PANDEMIC:  A WORLDWIDE COMMUNITY POEM (220 POETS – 16 COUNTRIES AROUND THE WORLD) / Muse-Pie Press

Muse-Pie Press
Publishing Poetry since 1980
 
 
 
PANDEMIC: A WORLDWIDE COMMUNITY POEM
 
• 220 POETS
• 16 COUNTRIES AROUND THE WORLD
• My name listed among the Community Poets
• My poetry line: Hearts together we shall overcome this evil. invisible blitz …is in #Section 7
 
Pandemic: A Worldwide Community Poem is a poem comprised of lines submitted by 220 poets from sixteen countries around the world. Each poet submitted one line, and every single line submitted was used in the poem with no additional lines added. Compiled and Crafted by R.G. Rader, publisher of Muse-Pie Press, the poem represents a range of emotions and thoughts on how this pandemic has affected our lives and our world. There is also a recording of R.G. Rader reading the poem. (Please note that any indentation in the poem is a continuation of the full line each poet submitted and is indented for emphasis, meaning, or rhythm.)
 
 
Community Poets
 
Adeiza Atureta
Adele Kenny
Alan Brit
Alarie Tennille
Ali Jacs
Alison Denham
Allan Lake
Amit Parmessur
Amit Shankar Saha
Amy Baskin
Ananya Guha
Anatoly Kudryavitsky
Andrew P. Weston
Aneek Chatterjee
Anna Teresa Slater
Anthony Lawrence
Anthony Nannetti
Anthony Ward
Anuja Ghimire
Anushree Prashant
Austin Alexis
Barbara A. Taylor
Benedict Tisa
Bernadette Gallagher
Beverley Teague
Bianca Bowers
Bill Kenney
Bill Kirton
BN Oakman
Bob Carlton
Bob Lucky
Bob Meszaros
Bob Perkins
Brian Beatty
Brian Kirk
Cameron Griffiths
Carrie Magness Radna
Casey Holman
Cathy Cavallone
CE O’Rourke
Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon
Changming Yuan
Charles D. Tarlton
Charmaine Thomson
Chen-ou Liu
Cheryl Chaffin
Chet Corey
Chris Bays
Chris Mooney-Singh
Christine Redman-Waldeyer
Claire Zoghb
Clarissa Aykroyd
Clark Holtzman
Claudia Serea
Colin Bell
Colin Pink
Craig Kittner
Daniel Klawitter
Daniel May
David Adès
David Babatunde Wilson
David C. Kopaska-Merkel
David Colodney
David Kenneth Braden-Johnson
David Susswein
Deborah Rosch Eifert
Dennis Andrew S. Aguinaldo
Dennis Tomlinson
Deryn Pittar
Diana Stevens
Diane Alvine
Diane Jackman
Diane Webster
dl Mattila
Donna Gagnon
Dorsía Smith Silva
Doug Pugh
Edward Ian Cibula
Edytta Anna Wojnar
Elissa Gordon
Emeniano Acain Somoza Jr.
Emily Strauss
Fiona Sinclair
Gail Ingram
Gavin Lucky
Gearoid O’Brien
Genevieve S. Aguinaldo
George E. Clark
George Young
Georgina Titmus
Glenn Pape
Grace Marie Grafton
Gregory Piko
Guinotte Wise
Hélène Boucher
Hashim Khan
Helen Bottum
Helen Vivienne Fletcher
Herb Kauderer
Hiram Larew
Husain Abdulhay
Isabel Chenot
J.S. MacLean
James Conroy
Jamie Steckelberg
Jared A. Carnie
Jean Conte
Jena Whitaker
Jennifer Chrystie
Jennifer R. Shloming
Jennifer Saunders
Jenny Clay
Jessamine O Connor
Jim Burke
Joanna M. Weston
John Biscello
John Davis Jr.
John Hawkhead
John J. Han
John Sweet
Joyce Parkes
Julie Bloss Kelsey
K. Bartholomew
Karen O’Leary
Karlo Sevilla
Kate Falvey
Katerina Neocleous
Kathy Lohrum Cotton
KB Ballentine
Keith Nunes
Kelley J. White
Kimmo Rosenthal
Kirk Van Dyke
Kit Kennedy
Kristina Jensen
Larry Schug
Laura L. Hill
Laura Swiggum
Laurice Gilbert
Laurie Kolp
Leonard Dabydeen [Canada]
Levi Wagenmaker
Linda Collins
Linda Conroy
Lisa Meserole
Liz Jacoby
Lois Elaine Heckman
Lonnard Dean Watkins
Lonnie Monka
Luke Bauerlein
M. Shayne Bell
Marc Beaudin
Marc Carver
Marc Swan
Marc Ten Low
Maria Borrelli
Mark G Pennington
Mark J. Mitchell
Mark Arvid White
Mary Cresswell
Mary-Jane Grandinetti
Maureen Sudlow
Michael Beal
Michael Griffith
Michael Jones
Michelle Lerner
Mike Dillon
Mutiu Olawuyi
Nana Liu
Nancy Lubarsky
Nancy Scott
Nathalie Boisard-Beudin
Neil Banks
Nikita Parik
Norene Griffin
Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad
Pamela Sumners
Pamelyn Casto
Patty Dickson Pieczka
Paul Doty
Paul Robert Mullen
Peter Goulding
Peter Roberts
Peter Schneider
Pragya Dhiman
Preeti Shah
R. Bremner
Rachel Green
Radha Chakravarty
Raymond Byrnes
Rob Gourley
Robin Helweg-Larsen
Robin Sinclair
Roger Pfingston
Roger Suffling
Ron Riekki
Rosa O’Kane
Rose Mary Boehm
Ruth Arnison
Sandip Saha
Sarmistha Gupta
Shannon Joy Wazny
Shawn Fiore
Sheikha A
Sheri Vandermolen
Shilpa Dikshit Thapliyal
Stefanie Bennett
Stephen Dodson
Sterling Warner
Subhadip Majumdar
Sujatha Warrier
Susan Howard
Teddy Kimathi
Tiana Cutright
Tina Hacker
Tobey Hiller
Tyson West
Valentine Okolo
Vicki Iorio
Yokei
 
Pandemic: A Worldwide Community Poem is a poem comprised of lines submitted by 220 poets from sixteen countries around the world. Each poet submitted one line, and every single line submitted was used in the poem with no additional lines added. Compiled and Crafted by R.G. Rader, publisher of Muse-Pie Press, the poem represents a range of emotions and thoughts on how this pandemic has affected our lives and our world. There is also a recording of R.G. Rader reading the poem. (Please note that any indentation in the poem is a continuation of the full line each poet submitted and is indented for emphasis, meaning, or rhythm.)
 
 
PANDEMIC: A COMMUNITY POEM
 
 
1
And the world came together in isolation—
re-hearing the earth’s music—
From space the sky discovered civilization
And suddenly, our hands and breaths became the enemy
The Black Swan has glided in for a landing
electric fingers scream past tumbleweed clouds
We are at the mercy of a one-eyed caged bird
The beast is born but we can’t know its impenetrable meaning
The air remains open, from song to terror
In what we later called the year of the Never Was
an alien multiplier in search of a host to do its bidding
There’s something missing on our streets
Our cauldron of time is nearly empty.
Let us consume our final spoonfuls
the slow drift into dust dry days
 
 
 
2
 
here – in a sense – we all are
How to measure our days on Pandemic Time,
the calendar scarred with cancellations
we close windows against the rain in a house that’s now our world
forced into isolation, not even the wind has a friend to bump into
as it courses through the day
I’m not immune to the endemic of isolation sweeping the world
It haunts my ghoulish dreams and I wake up in its presence
Watching TV episodes taped before March 2020 is like
traveling back in time when crowds were not dangerous
Trapped inside a horror novel that would not sell
words like hydroxychloroquine
are more fun than words like democracy,
words sent too soon to antiquity
Veganism is the cure,
whereas animal exploitation is the cause of the outbreak
Goodbye, climate changers, bee killers, ocean polluters
Goodbye.
This children’s play facility is closed,
use of the swings will incur strict penalties
I will not bow to a virus I intend to defeat!
I want to wake up with another man’s dreams
My yearning for a pint of Guinness shames my screen-shocked eyes
contemplating the irrelevance of my wallet
gathering dust on the mantelpiece.
I watch tv every night as the count continues, the count-up,
from the no account government where the dead don’t count.
I tell of evil luck, of plagues, of deaths, of dates of doom,
of never seeing an EMT in a poem,
with this job I stay-away-from-home
instead of planning the unplannable just begin to build–
build the next tower of babel
and so america, goodbye, this asshole you elected has left you to die
I scream, “Let’s dissent, go out, run free!” You say,
“There’s no point – we aren’t real rebels if there’s no one to see.”
The Mad King leads the dance of the dead
We are being herded like sheep
This country is bat shit crazy
In this White House Rose Garden, no songbirds sing
We suffer and die
as we impose the same
on the nonhuman denizens of our common home
Nature, the creator-destroyer, will have final say
Will I ever leave the house again?
It’s not hard to believe that care is far
from the only thing that forgot us.
Humans are being butchered by Covid 19
the origin of which is not yet surely known.
behind and beyond every headline
Coronavirus turns carnivorous
coronavirus swishing to the ends of the earth
some things won’t get fixed
Invisible as gas, deadly and indiscriminate
Death runs reckless as wind this spring
It steals our moments but steals children’s dreams
How do we learn to live with a killer among us?
 
 
 
3
 
Still observing our compulsory Lent
I elbow-bump my drunken shadow on the wall
Life: sequence of stairways …
up,
down
a fierce species unable to attack its foe begins to eat itself
Pour me another quaratini
When each new normal seems prematurely suspect,
& novel precedes countless consequences
I’ve forgotten what I used to complain about.
The future is nothing but a trick of the imagination
The decade just passed saw this poet live as solitary
as the days now forged by Covid-19 for the many;
the difference, the chance of a choice.
This rupture has holed our collective ataraxia forever
All the dogs were headed east
Surreal, from exposed front line
to shut front door
Turkey vultures swoop and glide behind my eyes
Robodog is on coronavirus patrol
Worldwide, women let their hair go grey
Lockdown makes no difference to a recluse.
Stay safe
Our tree brains swell against their walnut shells
Discreet and cloaked, pain-breathing poison,
exposing the truth of every human heart
Hear Nature’s clear meaning, please people pay heed.
Days bleed as breath once spread
history cycles ruthlessly through the flesh of the poor
tygers burnt covid stalks
our herd’s halting
no seed in my backyard sprouts this cruel spring
Decanted, we broker an antiseptic dawn to rinse this standstill
muted
no hugs, no kisses
Wretched warriors
In the tight cluster of houses
there seemed to be more cats than people
My social media reality administers a din of platitude
Stars spit at me in their death throes,
and the sky reaches down and slaps me again and again
I pay for my health with gratitude and hopelessness
Dawns I wake up to shadows howling on the barbed wire of fear
I sir, am ruddy and peaked like the thrum-thrum-thrumming blue jay
now bound in solitary
as I suck on a peppermint
stretch my cage cribbed wings to make flight plans
all these frequent flyer miles and nowhere to go
Just my urban lot, no travel
to find this summer’s unhindered stars.
Now into week whatever, I forget how it feels
to shake a stranger’s hand.
We hope it’s the last time and that it won’t last
Waking to light’s anxiety – the distance of all things
Alone, together, we wait for an answer
 
 
 
4
 
Covid clouds against my rainbow breath
Like star-nosed moles we navigate this Coronavirus,
aka, Covid-19
I hunker in the vault of home, gripped by agoraphobia
Agoraphobia paranoia;
shut-in soliloquy.
Life is bubbles struggling with trusting and using.
Fluxed between the pillows, and the blankets and the mattress,
my phone was the one that glowed,
I wondered when I let man become my clock.
The moments when things are as they were meant to be
are “scarcely a measurable span between while and while” 1
Forlorn and silent the ghost town lies cradled in slumber
Oceania: nothing to disclose but the stone jaw of Rapanui
worry thaws a particular immunity to breaking down
and honestly begging the grass to grow
Wartime in peace quiets the ambient noise
as birdsong blooms to the fore
Shelter in place, and even the birds depend on me to feed them
Roaming our droop-headed lanes, Hundun-like.
on its regular route an empty bus
The sign above the motorway says Be Kind
so I am kind to the silence
as it stretches out, and closes in, stretches out, and closes.
Unmasked twenty-somethings in fast cars,
the vibration of music calls me to dance.
The world over, fingertips are in the grip of oximeters
that pulse infrared light, reading
oxygen rise
oxygen fall,
reading hope.
there is talk among the masses in the isolationverse
Lockdown isolation generates its own music
When I was Covid-19 and you were twenty-one
(He had the face of Morrissey, Steven Tyler’s body,
and a t-shirt that read ANTI-SOCIAL DISTANCING)
to smell your neck, stroke your skin,
as your zoomed eyes beam memories set in flat smiles
If only there was no cure for love’s infection.
Quiet among chaos can feel a lot like guilt.
You will be OK if you hide away
and keep your faith in fear
like a museum piece I am safe behind glass
Old mirror never lies as I return to it
after a long journey of dust coated face and stand in front
Six feet. Wash hands. Doorknob contemplation.
Pronged news. Wash hands. Repeat.
social distancing: being social at a distance is being distant and alone
Six feet is five too far for this one
tumbling toward a medley of mums … face masks
I never believed facemasks and gloves
would become fashion items much desired and loved
Eyes walk miles on crow’s feet, while lips lie swathed and masked.
Though our masks do not prevent
our depressions, our cancers, our fears
Sorrow, remote and acute, raging in each stifled sobs
Even the sky is masked, whispering of rain
Strangers stay strangers, no faces, just eyes.
I see only her eyes and the silence of fear
 
 
 
5
 
What do you do when you run out of tears?
Thoughts change faster than you blink.
We hold our life’s breath like a secret deep inside us
the word positive devours me like hungry monsters in my sleep
In this spring, the grass grows tall while I shrink into myself
Yellow flowers and red ants whispering
to the drowsy avenue in awed evenings
Weathered reflections layered on mirrors and monitors with wings
Cracked cup and all, I abide, the distant thrum of birds above me.
A tree whispers its name
whispers its children’s names to a birthing earth
whispers listen. a legacy, a last breath
a hope splintered by wooden hands,
to a wind ever-moving
Touch Me Not disambiguates our plant, book,
the time we have left
The world is a windowless room trapped inside my heart,
and a small child sits upon my lap
my window, closed. But Still, the clattering of birds,
shouting out their voice,
deafens me
And all the time I am thinking Doug and me,
we’re strong as rocks.
Isolated, I hold tight my loves – safe in the fond chamber of my heart
I don’t count the days, what counts is now
the castle will keep, the world is at bay
I’m not doing well, but
I just might be one of the luckiest people on earth
Battered yet blessed, I attempt serenity while surrounded by chaos
This precious time through pandemic,
writing our hearts, living quietly,
aching to touch again.
my family six feet from a hug
I dive through my loneliness into teeming ancient seas
Some time remains still.
Today I’m helpless against time and death
my notebook is full,
the house quiet, laundry folded, dinner cleared
My fear cannot shrink back into its nap by the step stool;
it is riddled by this ambush that we will never come back from
Imprisoned, only poetry can sustain me
it is a miniscule thing of great import,
the tiniest of hammers can crack a soul or a world
If you close your eyes, can you hear the sea-shell hiss of silence
Solitude consoles the more memories enfold.
I am taking up patience
waiting by the window for the world to restart
 
 
 
6
 
We have seen our lives in time lapse
Ye burst man’s flaws –
the have, haven’t
Hope’s daughters are always birthmarked with hard times.
As the parks empty, my head is crowded with lost people—
artists, legends, and ordinary folk who spent their lives
making ends meet or keeping us safe.
a string of lights connecting every house,
dimming one by one
Sunrise signals the finish of another marathon day
Another day. Which is it? How to fill its hours?
with the ache of distance the days unravel
we clot, we block, we lack the faculty to inspire
The hardest part for me is not knowing
While we counted the dead, others counted their toilet paper
Statistics have faces in distractions.
Grief hidden behind the masks – homes turned to fortresses
The statistics march endlessly
along the bottom of the screen
in funeral procession
Fresh graves in the cemetery—
waist high mounds of Chesterfield clay
Covid-19…my uncle a casualty
Death stepped on the back of my shoe
a place in her I cannot touch, she is so close 2
Predictively, my mother’s sad eyes did not show up on the graph.
On my watch the virus swept away my mother
vessel of my arrival—
leaving me no means of return.
Her final night’s wings ruffle the air,
leaves brush together and murmur of passage
No funeral: Graveside, a few face-masked relatives, six feet apart.
I heard the owl call your name again and again.
Six feet apart or six feet under, you choose.
The park’s too crowded, we take our daily walk in the cemetery.
No one cures death; a cure is mere delay.
easing out, we come to nothing
We grieve for the unborn generations
breathing our lungs closer to our hearts
 
 
 
7
 
falling, falling — the innocence of rain from before time
But it is spring, blossom on the trees and birds are free to sing
When the roads are silent, animals tiptoe in,
and the wind regains her song
The rosebush is blooming as it never has before
and it has drawn me outside, into the world.
During this sorrowful time,
how can strawberries be so outrageously sweet?
The moon: full, free, immune
It is raining in the darkness
and you can hear the sound of water
This Spring a melancholy grace scatters the stars
never before has the horizon looked so wistful
for this time nothing came between the sky
and its reflection upon the waters
with each new sun,
we clutch to life still breathing
as stars kept company by wings of crickets.
The world was silent again and the buzzing of the bees
and the chirping of the birds could be heard again.
nosegays of black-eyed Susan bent down the hedges
Meanwhile, in backyards, azaleas bloom white and red and
forsythias in bloom are flames against the cerulean sky
Today, five kereru, despite lockdown, flew into my garden 3
Spaced along the fence, six seagulls and a Molly Hawk, social distancing
Dandelion clocks sink so slowly
they’re floating through the brilliant air
Cherry blossoms, apple blossoms, irises, lilacs, dandelions, morning glories—
with the joint grasses and the willow tree,
with the larks and the robins: self-quarantined.
the tiny harebell, white as the moon, still calls to the moth
Those paired honkings are geese flying to the river,
not guests at the door
At the doorstep, an offering, homemade honey lemon tea
so small, this world I thought I knew
Hearts together we shall overcome this evil, invisible blitz [by Leonard Dabydeen, Canada]
Let’s dance into this blessing like skeleton leaves,
letting light and water cleanse
and purify our deepest dysfunctions
Voices crossed empty roads, distance drawing us closer
voices will keep singing for all time
How much longer will the world hold its breath?
But ever yet remember: the holy outweigh the hell-hearted
Now we are all astronauts,
the stars might sing us as we hope to be
As above, so below—portals are opening everywhere,
aided by Grace who is calling us to lovingly dare.
What we need now is glow — The sort of night that embers make…
Stand at the window, reach out beyond walls
Be strong, then go about the work of angels.
 
 
Footnotes
 
1 from Rainer Maria Rilke, The Duino Elegies
2 For Kelly Sauvage Angel
3 The kereru is New Zealand’s only native pigeon. It was voted 2018’s Bird of the Year.
To see one or two in the city is noteworthy. To see five is rare indeed.
 
© Muse-Pie Press 2020

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