Three Poems: “The Year That Wouldn’t End” “Inside” and “In the Balance”

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photo via Visual Hunt

It feels as if there will never be another year as bizarre as 2020, though, considering the possibilities of unending virus, climate crisis and democracy in peril, it may be the beginning of a new, bizarro universe. Here are three recent poems I’ve written to keep myself human.

The Year That Wouldn’t End

When January 1st came
We expected another familiar round
Instead we’ve been treated
To a cycle of days
That wobble and loop
Awkward rhythms and negative news
Sweeping us up
Into the stratosphere
With the moon
Beyond the recognizable
We drift and swerve
Groundless and degrees of terrified

The calendar still exists
Showing the ninth of twelve months
Nearing its end, though usual markers of time
Have blended into dust
Summer came and went
Without hint of vacation
The sun now sets earlier
But I no longer drive toward it
No more classroom commute
School year began weeks ago
Classrooms are still empty
The NBA Playoffs are colliding
With MLB’s October’s Postseason
All the balls in the air at once

None of this surprises anymore
Because our capacity for surprise
Has been extinguished
Unlike the flames up and down
The West Coast
A November election drifts ahead
Waiting on the wind
While the nation remains paralyzed
While the word “vaccine”
Hovers, sky-written among the ash.

Inside

The meteorologists
Whisper to the doctors
“Tell them all not to breathe
Until Sunday.”

The unPresident
Thumbs to his people
The virus and the fires
Will all be gone soon
As children are airlifted to safety
And thousands more test positive
While homes turn to ash.

The students
Somehow expected to finish
To believe in what they’ve been told
Are watching the screens

The parents on computers
Perusing mindlessly
The delivery company.

The scientists
Experiencing mild heart attacks
Their research ignored
Close to meaningless.

The Earth
Continues spinning
Ever so slowly
Pale blue dot
On a black sea
Tiny humans
Gradually gaining awareness
How silly and strange
This experience
Of consciousness

In the Balance

How is a democracy reborn
Without death?
How is gravity tested
And how much gravity is needed?

We have never learned
The depth of mystery
Surrounding us
Yet now we seem closer.

What goes up
Touches back down
Even if a yellow balloon
Drifts off over the treetops.

With good hearts
We rarely hope for death
A human instinct: to value life
But with this one…

Humanity once overflowing
Now draining, we stumble
Toward November.
The year, not yet complete
A force unmasked
Leaving nothing
As it was before.

Writing. Poetry. Personal Essays. On the NBA, MLB, media, journalism, culture, teaching and humor.

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