Poetry

Before & After: Poems of Quarantine, COVID-19, & The Year We All Lost

How have the conditions of our daily lives changed over the last year? There’s no question quarantine, social isolation, a global pandemic, and political and social unrest significantly alter our daily routines — but these events and situations have highlighted our adaptability and fragility simultaneously. The realization that we control very little of our own lives has come to the forefront for most in the past year; in turn, this realization has spurred the need for action. How do we maintain a sense of control in the midst of overwhelming evidence that we are at the whims of greater forces?

Parabolic Hyperbole and other poems of the Human Condition

What makes us human? Is it our opposable thumbs, omnivorous diet, and ability to wield tools? Our individual and collective ideological belief systems and Earth-bound nature? What about our ability to empathize and (simultaneously) our inability to and the resulting creation of “us vs. them” group dynamics? Does our violence, domination over nature, technological innovations, and need for advancement make us human or will these traits one day lead to our demise? Are we more human today than we were at the advent of homo sapiens sapiens 125,000 years ago, or less?

Reverence For Relationships: Poems About The Self, The Community, & The Other

As humans, we are relational beings. Most obviously, we develop and rely on relationships with others (e.g., family, friends, or work associates), creating a sense of community. Less obvious are the relationships we create with ourselves, with activities we do that give us purpose, and with nature. The following poetry collection touches on a variety of impactful relationships between an individual and the self; parents, grandparents, and cherished things; community during a crisis; tribal/clan culture; and God and nature. Who are we if not a compilation of who and what we choose to surround ourselves with?

{Cats}

The experience of being alive is best understood through momentary snippets and unique, individual perspectives. We may not relate nor understand all others due to the limitations of our own perspective, but we all take part in this experience collectively. As Kurt Vonnegut once wrote, “A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.” The following poem, “{Cats}” reflects an experience of life, highlighting there is life that exists even in the ill-lit, smokey corners of a bar.

Death Danced With Me In Mexico

Dia de los Muertos blurs the boundaries between the realms of Life and Death. Altars bearing the photos of lost loved ones keep them close to the heart. Families picnic on the graves of ancestors, dressing as vibrant skeletons festooned with flowers. Death need be neither hated nor feared. Indeed, welcoming Death with joy banishes fear and heals grief.

The Water Crisis & Coronavirus: What Have We Learned?

How do governments, societal groups, and individuals respond to national and international crises? “And so I went to Peter’s well” is a polemic regarding the world water crisis, specifically the activities of the Nestlé Corporation and its continuous pillage. The title references an Austrian Folksong that reflects the late CEO’s name, and he quoted another folksong in a documentary which the poet quotes in the epigram. The words serve as a chorus. “Threnody” was written when 50,000 people had died from COVID-19, which was more than the population of the town the poet grew up in. Now, with over 1 million deaths from COVID-19 worldwide, it is important to take a step back and analyze national responses around the globe. Are some nations better prepared to deal with crises than others? What accounts for the differences and how can we improve national and international management to safeguard against inevitable tragedy?

“If I Die” & Other Poems About Legacy

The following poems reflect on the ideas of identity and legacy. Regardless of how humankind evolves, a seminal question remains: what have we left for the world after we’ve gone? Though many of us prefer to assume that we have a special assigned significance in this world, the truth is that none of us are inherently superior to another. As COVID-19 raises our fear of mortality, these poems remind us that the most invisible existence can leave something of value in its wake, but that we must pay attention in order to notice that legacy.

Relics of Last Week’s Civilization: Is the US Losing Its Way?

Human civilizations have evolved as humans have, culminating in advanced societies of social and cultural organization. Despite humanity’s success on a grand scale, do the current protests, threats to peace, and societal discontent foreshadow the demise of one of the world’s leading hegemonies? Is it human nature to incite violence and encourage chaos, destroying what we’d once created? How can we utilize the relics of last week’s civilization to rebuild?