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Commemorating Each New Disaster: Two Poems of 2020

The following poems address the failure of the current US administration to respond to the pandemic, as well as its systematic denial of science and sidestepping of the Constitution and Rule of Law. The lies, abandonment of responsibility, and stoking of divisiveness have caused and continue to cause fear, chaos, hatred, violence, and death.

Retrodegradation

we were dreaming of sugarplums and other impossibles
when the wind picked up everything worth taking
and blew it all to hell and gone

left to weather without refreshment
the foundation’s varnish cracked
exposing rotted wood
martyrs
none of them carpenters
stepped forward to repair it

accompanied by the bloodless analysis
of parrots regurgitating acceptable shibboleths
they were cut down in the streets

in the dust of devastation our eyes splintered
unable to focus we feel our way through lawn and marble
wailing and conjecture
propaganda and piles of devalued coinage

greasing our souls with hope
we sing the old songs on the way
to wherever it is we’re going
sure of nothing but that we breathe

“Shore of Tago Bay, Ejiri at Tokaido,” by Katsushika Hokusai

Onshore Wind

singing in the key of blue minor
the wind carries the sorrow of the world
in a wordless universal tongue
wrapping me in a melody that
penetrates my chest with a sea of grief

midnight waves punctuated by cymbals
commemorating each new disaster
slosh against bone as the dead rise
to dance a mirthless jig
out of time but never out of mind

prophets say summer is the quietus
that will still this hellish song
but i am not deceived by this propaganda
and refusing this cup
weep useless tears as the sea level rises


RC deWinter’s poetry is widely anthologized, notably in New York City Haiku (New York Times, February 2017), Cowboys & Cocktails (Brick Street, April 2019), Nature In The Now (Tiny Seed Press, August 2019), Coffin Bell Two (March 2020), in print in 2River, Adelaide, Event, Genre Urban Arts, Gravitas, Kansas City Voices, Meat For Tea: The Valley Review, the minnesota review, Night Picnic Journal, Prairie Schooner, Southword, among others, and appears in numerous online literary journals.

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