used quite a bit as a baby. I’m bad at the kind of maintenance this would require. Maybe putting a photo of this in public will force me to clean it up.



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It’s Slice of Life Tuesday over at Two Writing Teachers. Check out this encouraging and enthusiastic writing community and their slices of life every Tuesday. And add one of your own.


Sunday, May 24, 2020

My Life in 50 Objects: The Ring

             The ring sat among other rings in a cotton-lined box on a crowded counter in the gift shop. The shop was just a couple of blocks from campus, near the corner of Xenia Avenue, the main street in Yellow Springs, set back from the sidewalk behind a zigzag paved path amid bushes and flowers. The door tinkled from an overhead bell when Connie and I entered.
            Connie was my hallmate, another East Coaster, from Long Island, and it was just a few weeks after we’d arrived for our first year at Antioch College. On this warm day, we’d gone exploring, and here we were in an overstuffed gift shop, looking, just looking.
            The shop had a mixture of goods: scarves, vases, rings, earrings, tea boxes. I gravitated toward a ring. It had a green stone, mottled like the surface of a brain, in a round silver setting surrounded by a moat lined with a faint braid, further surrounded by 16 silver knobs, and its silver band was incised by curlicues. I tried it on, and it fit. Then I asked how much it cost.
            “Six dollars,” said the proprietor, a woman on the other side of middle-age with frizzy graying brown hair. Too much. (The equivalent of $51 today.) I put the ring back. That was too much. Connie came over and rummaged through the box of rings, while I wandered over to the tea table. There was a black and orange tin labeled Constant Comment, with orange rind and spices. That sounded tasty. I bought a tin. Back at our dorm, I noticed that Connie was wearing the ring I had tried on and wanted.
            The next day I went back to the gift shop and looked for the ring. The one with curlicues on the band was gone, but there was another one, almost the same except the silver band was plain. I paid the six dollars—and I still wear the ring, almost 60 years later.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

SOLTuesday: The Supreme Court


            Because of the pandemic, the Supreme Court has taken the unprecedented step of holding arguments via telephone, and also letting those arguments be heard by the public via C-SPAN. (Ordinarily, one can attend Supreme Court sessions, but maybe only about 100 people or so are let in to the Washington, D.C., courtroom.) Today the cases being heard were about the subpoenas served on Trump by both House committees and by the New York City D.A.’s office.
            I knew these arguments would be the subject of news reports, and since I had the chance, I wanted to be able to listen in myself and get my own sense of what was going on. So I had my TV on just after 10 a.m.
            It was fascinating. First the president’s lawyers and then the solicitor general, representing the government, made their arguments in about five minutes. Then, starting with Chief Justice Roberts and then going by seniority (Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh—that sequence is now indelibly in my mind), each justice had five minutes to ask questions and have the attorneys respond. Roberts must have had a timer, because when five minutes was up, he called the next justice, even if the attorney was in the middle of responding.
            The justices, of course, are supposed to be nonpartisan, but we know the general political leaning of almost every one of them. So it was instructive to see a conservative judge ask a question from the more liberal side, and realize that the justice was giving the president’s lawyer the opportunity to make the points that the conservative justice wanted to hear. Sometimes, if a lawyer was stopped in the middle of answering a question because a justice’s time was up, the next justice would follow up to get the lawyer to finish his (and all of the lawyers were men) point.
            In the cases concerning the congressional subpoenas, there were lots of questions comparing this case to both the lawsuits against Clinton and the Watergate hearings into Nixon. Trump’s lawyers often talked about having to protect future presidents from political “harassment,” but one could argue that the case against Trump is already the third, and the one against Clinton was just as much if not more harassment than the case against Trump.
            It wasn’t easy to see which way the justices were leaning, though I sense that their decision will be on as narrow grounds as possible.
            If you have any chance at all, do try to listen to these arguments on C-SPAN, either on TV or laptop or phone. They only last until around 1 p.m. If you have teenage children, ask them to listen for a while as well. It may seem boring or hard to follow, but the process is part of our government, and rarely has it been so readily available to the general public.
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It’s Slice of Life Tuesday over at Two Writing Teachers. Check out this encouraging and enthusiastic writing community and their slices of life every Tuesday. And add one of your own.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Covid Events, Cancellations, and Postponements


(from my datebook—EDITED)
March 10, I attend a performance of Hamilton as a guest of a friend.
March 11, I ride the subway for the last time.
March 13, Gender & Transformation workshop canceled.
March 14, I eat in a restaurant with a friend, for the last time, and shop for groceries, for the last time.
March 15, the funeral of an old colleague of Jack’s is postponed to an indefinite time.
March 15, movie discussion group (Sorry We Missed You) is canceled.
March 18, lunch with a friend canceled.
March 20, book group 2 postponed.
March 22, plans to see Drunk Shakespeare are canceled.
March 23, talk at CUNY by Victoria Phillips on “Women, Power, and Intrigue in Cold War Berlin” is canceled.
March 24, book party for Ann Snitow’s posthumous book, Visitors, and a book by Daniel Goode is canceled.
March 25, Vivien Gornick and Alix Shulman in conversation at the Center for Fiction is canceled.
March 26, Big Words reading on the theme of “Dreams” is canceled.
March 26, opening day for baseball season is canceled.
March 28, the group of Mets fans I was going to join at Bobby V’s bar in Stamford is canceled
March 28, Women Writers in Bloom Poetry Salon meets via Zoom.
March 29, New York Antioch Alumni chapter gathering postponed.
March 30, staged reading of a play by Robin Rice is canceled.
March 31, check-up with my doctor is canceled.
April 1, my women’s group meets via Zoom, on regularly scheduled day.
April 3, book group 2 (The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu) meets via Zoom, postponed from March 20.
April 4, New School panel on Ann Snitow’s book Visitors is canceled.
April 4, book group 1 (T.R. Reid's The Healing of America) meets via Zoom, on regularly scheduled day.
April 8, dentist appointment is postponed.
April 11, Pauline Olivieros's music meditation via Zoom.
April 12, family meets via Zoom, a new event.
April 14, North Star gala is canceled.
April 15, income tax deadline extended to July 15.
April 16, book group (A Long Petal of the Sea) meets via Zoom, on regularly scheduled day.
April 17, Gender & Transformation panel on Ann Snitow’s book Visitors is canceled.
April 17, Publishers Weekly happy hour via Zoom, a new event.
April 18, Women Writers in Bloom Poetry Salon’s 9th anniversary via Zoom, a regularly scheduled event.
April 19, New York Antioch Alumni chapter meets via Zoom, postponed from March 29.
April 19, family meets via Zoom.
April 21, National Gallery writing workshop, via Zoom.
April 24, book group (New York Times special section, "One Nation, Tracked") meets via Zoom, on scheduled day.
April 25, staged reading of Jen Abrams's How to Queer a Stroller, via Zoom.
April 28, New York State primary is postponed.
May 1, Gender & Transformation workshop is canceled.
May 2, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra concert is canceled.
May 2, book group 1 (Homegoing) meets via Zoom, on regularly scheduled day.
May 3, family meets via Zoom.
May 6, women’s group meets via Zoom.
May 6, dermatologist appointment is postponed.
May 7, book group (The Testament of Mary) meets via Zoom.
May 12, podiatrist appointment is postponed.
June 3, women’s group meets via Zoom.
June 6, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra concert is canceled.
June 23, New York State primary rescheduled is canceled.
July 1, dentist appointment is rescheduled??
July 29, dermatologist appointment is rescheduled??
The future?????

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Poems for Before I Die, 5


Dear Coronavirus,
What made you decide to leap
from the bats to the pangolins?
Was it the bat diet of insects?
Was it the bats’ habit of
eating on the fly?
Why did you choose the pangolin
for your next host?
Was it the sound of their name,
jingling like wind chimes,
Pan-Go-Lin, Pan-Go-Lin, Pan-Go-Lin?
Was it their layered scales,
creating a fearsome surface,
protection from predators?
What made you move on to
humans?
Was it the variety of our innards?
Was it our larger size,
more meal in one place?
What attracted your proteins
to our proteins?
What made us so tasty to you?
What lured your spiky proteins
into our lungs?
Don’t you understand that when
you weave your webs inside
our lungs,
you kill us, and you must
find another human host?
Why is the mindless replication
of your proteins so necessary?
Why have you declared war
on humanity?
What will you do when
you’ve killed us all?
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It's National Poetry Month! Poetry is hard, but I keep trying. The pandemic has set my theme for this month. You can sign up for Poem-a-Day and find out about all sorts of online poetry celebrations at the Academy of American Poets website

SOL Tuesday: Beware!


This was not a scam exactly, but it was a private company attempting to capture new customers by making it look like the U.S. Postal Service was offering me free stamps and a new service.
            Last week I got an envelope with this letter, a “test sheet,” and what looks like blank stamps. Normally, I have no trouble going to the Post Office—there’s one just a block away, and if there’s a line, I can use the machine or come back another day. But in the time of pandemic, it would help to have what looks like some free stamps, and I thought this was a new way for the Post Office to make money. I’ve gotten lots of e-mails about the current administration wanting to privatize the government postal service.
            So I went to the website, www.stamps.com/GetStamps, and plugged in my “promo code.” This sent me to a page where I had to put in my credit card info, which should have stopped me right there. I did
notice the notice on the side of the page saying I would be charged $17.99 a month for this service, and that, too, should have stopped me right there. But self-quarantine must be affecting my brain, because I just filled in all the blanks and went to the next screen.
            Here was where I was supposed to print my free stamps. But there was no way to do that. Hmmm. Okay. I’ll do something about this later.
            Today, I called the U.S. Postal Service. “Longer than usual wait times” meant that I left my phone number, and a customer service person, Keith, called me a couple of hours later.
            After I explained my dilemma, Keith said this was not something the U.S.P.S. had sent out. Oh, really? Had I been scammed? I looked more closely at the letter and realized the official-looking logo at the top of the letter said “Approved Licensed Vendor.” Aha, not the post office, a third-party company.
            I went to Stamps.com’s website, found customer service, called the number, got a recording where I could close my account, which I did promptly. And I will now call my credit card company to tell them to cancel any charge from this company.
            Have you gotten anything like this in the mail?
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It’s Slice of Life Tuesday over at Two Writing Teachers. Check out this encouraging and enthusiastic writing community and their slices of life every Tuesday. And add one of your own.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Poems for Before I Die, 4


Your doctor says, “Do not go outside.”
Alarms clang, “Incoming!”
The virus aims right at the target
on your chest,
Until this moment,
you matched a couple of
risk categories,
but theoretical.
Now it’s personal.
Now fear threads through your body.
You learn new habits,
Washing your hands after the toilet,
even though you don't pee on your hands.
Washing your hands before starting to cook,
even though every cooking show’s chef
has always modeled that.
You are alone with your risk categories
wondering
Is covid-19 the name of your death?
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It's National Poetry Month! Poetry is hard, but I keep trying. The pandemic has set my theme for this month. You can sign up for Poem-a-Day and find out about all sorts of online poetry celebrations at the Academy of American Poets website.
 

Monday, April 6, 2020

Poems Before I Die, 3


We entered the pandemic maze
ignorant of what was ahead of us.
The walls were distant:
China, Iran, Italy.
As the walls closed in
we waved good-bye
to our family, friends, neighbors.
“See you on the other side,”
we called out, thinking
the other side would be like
the side we were walking away from.
Not thinking
some of us would never see
the other side,
Not thinking
the other side would be
totally different.
As the walls closed in,
each pathway narrowed
to fit one person.
Each pathway filled
with dry brambles,
thick with thorns.
We had to keep moving,
even as brittle twigs
scoured our legs and arms,
crumbled into our hair.

#National Poetry Month

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Poems for Before I Die, 2


I will die.
I am a human.
Death is always the end
of each human’s story.
Death is there,
Invisible,
Not announcing itself,
Waiting for its chance.
Sometimes it will catch you
Unaware
The sudden heart attack
The massive stroke
Blood clots wandering
through veins, arteries, capillaries.
Sometimes it bangs on your body,
The breathlessness that alerts you
To those blood clots
Collecting in your  lungs.
The abdominal pain that alerts you
To the cancer on some organ
that’s playing Bach’s Requiem.
The cough that whistles
Lung cancer.
Sometimes it’s caught by surprise,
the mammogram,
the pelvic smear,
the EKG.
So many diseases
Waiting to sneak up on you.
If you thought about them
All of the time
There would be no future.
Usually Death comes singly.
You might not know anyone
Who died
All of last year,
Or the year before.
Pandemic is Death made global.
It waves its name in front of your face.
It prances and cavorts and plays
With the doctors and nurses
Who stand between we humans
And Death.
Pandemic assaults everyone
Whether you get sick or remain well.
You are marked
by the fear
by the anticipation
by the relief
of waking up each morning,
Still breathing.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Poems for Before I Die 1


I am not going to die soon
I have not been diagnosed
with anything
specific
I have been diagnosed with
Being old,
over 70,
The virus takes aim at my lungs
which saw an invasion years ago
when I wasn’t paying attention,
when there wasn’t anything
to pay attention to.
It's called MAI.
It has a name, but it 
won't kill me. 
So I am afraid.
I am fearful of droplets
In the air
On surfaces
On the surface of my newspaper?
Not likely, but
not impossible.
I wash my hands
I wash my hands
I wash my hands
I wash my hands.
And I wash my hands again.