Day 30 — history doing what history does best

Wide NY

Once again, as if to round out the month, the poem I had been planning to finish the event with is not the one I’m publishing tonight. Again, an article I read about 100 year old New York serviceman who died due to complications with COVID19. This led to me playing with voice & POV & trying to put the scant biographical facts I had about him into a poetic first person monologue. Which lead me to research more about him. Thankfully the first article I read was the least evocative & I found some beautiful stories/snippets in other obituaries. 

As much as I liked the other idea, it seems right & fitting to end with this moving personal story that spans the centuries.

*****

Philip Kahn: a semi-imagined poetic obituary

everyone should understand by now history always
replays versions of itself for its own amusement.

he was born at the end of the war to end all wars
— then fought in the next one that came along.

on the ground, at Iwo Jima, survived snipers — & a booby
trap which blew him 15 feet from where he stood.

from the air, over Japan, flew B29s & dropped
bombs — then carried their weight the rest of his life.

he helped the Twin Towers go up
— then like everyone else, watched them come down.

married in 46 & remained happily wed
— until Rose’s death last summer. 

yet always — he carried a void with him.
i was that void. Samuel. twin. died 1919.

taken by two pandemics — a century apart.
a life lived — & one that only watched.

the irony of our deaths — is my brother
& i are bookends on a shelf that never ends.

Day 29 — the end of my GloWriMoPo 2-part poem experiment

29 Emergency.jpg

While I don’t think this poem works as well as I hoped it might, I was keen to complete because I thought it an interesting idea & I wanted to try & show in semi-poetic sense how acts of non-isolation impact others. Given a chance I’d restructure the first part giving me more flexibility in part 2. And once this month’s all over, & I’ve recovered, I might just do that.

Here’s the link to the first part if you want a refresher.

*****

Quarantine: part 2

what Donnie did this week

1. the days in bed didn’t help
he ended up being rushed to hospital
where he’s spent the last week
on a ventilator …

a selection of consequences of the things Donnie did instead of staying home

1. Plane
several people at Donnie’s church feel unwell.
including the pastor who has performed three funerals in the past 48 hours.
the lady that prepares the community meals hasn’t come in for days
one of the cabin crew felt feverish in Perth a couple of days later
  but had to work a flight back to her home Brisbane
  before she could self isolate.
her housemates have been looking after her.  

2. Shops
1st time. the check out girl who served him caught what Donnie has
 — but as she’s a casual with no sick leave
   she’s been at work every day since.
2nd time. the woman who used his trolley after him has a cough.
3rd time. when he coughed without covering his mouth
   the butcher couldn’t avoid breathing some in.

3. Grandmother
his grandmother died
   (though she has lots of loo paper in reserve).

4. Beach
thankfully Donnie encountered no one at the beach.

5. Haircut
his barber has come down sick.
his barber’s young son too.
  & the mum of the kid next door who looks after him after kindy.
his barber’s son’s kindy teacher is sick, but has recovered.
  her mother has not.
his barber’s parents are also feeling ill.

6. Bus
three passengers that Donnie coughed near are sick,
   including one who has CF: she has been hospitalised
   & is in a critical condition
one of the nurses at the hospital is so overwhelmed
   he’s contemplating suicide.
the single mother he sat next to is having trouble breathing.
   she doesn’t know who’s going to look after her young son.
two high school students had the virus without even really knowing.
their English teacher was not so lucky.
the driver has died.

7. Mates
Gary felt crook but kept going to work.
Gary’s boss has a fever.
Greg too felt a bit funny, but stayed home in bed.
Greg’s wife is now in bed too (& not in the fun way).
Greg’s wife’s mum dropped off some soup for them.
   and did a bit of tidying up.
   now she’s having trouble breathing.
Bill is fine.

today
… sadly Donnie
has recovered.

Day 28 – a few things you may not know about the 1918 pandemic 

Spanish-Flu-2-885x620.jpg

I swear I’m going to have twenty incomplete/half-edited poems because after working for several hours on a poem about new research suggests COVID-19 seems to be affecting more than just lungs, including attacking the heart; I suddenly started spewing forth ideas from a couple of articles I’d read about the flu pandemic of 1918-19 (often erroneously or unfairly called Spanish flu). It’s almost like I’ve got to write for a while on one topic before I can let the right one out.

Anyway, he’s a wee trip back in time that might shed some light on both the present & the future …

*****

H1N1

humanity has been learning
to live with a new disease — new to us
which in itself is nothing new

the one everyone keeps
harping on about is the H1N1
influenza outbreak of 1918–19

three waves washed round
the world infecting 500 million
then killing between a tenth & a fifth

the end arrived only when immunity
was conferred — transforming
H1N1 from pandemic to endemic

then it hung round for 40 —
— more — years — as a seasonal virus
though at much less severe levels

despite all our efforts
it didn’t disappear till 1957
when a new pandemic H2N2

eradicated almost the entire
H1N1 — one flu virus strain
somehow supplanting another

& the scariest part?
— scientists  don’t  really
know  how  it  did  it

Day 27 – amusing reflections on our education conundrum 

social-distancing-kids-.png

Not the poem I was working on initially, but given my facebook feed was full of posts on this topic, it sorta spewed out. Maybe the COVIDSafe app poem will get aired tomorrow. Or maybe like around a dozen others, it won’t, cos I’m running out of time.

*****

funny haha

isn’t it funny
how council playgrounds
are off limits with signs up
saying CLOSED FOR COVID
but playgrounds in primary schools
all over the country
are somehow virus-safe spaces

isn’t it funny
how kids aren’t allowed
to visit their grandparents
but teachers of the same age
are supposed to go to work
to teach classrooms full
of similarly aged tykes

isn’t it funny
how the prime minister
closed parliament till august
so 76 senators & 151 house of reppers
don’t have to associate together
whereas schools with a 1000 kids
& 100s of staff are meant to function
as if everything’s normal

actually, i guess
it’s not that funny
after all

like a lot of what’s going on
right now

Day 26 – festive-themed silly Sunday

26 12 days.png

Okay, this is one I’ve been saving. I’ve tried to get it as close to the original as I can (phonetically & rhythmically, but I’ll concede there are holes) — while referencing contemporary things, which definitely made it more challenging. But it’s okay for a bit of fun. I’m just gonna hit you with the last verse not the 11 incrementally longer versions. But you’re smart, you can figure out what’s going on.

*****

12 days of Coronamas

12th day
On the 12th day of Coronamas my true love sent to me
Twelve doctors doct’ring
Eleven nurses nursing
Ten landlords a-weeping
Nine checkouts chicking
Eight Brady’s zooming
Seven stylists a-trimming
Six priests a-praying
Five toilet rolls
Four brawling kids
Three Bench Clenz
Two surgical gloves, and
A smart new facemask just for me

Day 25 — big dates raise big issues

25 Rosemary.jpg

As always, Anzac Day is highly conflicted for me. I had two grandfathers who served in WW2 in North Africa, the Middle East & Papua New Guinea & who thankfully both came home. I had a great grandfather & a great great uncle who fought in the trenches of France & one came home & one did not. I had another great grandfather who served with the Light Horse in Egypt & Palestine. He also came home. So the Anzac mythos is strong on both sides of my family. It is personal. However, at the same time, I find much of Anzac Day tokenistic* & backward-looking.  See below for my reasoning.

*Though there is something very communal & positive about the #AnzacAtHome & #DrivewayAtDawn movement as a result of COVID-19 which I like immensely. Perhaps this could be one of the ways forward, followed by street parties all over the country.

*****

the Anzac spirit

beware: today’s the day you’re most
likely to catch Anzacspiritus flu
an insidious disease that claims men
fighting on Gallipoli beaches
& trenches of the Western front
somehow forged our young nation’s
nature with five distinctive qualities:
mateship, humour, courage,
ingenuity, & endurance.

my perennial question —
how 256,000 men who rarely
spoke of their experiences
influenced the entirity of Australian
society’s then five millions
                          remains unanswered.

that said, i don’t begrudge a nation
built on these tenets
they’re a reasonable list — though
you wonder if they’re not in fact
lacking somewhat. maybe: compassion,
cooperation, freedom, security & equity
                                    could be added.

but instead of simply praising them
this one day of the year
let’s actually live by them.

there wasn’t much mateship going round
when toilet paper was being hoarded
& supermarket shelves stripped;
nor courage when it came to attacking
fellow citizens simply because they look
like where our current virus is from.
thankfully though our GSOH
has been highly evident through countless
memes, TP workout routines, etc.

my request is — if any politician
from the Prime Minister down
to your local council member
wants to cash in on the gungho glory
of Anzac then they need to spread
those five+ tenets to every decision
they make throughout the year.

let’s start using our brave, heroic,
foolish, flawed Diggers never ending
sacrifices to heal, to look forward,
                            instead of always behind …

Day 24 — doing one’s bit in trying times #notallheroes

winner TRIM.jpg

A smaller more personal poem today, after the excesses of yesterday.

*****

peak pandemic

how perfectly pleasant
to sit inside  rug on lap
book in hand  tea by side
warm as butter  slowly
melting into  hot crumpets
dog  snoring nearby

while outside  trees writhe
in the window-rattling
thunder-spreading wind
the sky grey  in all ways
& the rain hits the roof
like  a million microscopic
viruses trying to breach
my home’s   defences 

all while knowing 

i’m
helping
save
the
world

life has reached peak

.

.

Note: I’m borderline embarrassed to admit (but not quite really) that I almost spent more time looking at images of cups of tea next to books by rainy windows than I did writing the poem. OMG I’ve discovered a new way (as if one was needed) to waste valuable interwebs time.