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Posts Tagged ‘COVID’

The Key

It is not a needle.
It is not a syringe
It is a key
that fits my front door
but now that I have it
will I use it?
Am I ready
to leave my distanced redoubt?
Is my unmasked heart prepared
to trust those I meet?
I cannot say
but the key turns
the dust-dry tumblers
the bolt withdraws
the door creaks open
I squint at the sun
of a different year
smell the aromas
of an unmapped summer
hear the surf noise
of my lifeblood’s anticipation
and I step outside

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I’ve studied tears this twelvemonth past.
Presented with such concentrated array,
comparison is a natural response.

Grief, I found, comes on in briny waves, salting recent wounds,
while tragedy burns with toxic bile.
Isolation, wrapped in bitter, aching skin,
tastes bitter, foul, and acrid on the tongue,
while pain, all physical yet all intangible,
hones its razor’s edge, making torment manifold.
But by none of this was I surprised.

Until
one day, not too long past,
when life’s encroaching blackness
pressed me to my osseous redoubt.
Seeking solace, I there discovered
a sound imbued of perfect beauty
and I was lifted, lightened,
transported beyond the encampment of my misery
to a place I’d left too long unvisited.

And in that place I learned
the tears of joy do not sting.

k

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Ages ago, I had a golden ticket.

It opened gates that were closed, gave access to forbidden lands.

My trusty US Passport, respected throughout the world, allowed me to depart the country of my birth whenever I chose, but could not guarantee entry to all nations beyond our borders. It was, simply put, insufficient to get me into the places I wanted to go.

I needed a golden ticket.

I needed my vaccine passport.

Should I have balked at the requirement? Should I have, with hackles raised in righteous indignation, told these other, these lesser, these pipsqueak nations to go straight to hell because by god, I was an American, and no one was going to put restrictions on my absolute sovereignty? Is that what I should have done?

Was I weak? Was it a sign of a lax morality, a milquetoast nature, or a spineless lack of patriotism when I subjected myself to these jabs? Was I exposing my cowardice when I exposed my arm to these vaccines? Was the mild ache in my shoulder from the smallpox, yellow fever, diphtheria, and tetanus jabs some sort of reaction to this un-American act? Were the symptoms of cholera and typhus I experienced (due to the live vaccines administered), were they merely a sign of my own turpitude?

No. Such sentiments would have been as ludicrous back then as they are today.

And yet, here we are, arguing about this exact thing.

Public health and safety are the primary purposes of government. A pandemic, such as the one we experience today, is a threat to public health. Our best tool against it is an effective vaccine, distributed as widely as possible so that, as a nation, we can grab the brass ring of herd immunity.

But not everyone admits this reality. For some of our nation’s people—certain demographic groups, political parties, and even entire states—public health and safety are set aside while, with a misguided sense of outrage, these folks stand up and shout to the rafters their creed of individual freedom. These sections of our society feel that their personal privilege trumps any greater concern, for others, for neighbors, even for loved ones.

And so, we are stuck on this carousel, spinning ’round and ’round, suffering wave after wave of resurgent infection and death, and the brass ring remains tantalizingly out of reach.

Vaccine passports are going to be a reality. Just as when I was young, fresh-faced and dewy-eyed, wanting to visit lands unknown and experience cultures as alien to me then as the beliefs of these deniers are to me now, nations are going to require proof of vaccination before entry is permitted. You can rail and shout your fleck-spittle manifesto of faux patriotism and American exceptionalism all you want; without proof, you shall not pass.

More to the point, due solely to the calcified stupidity of this sizable proportion of our society, we cannot even trust one another and this vaccine passport may be required domestically as well. Want to see your home team compete against the visitors? Show you’ve been vaccinated. Want to experience that arena concert? Prove you’ve had the jab. Proof, or go home.

This is the future, and ironically, it is a future that these deniers are making manifest by their very actions. They are causing this reaction, just as that typhus vaccine caused my body to react with fever, chills, and sweats. The body politic is fighting off the viral infection these deniers represent.

Don’t want the jab? Fine. Don’t get it. It’s your choice. You have that freedom in this country. But Americans are not demigods walking amongst mere mortals, and actions have consequences.

So don’t act surprised when you get turned away from a nation, an airport, a venue, a concert, a restaurant because you chose to value your privilege above the health of others.

Get your jab.

Get your golden ticket.

k

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You are tired 

Your heart 
wrung out 
lies limp 
spent 
exhausted 

Your mind 
fuzzed by events 
shackled by twin weights 
   of isolation 
   of jailed desires 
is rendered senseless 
numb

The parade of days 
a monotony 
   of toil 
   of grief 
   of sameness 

The calendar 
arbitrary divisor of time 
paints illusions 
   of separation 
   of change 
where none truly exist 

New year! 
Flip the page! 
It’s supposed to be different! 

Yet, it isn’t 

It’s the same 

But step back 

Look beyond 
   your home 
   your street 
   your life 

The world spins quickly 
and is slow to move 
but like a tide in flood 
   inexorable 
   imperceptible 
it does change 

Is changing

And soon 
like cicadas 
after years-long entombment 
we will emerge 
to breathe the windborne breeze 
to see the rising sun 
to sing in our multitudes 
   of love 
   of life 
   of our many futures 

Our hearts will be renewed 
our minds refreshed 
our lives rejoined 

Be patient 
Be calm 
Be hopeful 

Practice your song

k

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Ordinarily, I try to avoid confrontation. Last week’s post, therefore, was out of the ordinary, and indeed, it did give rise to a few confrontations. Most were from expected quarters, but there were a few surprises. The conversations it engendered, though generally civil, were at times tense, and they definitely raised my anxiety level to DEFCON 3.

That, however, wasn’t what upset me the most. No, what had me flirting with DEFCON 2 was something entirely unexpected.

We were invited to a barbecue.

(more…)

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