Day 74: Last Day of the Lockdown

“I have not been able to touch the destruction
within me.
But unless I learn to use
the difference between poetry and rhetoric
my power too will run corrupt as poisonous mold
or lie limp and useless as an unconnected wire
and one day I will take my teenaged plug
and connect it to the nearest socket
raping an 85 year old white woman
who is somebody’s mother
and as I best her senseless and set a torch to her bed
a greek chorus will be signing in 3/4 time
“Poor thing.  She never hurt a soul. What beats they are.”

-Power, Audre Lorde, American poet, 1934-92.

The end has come.  Whatcom County in Washington State entered Phase 2 today.  In town the neon “OPEN” signs are on.  Emotional yo-yo beat down.  Took two aspirin and laid flat atop the bed.  I’ve been laying down too much these months, yet I needed it again.  Everything around me demands it is essential that I get up.  A chirping bird outside my window gave a speech, my phone rang twice with instructions.  At 4:00 p.m. I listen to the news on my old clock radio, but the man sounded much like the bird in the bush–they won’t shut up.  Take a breath, give someone else a chance to speak, I think.

credit- https://mynorthwest.com/1906245/live-updates-seattle-bellevue-protests/, June 2, 2020

I’m feeling a bit skewed. Disjointed. Unconnected, but not in a way you’d expect after three months of quarantine.  You see, outside my window there is order. Inside my TV is a disorder. Walking my neighborhood are masked smiles and friendly nods. Online our nation is shouting and demanding justice.  I watch from my desk and in my mind, I am with them.  I’m at the fence of the White House demanding Trump resign.  In the fog of Netflix and binge-watching–are these riots real?  Is this a dark comedy out of control?  Can it be touched? I could run with the crowds, get an eyeful of pepper spray, just two hours south of me.  Seattle is sweeping up glass.  It is nearby if I want it.  Feeling thankful for the peacemakers if they are indeed real.  Please be real. Please succeed.

Twenty years from now if someone asked you what it was like to live during The Great Pandemic of 2020, what will you tell them?  The lockdown is over and I don’t have the words right now.  Please call again later, thank you.

My mood expressed by a meme.

 

Day 68: SAY THEIR NAMES

SOCIAL DISTANCING | SOCIAL JUSTICE

Video credit: The brief history of racism within the Minnesota police explained by reporter Rachel Maddow, MSNBC.  #GeorgeFloyd

This morning my bedroom is dark.  An early morning thunderstorm blocks the sky.  It formed over Seattle, traveled 90 miles to reach Bellingham at 9:12.  It swipes across our landscape as it continues its path towards the Canadian Rockies. The thunder shakes the earth.  The earth needs to be shaken.

A poet friend posted “Say Their Names”, by Seattle poet Mercedes Aristotle Lindholm. It is shared below.  I am not very good at talking or writing about atrocious events.  My God—I’ve written about the death of my daughter in my book “Fallen”, I’ve written about homelessness, domestic abuse, even freakin’ break up poetry, but this…over and over again, this goddamn two decades of documented abuse…with no reaction by civic leaders–I have no words.  Words literately escape me.  It’s too much.

I can’t write about trump.  I am outraged, gobsmacked, dumbfounded.  My ears are assaulted EVERY DAY during this neo-nazi president’s rule AND amazed that the “Teflon Don” isn’t slapped in the head and dragged off to jail.  It is not unlike the way police officers, fresh from the kill of unarmed black citizens, escape true justice. How?  Why?

I do not like trump’s america.  I want a Land Of The Free America, I beg for an All Created Equal America!

Minnesota police arrest CNN reporter and crew on live TV as they cover Minneapolis protests
PUBLISHED FRI, MAY 29 20206:51 AM EDT

I am weak.  I can not write. I look to others like Mr. Lindholm.
Please, read his poem out loud:

 

SAY THEIR NAMES
SAY THEIR NAMES
SAY THEIR NAMES

I grew up as a black man in the United States.
We used to throw snowballs at cop cars to get them to chase us because we, and the officers were bored. No one was trying to be violent.
Today I would like to do what ever I wanted.
However I fear that I can not.
Some think I am paranoid or overreacting.
Thank G.O.D. my children look white,
however they now both identify as black.

I fear to go birding (#ChristianCooper)
I fear to go jogging (#AmaudArbery)
I fear to relax in the comfort of my own home (#BothemSean and #AtatianaJefferson)
I fear to ask for help after being in a car crash (#JonathanFerrell and #RenishaMcBride)
I fear to have a cellphone (#StephonClark)
I fear to leave a party to get to safety (#JordanEdwards)
I fear to play loud music (#JordanDavis)
I fear to sell CDs (#AltonSterling)
I fear to sleep (#AiyanaJones)
I fear to walk from the corner store (#MikeBrown)
I fear to play cops and robbers (#TamirRice)
I fear to go to church (#Charleston9)
I fear to walk home with Skittles (#TrayvonMartin)
I fear to hold a hair brush while leaving my own bachelor party (#SeanBell)
I fear to party on New Years (#OscarGrant)
I fear to get a normal traffic ticket (#SandraBland)
I fear to lawfully carry a weapon (#PhilandoCastile)
I fear to break down on a public road with car problems (#CoreyJones)
I fear to shop at Walmart (#JohnCrawford)
I fear to have a disabled vehicle (#TerrenceCrutcher)
I fear to read a book in my own car (#KeithScott)
I fear to be a 10yr old walking with my grandfather (#CliffordGlover)
I fear to decorate for a party (#ClaudeReese)
I fear to ask a cop a question (#RandyEvans)
I fear to cash a check in peace (#YvonneSmallwood)
I fear to take out my wallet (#AmadouDiallo)
I fear to run (#WalterScott)
I fear to breathe (#EricGarner)
I fear to live (#FreddieGrey)
I CAN NOT BE ARRESTED WITHOUT THE FEAR OF BEING MURDERED (#GeorgeFloyd)

This fear is NOT NEW either.
I am blessed to know my G.O.D.
and to know when to shut up and keep my head down.
I have been arrested and incarcerated many times for no reason with no charges.
Been in cuffs in the back of cop cars starting at the age of 11, more times than I can literally count.
I have had a knee of a cop on my neck 3 times before I was 18.
I have had multiple guns pointed at me dozens of times. I have been taken from my property and stripped and given a RED jumpsuit for standing my ground!
And I am one of the fucking “GOOD GUYS”!!This is why now, I know how deal with cops.

Love and Light!…
peace is still a ways off I guess.

Mercy LnL
Seattle, WA
https://www.facebook.com/ari.lindholm

 

Protesters gather near the 3rd Precinct in Minneapolis during a rally Tuesday in response to the death the day before of George Floyd in police custody. Richard Tsong-Taatarii | Star Tribune via AP

https://www.mprnews.org/story/2020/05/26/fbi-bca-investigate-death-of-man-in-minneapolis-police-custody

Day 65: One Hundred Million Suns

“What the wise do in the beginning, fools do in the end.”  Warren Buffett

Guessing by the news last week, Whatcom County will be asked to shelter in place another month.  I didn’t think we had it that bad.  Of the 1055 deaths in our state, Whatcom has experienced only 36.  Today the total death count for the US is 99,624 according to google search CORVID-19 alert page.  In March, I heard the scientist estimating the deaths nationwide could reach 250,000.  That’s not too many, right? Please let me out!  …I must be in the negotiating stages of grief now.

It’s 8:10 in the morning here.  A neighbor is having problems with their smoke alarm.  Each of our apartments has two.  I believe both were going off at one point.  I’ve had a morning like that.  Poor neighbor.  These alarms are set off by smoke not heat, typically triggered by cooking.  What I learned is to quickly grab a bathroom towel and rotate it like a helicopter blade under the smoke detector, turn on ALL the fans, open ALL the windows, even the door if you have to.  It’s the quickest way.  Whoever they are, they’ve been at it for 20 minutes now.  Sounds like they don’t know the towel trick.

In the back of my mind, I realize it could really be a fire.  Oil in the pan, a candle on a blanket, electrical… how fast would this building burn?  Let’s see 23 units, built in 1976, so its 44 years old.  Does that mean it will burn faster or slower?  What would I grab?

Last winter I thought about grabbing everything I own and leaving America.  I was (and still am) so discouraged by our country’s leaders I wanted to become an expat and relocate to Mexico, Spain, Cuba, even South Korea, anywhere but the United States.   Alarms in the distance warning us of trouble.  Complacency argues the trouble is “over there”, it hasn’t reached my door stoop yet, I’m fine, I’m safe.  Apathy says what are the chances it’s a real fire? Who cares? Everythings fine.  Laziness tells me pour yourself another cup of coffee, get back into bed and turn on Netflix.

Logic (not to be confused with Loki) tells me, it is not a fire.  Not anymore.  Listen.  The beeping is reduced to one alarm, and it corresponds with the low rumble of a large diesel truck, possibly 2 blocks over working on the road.  A new breezeway trail is being constructed through a field of blackberries. The fire alarms I heard over a half-hour ago have morphed into a backhoe going forward and backward clearing the sticky stubbornness.  A symphony of sound composed by the neighborhood this morning!  A lesson embedded of course, as all lessons are if we listen close enough.  The lesson I hear is to be ready for an emergency, be thankful, for what you have could be gone in less than 30 minutes, but primarily–when the tone changes the source has too.

**

I want to share this poem from my book “Fallen” 2017.

Another God

by Shannon Laws

I cannot sleep
next to you
The porch light
on the other side
of the curtains
tricks me awake

You look frozen on a canvas,
painted in oils by a master,
shadows lightly brush your shape

I study the back of your head
your ear lobe
a quiet beating vein
the hairline along the neck

There’s a frame of freckles
below the shoulder blade
They look like Orion poised
with bow, arrow aimed upward

I am not your Merope taken by blind force
I am Andromeda, wrists wrapped in iron
ready for monsters to decide loves fate

Gods visit the sheets of women
a vacation from eternity
Taste the finite in the kiss,
wipe their mouths with times mist

I will lose you as I lost others

Tonight your constellation glows in porch light,
while I dream of everything I cannot have

**

Here is my mood expressed by meme.

 


https://sanjuanislander.com/news-articles/government-news/state/31146/san-juan-county-qualifies-for-a-waiver-to-skip-ahead-to-phase-2-under-new-criteria

Day 62: Arguing with Myself

Shower Thoughts from Twitter: If we saw souls instead of bodies, our definition of beauty perfection and our world would be so different.

It’s been a few days.  The days between entries of this Pandemic 2020 Journal have larger spaces between them.  But I am still here, do not worry my five followers, do not worry.

I’m going to break one of the rules I had going into all this–DO NOT EVER appear to be bragging or complaining about work.  OK?  Alright, here we go…  Before going into the shelter in place I was working 56 hours a week, and I still am. (!!) Somehow, the stars lined up and I am in a beautiful Pacific Northwest medium-sized town of 90,000 people, not too dense, not too county, a college town, full of brilliant people of every spectrum; SO brilliant in fact our local labs developed COVID tests, AND BOTH of my jobs are considered essential.  Considering the employment stress I’ve been through the last eight years…well I mean the last twelve years (…well I could go farther back but let’s keep going…)  *clears throat*
Considering all the stress I’ve been through over the last eight years I was relieved.  Relieved is an understatement.  So, I tell you the truth–if both jobs had let me go, and if I had to wait 30 days for my unemployment, I would need the food bank.  I would be next-level-stressed.  In February I had about one month’s worth of bill money and food reserves.  I was working on a savings plan after the holidays. A plan that included saving for a small condo before I’m 60, and a simple vacation for myself this October. It might still happen.  Who knows. A girls gotta dream…

photo credit: bandsintown.com, Firefly, featuring Nels Andrews, 2019

It’s so scary for so many, too many, homes right now, not to mention small businesses.  The Firefly, a popular music bar in town, announced this week on Facebook that they decided to close its doors. Very sad.  Here is my question: will freakin’ big chain companies come in and gobble up the “for sale, foreclosure” retail space in the brick and mortar of cities across the country?  I hope not.  Back in the ’80s, a new law was passed about the gas station’s gas storage tanks.  -true story-  You see there used to be ma and pa gas stations.  Yep.  This new law required an upgrade to those massive underground storage tanks.  However, little if no funding was offered to assist.  This was so expensive to switch out, almost all of the privately-owned gas stations closed and the big names, ARCO, SHELL, CHEVRON, scooped up those ideal corner lots for themselves.  Sons o’ bitches.  I like and support local & small businesses. How will this pandemic change the face of our cities and towns?

CHANGE

I decided to re-pierce the second set of piercings in my ears to mark the change I’ve personally experienced through the pandemic.  I closed them years ago and plan to re-open them at home with a well-sanitized needle.  I’ve already ordered the gold loops.  I never wear gold, but these small loops feel like enough of a sacrifice for my needs.  I NEED a visual reminder of these months.  I feel I must “mark” this change, like how an irregular ring of a tree marks a drought, flood, volcano, or perhaps stunning growth. A scar is demanded!

Crud, it’s a trend! Women Are Leaning In And Loving Their Gray Hair Like Never Before, Huffington Post, April 2020

I’ve changed of course.  My whole body along with a questionable romantic future of any kind.  Most 50-year-old men scoop up the daddy issue filled 35-year-olds that can give them a baby.  50-year-old single men seldom want another 50-year-old woman, so fuck them.  (This attitude will suffice for a few more years so leave me alone…)  Last summer I shaved my head.  It was time to rediscover my natural hair color.  I jumped in, why not.  It’s been six months since my last cut.  Today I have four inches of salt n’ pepper. Then, without warning, menopause snuck in through the cat door.  The hot flashes seem to have stopped, but the hormone imbalance hit me like a ton of bricks, well about 60 pounds of bricks to be exact.  Fuckin’ change.  Life is full of it!

Entering the third month of sheltering in place I am a changed person; physically, spiritually.  Also, I acquired new skills.  (the fun continues) I know how to host a zoom meeting, attend a zoom meeting, how to adjust the lighting in my home for a zoom meeting, and sit with proper posture for two hours to hide a double chin or my loss of interest. I know how to walk a new tenant through a lease signing remotely, how to turn over a family shelter with a turnaround team while social distancing.  I learned I had the computer power to remote into my office platform and create the two weekly and one monthly publications.  I’ve learned how to change the freakin’ battery in a cordless mouse.  I’ve learned to listen to people around me and differentiate between regular panic and pandemic panic.  I give grace and space to both.  I’m on the road about four times a week.  Driving is new.  More bikes, more foggy heads, drivers go too fast, too slow.  A friend use to say, Stay Alert, Stay Alive!  It’s true.  Very true.

**

So here is the new poem I shared this week at Poetry Club: Pandemic Edition.

Can of AIR
by Shannon Laws

The apartment is 500 square feet.
The smells in my 500 square feet are important to me.
I judge my cleanliness which is equal to my humanity by its smells.
It is mid-May, and it is noticeably missing any hint of lavender or vanilla.
Instead, the fragrance of fresh dirt in the newly potted house plants,
and the body oils embedded in the couch fabric touch my nose.
The bathroom smells like soap, shampoo, and Lysol as I want it to.

Does everyone know what air smells like? Good clean fresh air?
No, not everyone, everywhere.
Maybe air has no smell so the perfect canister of “air” should be
filled with nothing.
But that doesn’t work either.

If you buy air you want it to be better air than what you are currently smelling.
New and improved air.
The illusion of a clean, happy, healthy home at your fingertips after a fish dinner.
Few want a can of Dusty Closet.

I purchased this can labeled “Air” and I’m not buying it, but I did buy it
now I can’t throw it away until it’s used up, because then I’m wasting money
and that is much worse than being a person in a smelly house.

**

My current mood expressed by meme.  Stay alert, stay alive. -Shannon


https://www.ewg.org/research/mtbe-knowledge/storage-tanks-were-known-be-leaking-1970s-and-1980s

Day 58: God, is it over yet?

Shower Thoughts:  Being proactive is rarely rewarded because if your actions avoid a tragedy, there is no tragedy to prove your actions were warranted.

Hello.  Whatcha up to?  Do you ever stare at the popcorn bumps in the ceiling and try to find shapes?  Sometimes I do.

This morning the sun is sleeping behind the clouds and doesn’t want to come out.  The traffic by about 10 a.m. is normal levels, minus the Canadian shoppers.  People are very anxious to get back to normal.  The hardware stores are busy, some taco trucks are open again.  Yep.

Mt. Rainier seen from the Puyallup Valley, Washington.

I decided to begin putting some words down on this idea for an essay.  I’m hoping to effectively use a childhood experience to explain how important good vegetable and fruit field workers are.  I’ll share a section with you.

When I was growing up…

In the Pacific Northwest, hundreds of kids from the suburbs were sent to the valleys to pick berries. One summer, my brother, two cousins, and I were among the unfortunate to learn lessons, gain skills, and save our parents some babysitting money. We were 10, 11, and 8 year old kids, too young to be left alone all day. You see our parents were from the mid-west.  In the early 60’s they, like thousands of others, left their childhood farm homes right out of high school to move to Seattle for good jobs and a new life.  As small business owners, they sold the idea of berry picking to us as an “easy way” to earn pocket money for the summer—but it was a trick.  We heard it in their voices.  When we fought and push came to shove, finally, the truth came out, “We want you to learn good work ethics like we did milking cows before school! It’ll be good for you!”  Our parents have lost their minds. Come this Tuesday in a warm 1978 June, my brother, two cousins and I were being bussed to hell.

Before sunrise, the grownups put us on a bus that conveniently picks kids up at the local school. We each have a sack lunch with our names written on it with a thick black sharpie. The oldest has two dollars in quarters in his pocket in case of trouble.  We are completely unprepared.

The story ends when we are fired from picking strawberries and run into town to buy popsicles.  Suburbanites transferring from an agricultural lifestyle into the true consumers that they were born to be.  Our parents raised us in the sidewalked communities, not the dirt clodden American farmland.  What did they expect?

Here is my mood expressed by meme.  I’m seeing more and more folks meeting up outside this month.  Take care -Shannon

Day 55: Aliens and Hospitals

Shower Thoughts:  It’s a compliment when family thinks of you as friends, and a compliment when friends think of you as family.

So there is one conspiracy theory that the global economic meltdown was designed to finally 1) introduce us to aliens and 2) allow aliens to help us publically.  I’ve had a good time imagining how the world governments will introduce the citizens of Earth to the aliens if this actually happens.  Personally, I think it will be hilarious, and launched with many flaws, OR it could be compared to the second coming of Christ.  Regardless, theatrics and excellent lighting will be involved.  As Dr. Who pointed out, a person can handle the truth, but people can’t.  My prediction is the mobs will divide up; possibly three main groups- aliens good, aliens bad, and the complacent who will not care either way, just don’t take my TV or my job. 

Save us, Space Jesus! Space Jesus is the feeling you get when you travel through a wormhole in a fresh pair of Jordans. https://www.spacejesusmusic.com/

Secret alien lore states there are at least six or seven different species visiting us on a regular basis. They are The Greys- two types one that is tall/thin 6-7 feet and another (possibly unrelated) is a shorter species 4-5 feet, the ones with the elongated heads and tall slender bodies, the beautiful blonde blue-eyed Nordic type, the reptilians, and the reptilian of the shape-shifting variety, the last one that I read of is like a praying mantis in appearance.  Some folks claim to know the planets and the names of the species mentioned, but those descriptions can vary from person to person.  I don’t want to assume anything.  I mean WHY insult the aliens with bad manners when we already insult them with our ignorance?

The word on the secret street is that some of these aliens are pro-human, others are not.  Some work with others to help us, others do not.  There is also a concept that some, possibly the Shadow People,  come from other dimensions, NOT planets.  The idea being humans bust down walls between dimensions every time we explode a nuclear bomb.  Interdimensional aliens slip through the cracks and they are pissed.  Frost’s statement about good fences makes good neighbors is possibly proven true once again.

Guess we’ll have to wait and see how the world recovers from this global economic failure.  For the record, I would like to put in my vote for “being saved by aliens”.  What a fun time to be alive!  Yes, SO much fun.

MEANWHILE…

On a completely different note, this week a news story caught my ear.  Hospitals in America are closing down.  Hospitals in small towns can’t afford to stay open.  Do you know why?  Because there is a halt on all non-essential surgeries, also the injured assume all the hospitals are full of COVID-19 patients and stay home.

It’s an ironic twist as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps the nation: The very workers tasked with treating those afflicted with the virus are losing work in droves. Emergency room visits are down. Non-urgent surgical procedures have largely been put on hold. Health care spending fell 18% in the first three months of the year. And 1.4 million health care workers lost their jobs in April, a sharp increase from the 42,000 reported in March, according to the Labor Department. Nearly 135,000 of the April losses were in hospitals.

“The only people who are coming into the hospitals are COVID-19 patients and emergencies,” says American Hospital Association Executive Vice President Tom Nickels. “All of the so-called elective surgery, hips and knees and cardiac, etcetera, are no longer being done in most institutions around the country.”

What caught my attention is that the loss is at $50 billion expected to top out at $200 billion!  That’s a lot of lettuce.  America has the highest cost of medical expenses.  We are #1 in medical bankruptcies. It is difficult to have empathy for the hospitals, but I defiantly feel bad for the typically underpaid nurses losing their jobs.  It appears this is a good time in our history to switch from private to socialized medicine. Don’t forget, small towns are farms, farms are industry, industrial accidents are common, and to be airlifted to a city hospital is about $2-8,000 dollars billed to the patient!  But it won’t happen as long as the GOP is in charge.  F*ckers.  I would like to end with this thought: a broken leg is not a Democrat or a Republican.  It is something broken that needs to be fixed.

**

Here is my mood in a photo.  TIL that Dame Judi Dench embroiders while on movie sets waiting between scenes.  Below is a sample of her work.
Take care of yourself.  -Shannon.

 


Many Hospitals Are Struggling To Absorb Financial Losses From Non-Coronavirus Patients

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_alleged_extraterrestrial_beings

https://www.npr.org/2020/05/08/852435761/as-hospitals-lose-revenue-thousands-of-health-care-workers-face-furloughs-layoff

Judi Dench’s fantastic embroidery

Day 53: Thinking to Much

Shower Thoughts: If you were invisible, you’d be effectively blind since light would pass through your retina rather than striking it.

This morning I am writing from my bed-desk. I’m thinking about the parts of me that need a shower and weighing that against the effort to leave my warm bed.  The bedroom window is open a bit and the sounds of crows, seagulls, and chickadees, other spring birds, and that goddamn weed wacker play on random all morning.  How many weeds you gotta wack buddy?!  Landscapers in Bellingham are considered essential.  Go figure.

a pink crab-apple in full bloom

The crabapple tree outside the window has wilted. Old blooms still cling to the tree, waiting for the new fruit, developing below the surface, to push them off to the ground.

I heard on the radio this morning that nationally Americans spent less money on food in April than they did in March.  My grocery bills went up this last month because I’m shopping at smaller grocery stores; they have fewer products to help cover the cost for their property taxes, etc.  Are they grocery boutiques?  My cousin told me about a grocery store in the Chicago suburbs, where he use to live, that experimented with a carpeted grocery store.  It grossed everyone out, and you couldn’t navigate your shopping cart very well.  It was a fail.

path around the lake is wide

Friday is my day off.  Unless a “fire” happens with any of the properties or publications the day is mine.  Yep, all mine.

Traffic around town is almost at normal levels.  Many people, including myself, still drive distracted.  Forgetting to signal, not looking both ways, driving way to slow on the freeways.  It’s very strange or maybe it is normal now.

Decided last night to walk by the bay instead of my standard walk around the lake in the old-growth forest.  The park by the bay was packed!  I turned around and headed for another trail I know close by.  I’m just not ready to jump into a crowd yet, and that’s OK.  I’m not like my polar opposites that meet in groups for BBQ’s, house parties, and Capitol protests.  In other states, these folks carry guns in public to help illustrate their rights to assemble, get a haircut, and eat at the Applebees.  True Americans.  I wonder if they assemble because there are no “old” people in their lives?  Are there no friends around them that are “high risk” for the virus? Diabetics? Obese? Over 60-year-olds?  People recovering from cancer or other illness?  That must be it.  How nice of them to speak for us that do.

I look forward to this all being over.  I fear I will discover that my post-lockdown life is as similar to full pandemic mode.  Honestly, I FEEL the pandemic because it is everywhere.  It is a global event. This planet of peoples moan and wiggle like a two-year-old sitting through a piano recital.

IF the world were normal right now, which it will never be again, then I could enjoy this morning.  This morning where I slept in, until 8:37 a.m., ate breakfast & drank coffee in bed, started writing, and I’m still here at 11:36 am. Glorious.  If this was, let’s say, Friday, September 20, 2019, I would not label this morning a case of “pandemic depression”, no…it would be relaxation.  A person could even go so far as to say it is what the pre-pandemic modern world use to refer to as a “personal day.” (remember personal days?) I could find joy in working at home if all my neighbors got into their cars and drove to work this morning! THEN today would be a special day for me.  But, it is not.  It is day 53 of the lockdown, and there is nothing but the heavy responsibility of staying home and saving lives. Whatever…

**

Here is a draft I’m fussing with today:

Eyes Open
by Shannon Laws

I awake with a dry throat
from moaning in my sleep
I’m nailed to my bed
by the sounds of one a.m.

a rustle of false blueberry bush
heavy bodies trot by with a snort
I think I hear an owl a few blocks over
open mouths of raccoons act out a scene
play fight under the staged crab-apple tree

It’s so busy outside
at night
when all I do is sleep

##

My current mood expressed in a meme.  Take care.  Be a hero and stay home.
-Shannon

Day 48: Love Thy Neighbor

“Mr. Coal operator call me anything you please, blue, green, or
red, I aim to see to it that these Kentucky coal miners will not dig your
coal while their little children are crying and dying for milk and bread.”

— Aunt Molly Jackson, the ultimate Pistol Packin’ Mama,(1880-1960)

This morning I’m thinking about The Great Depression of the 1930s.  Over the course of four years, 1929-1933, the unemployment rate reached its peak to  25% of the population. Today, twelve years after The Great Recession of 2008, America’s unemployment rate is 25%.  This morning CNBC reported Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin acknowledged Sunday that the U.S. unemployment rate may have already reached 25% as the administration works to reopen the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The United States Unemployment Rate 1930 to April 2020, April 3, 2020, credit New York Times

I like that word “may”. As if they have no way of telling; probably because the system is so overwhelmed.  There is a good chance the government may not actually know how many are without work, without income, have no savings, have not received a stimulus check.

During The Great Depression, there was a union war.  The folks that were pro-union were among the bravest souls in history. They stood up for their rights in the face of dire circumstances including starvation and death.  Coal miners, exhausted from working +12 hour days, demanded an eight-hour workday, more safety features for the miners, and also a fair wage.  Many union members paid with their lives; the henchmen of the owners shooting some on-site!

Like the Aunt Molly Jackson story and song, today there is an injustice, a darkness, that is costing the lives of many, pressed by the heel of greed and power.  The worldwide shelter in place mandate emphasizes the hurt that was already here.  If the world ever needed the voice of a hero it is now!

Thor, Marvel Comics

Oh, how I wish justice could shine down from heaven like a bolt of lightning and solve all the world’s problems!  I am not political or a part of any militia; I am a poet.  Designed to observe and report.  This is the job of all artists.  Although I have no solution, I have an alarm to sound and it is saying the bent branch has split!  You can no longer demand buds, flowers, or fruit from what has died!  The devotion to the wicked will end quickly! Home of the brave you say?  The brave are in neighborhoods donating time and supplies to their neighbors.  The brave are working in grocery stores and hospitals.   While our leaders lay impotent, the common person once again helps the helpless.  Although I understand the solution to CORVID-19 & why we shelter in place, I am angered that the epidemic of homelessness, disease, and poverty has festered for decades.  In America, WHY is it a constant fight for equal rights, equal pay, a fair living wage, affordable healthcare?  Why is that?

All this week Aunt Mollys song played in my mind while processing some sad news about an acquaintanceThe stoic teaching tells me the obstacle is the way.  We all have our own gutters to climb out of, I hope I am brave enough to reach out a hero’s hand to those around me.


Here is an old poem I shared with the Poetry Discussion group on Saturday.

Lunch at the Sycamore Square
April 2019

Fountain water hits each tier
breaks off into the air
landing on my notebook paper
sprinkles a blank page

A cart of baked bread
rolls by through the courtyard
towards the Italian restaurant
A tourist asks when does
the shoe store open

A dog on leash pisses
on the floor
We all ignore it
even the owner
###

This photo really touched me.  It is my current mood expressed by a news photo.  -take care & be well, Shannon

Nurses week amid the coronavirus: Protest at White House honors the death of nearly 100 nurses, May 7, 2020, (Photo: National Nurses United)

 


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aunt_Molly_Jackson

https://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/dep1929.htm

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/10/coronavirus-mnuchin-says-unemployment-will-rate-get-worse-before-they-get-better.html

Day 43: Negative

Shower Thoughts: It’s adorable we thought 2016 was a terrible year because about 40 famous people died.  

People are comparing 2020 to other years.  Is this the worst?  Maybe.  On a global scale, I would have to say “YES.”  The economic damage worldwide is like nothing we’ve seen.  The extreme pressures on a household to survive AND keep healthy is felt on every block.

Last week I took the COVID-19 test.  It came back negative.  I work with tenants, some of who are high risk for the virus.  Whatcom County has opened up testing for workers like myself.  After announcing the results, a co-worker mentions, “you are negative as of last Wednesday.” Gulp!  What the heck?  We’d need to be tested every day or week?   Wait, is there a Fit-bit app for this? The antibody blood test is what I am really interested in.  I’ve met many people, who, like myself, suspect that they had the virus between the months of January-March before the lockdown began.

Lockdown fatigue is noticeable.  Irritability leading to miscommunication is not uncommon especially with email messages, even video meetings.  I like the philosophy that it is a time of grace and space.  To give it out quickly and in love, to the folks we interact with.  Everyone’s situation is different.  It is easy for me to imagine that a small percentage of my neighbors have 3 to 6 months worth of monthly income saved up in the bank.  Desperate times.  The weight is too much to bear.

I wrote this poem three years ago.  Thinking about it today, looking at my “Apocalypse Shelf”

Apocalypse Pantry
by Shannon P. Laws

I have found the warm caves in the woods
filled them with boxes of mac n’ cheese
tuna fish cans and cheap scented candles
Innumerable goods
A possessed witch is misunderstood
no matter how frugal
I am such a witch
waved my nude arms at the townspeople
walked the streets, survived the shrinking dollar
I have been her kind

 

Here is my current mood expressed by meme.  Take care and be kind. -Shannon

 

Day 38: Raw Poetry

Northwest Washington is experiencing some rain this week.  Most of us are well equipped for walking in the rain, but if you can find a sunshine break to get in a mile or more of a walk it is perfect!

The monthly poetry discussion group I’ve been apart of since October 2015 is meeting on a weekly basis during the shutdown.  We call it Poetry Club: Pandemic Edition, find us on Facebook.  Somehow we have been discussing the work of Robert Frost for ALL of April.  We got stuck on his work and can’t get off that bus.   The discussions are stimulating, nonetheless, thanks mostly to the host Ron Leatherbarrow, who taught Frost at a collegiate level.

Here is the rough poem I’m sharing with the group for critique.  It’s a poem I found in my writing journal from 2017:

Sawdust
by Shannon Laws

“And, as my way is, I begin to dream, resting my elbows on the desk and leaning out of the window a little,” -John Ashbery

As I stand to look out the windows of the factory,
I wish I did not have to sweep this floor on such
a summer’s Saturday.
I imagine, past the trees and along the waterfront,
people are walking with inner peace.
And I envy them—they are so far away from me!
No one has to worry about working five hours of
overtime to help pay their bills.
And, as my way is, I imagine myself small, a doll
in the hand of a god.
The mill—a toy house and the window fills up
with the freckled face of the child that plays.
If the real world is large and I just a toy, still I would
want to run free.
Freedom is better than shelter and care, I bravely think.
But inward I know I only have what others have given.
So, here I am, under the press of having to shovel a
mound of sawdust into the bin.

 


My Netflix queue is Peaky Blinders, Ozark, Dracula, Outlander, the very silly DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and the original Star Trek with special effects remastered.  Star Trek could be a drinking game; take a shot of tequila every time a woman apologizes for almost being raped.  Oh my gosh, I did not know how sexist that show was!

Have a good day!  Be nice to yourself and those around you!  -Shannon