For the Good of Everyone

My poetry collaborator dreams up the next line.

The grumbling is getting louder. The anxiety is rising. People are starting to toss the words “rights” and “freedom” around. People are afraid that this is all power-plays by the leadership to cow us, subject us, hold us in our places. And why shouldn’t they be afraid? When have we ever known the (mostly) rich (mostly) white (mostly) male ruling class to work on behalf of the people, to remember their sweetly quaint little title of “public servant”? Who should we trust?

The doctors. And scientists. We can, hopefully, trust the scientists and the physicians. And the story. Trust the story. Watch how it has played out across the globe. Remember Italy. Remember China.

It’s very likely that some of the governors are working out of self-interest and electability, that some are too cautious and timid, that others are hungrily consolidating power in a time when people are vulnerable. So I will trust the leaders who seem to be trusting the doctors and the scientists and the story. It hasn’t been difficult to find an example of a leaders who isn’t trusting the science, who is inexorably manipulating the narrative to feed his own ego and his own power. And if you want to start talking about freedom and rights, let’s begin with the ways in which he has been harming the freedom and the rights of the common people since the day he took office. I’m going to cast my lot in with the governors on this one.

This doesn’t have to be an American frontier epic contest between your fear and your freedom. That’s an old and worn-out trope, and it’s a false dichotomy, a fairy tale told to us by end-stage capitalism. The governors are not Big Bart riding into town with all guns blazing, ordering the women and children to cower in their homes. In this story, we make the choice to stay home, to wait, to isolate, in order to protect the vulnerable ones among us, in order to protect our health care workers.

As far as I know, my parents and my immuno-compromised beloveds are all safe. But if we resume business as usual too soon, they may all be in danger, and those you love, too. It’s not about whether or not you or I personally fear death. It’s about whether we have the deep communal compassion to do something that protects the most vulnerable among us. Remember, this is the Exile for the Good of the Realm.

Gratitude List:
1. The Iron Lady Trail. My Project Manager says I shouldn’t call it that, that it’s still unnamed, but he initially called it the Iron Lady, and so I’m calling it that for now. Josiah is marking and clearing a series of deer trails in the woods above the pond. He calls himself the Project Manager, and her has enlisted his progenitors to assist with the cutting of poison ivy and brambles. Yesterday after our schoolwork, we cleared a side trail that links the Iron Lady (I mean Unnamed) Trail to a second entrance to the fields. This one emerges from the woods beneath a curving limb of a cherry tree. For too long, the poison ivy has kept us out of the woods. We are going to try to keep the trails maintained so we can have some passages through the woods.
2. The passion with which my kids follow their interests. It can be tiring to listen to hours of discourse on the minute differences between the Tesla models, or how to build a very detailed something-or-other in Minecraft, or the many reasons why a particularly obscure piece of technology is either illegal or shady or brilliant. Still, I love that they can be passionate about things that have near-zero interest for me.
3. Homemade oatmeal protein bars. I don’t know why I got away from making them. And of course, I have no recipe, so I have to go back and recreate it. The ones I made last night are too crumbly. But they taste good!
4. The veils of green appearing through the woods.
5. I am loving the poetry-writing process right now. It’s very much like the energy of April 2012 (I think that was the year), when I felt something click and sizzle. This is perhaps less giddy, more grounded, but it tingles. I’m especially grateful for my poet-community right now.

Take care of each other. Walk in Beauty!

The Soul, it sees by synesthesia
Tasting light caressed by song
A touch is like a descant fire
resonant and strong.
—Craig Sottolano

“I’m not as cooperative as you might want a woman to be.” —Carrie Fisher

“The unconscious wants truth. It ceases to speak to those who want something else more than truth.” —Adrienne Rich

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.
-—Raymond Carver’s Late Fragment, inscribed on his tombstone

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation.

The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last.

All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.
—David Whyte

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
―Mother Teresa

“Walking. I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.”
―Linda Hogan

“This will be our reply to violence:
to make music more intensely,
more beautifully,
more devotedly than ever before.”
―Leonard Bernstein

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