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Three Realities of COVID                          


I. Confine


We are asked to strand ourselves

make our house an island.


Protection Island out our window

now seems an elder.


How long will it be? What if it’s longer

than the stalwart freezer can give?


How close to touch live skin

will we get again?


How often to venture out?

For what essential or forgotten thing?


Where will cash come from?

What bills can be paid?        


Any checks in the mail today?

Pray tomorrow.


How long will

neighbor helping neighbor hold ?


The world is focused

upon big cities at least


a coast away.

My little town shuttered and shuddering


braced for the maybe,

maybe the certainty of losing


store, job, neighbor, life.

The only certainty;


yesterday is gone.

Masks and soap


enough food and FedEx

the essentials – unless


they run out of things to deliver.

Patience is courage.


A red breasted house finch

flies in softer, lighter air,


its song a joyful hymn

calm, bright and free.





II  Conflict


Witness the daily screed

catch every word


count the




“they will magically disappear’s”.


Ego balloons defensive

accusations a covering fire to


doubt, confusion,

from hoax


to fifteen cases

then two million


now one hundred-thousand dead.

Now more. Now more. No more.


Blood-eyed vulture tears

at the sinews of our future.







There is a smell

to warm leather

almost sweat or

am I projecting?


Someone, five minutes

before, sat where

I am now, talked,

clung to a tassle


on the Moroccan pillow

golds, browns, reds

they spilled their hearts

admitted their worries


sobbed, took a tissue

from the box on the

next cushion, still there;

their warmth drained


into the leather


round arms, high back

I have now sunk into


reaching for the pillow

ready for my turn to bleed.




III    Convalesce


We’ve stopped the suffocating

spray of your oil


into your water, your sky.

You are freed from our need to go


as fast as we can

as far as we wish


as often as we please.

We’ve exhausted you


taken more than our fair share

not asked


thanked or honored you

as if we owned


not owed you.

I will be the least I can


let you breathe

be your tempered witness.


Turtles come to empty shores, laden with

leathery eggs, replenish in quantity.




Mt. St. Helens

Nineteen Eighty


A grape stained piece of canvas

held ryebread,

Jonathan apples,


Camembert cheese

an anonymous bottle of wine

theifed from a barrel, tagged


with brix sugar, crush date.

We worked Yamhill vineyards

pulled weeds, liberated, trained


vines, absorbed the metre,

measure of – outside, felt gentle

pulse of a volcano as it sighed in, out


purging what was too much for it

to hold. We watched the volcano channel,


sixty miles away, it filled the screen.

We sat on the tailgate in red

Dundee hills drank in life as St. Helens


built to deadly, silent then,

uncaring of our point

in its time.

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