Tuesday, March 31, 2020


No one can remain breathless forever.

The shock and gloom and fear and frazzled shows on the persona of the national newscasters. Capped teeth and perfect smiles wear thin fast. The tits and teeth don't inject needed oxygen.

There is sickness, there is death, the economy is tanking, but the news stays pretty much the same ... gloom, and ... repeat as necessary.

Like others, I am in a lockdown that is more or less self-imposed. Future death rates in the U.S. are put at a potential 200,000, a number that seems enormous at the moment.

The fear is fed by the fear is fed by the fear.....

My sister Revan sent along this New Yorker cover in honor of my birthday a while back.
The news programming is so keyed by Donald Trump's herding and insults that they are lost in minutiae that are understandable and bite-sized. Trump himself has been relegated to back-burner status. He simply is not credible or useful. The TV listens to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The TV listens to Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York. These are credible men, or at any rate more credible than Donald Trump.

Everywhere, workaday hospitals are cropping up. Everywhere there are shortages of equipment and personnel. Everywhere, death tolls mount. Italy is in lockdown. Everywhere, the silence reigns serene as a plump cat. Everywhere people wonder if there is an actual "when" in "when I wake up."

The election for president is scheduled in November. The election ballyhoo that presaged this moment is left hanging forlorn on some distant branch. Bernie Sanders, whose 'socialism' once guided the wind, is ...well, I have no idea where he is.

Yesterday, I told my younger son to be aware of where his pistol might be. People who confiscate weapons have a way of aiming those weapons at the people who surrendered them.

Today I sent a note to my daughter saying it might be a good time to learn another language -- Spanish, possibly, at the easy end; Chinese at the other end of the easy spectrum. One word per day.

PS: Civil liberties.

Friday, March 27, 2020

the epidemic

Washing hotel patrons' loose change
The first ticklings of the current Coronavirus-19 epidemic that has frightened and paralyzed much of the world, was first noticed, as I get it, in late December of 2019 in Wuhan, China. It has since spread to ... well, to damn near everywhere. The spread of the disease halted much of whatever giggling was going on in the beamer and baubles crowd and anyone else who might have taken notice.

Somewhat to my surprise, the end-of-the-world, God'll-get-you-for-that constituency has remained relatively silent. In fact, although there may be prayers galore from those inclined to pray, it seems not to have affected or afflicted the mainstream ... yet. Maybe these people are saving up their toldjaso's for another time.

Donald Trump, the liar in chief of the most powerful nation on earth, must be miffed as a wet cat that he can't buy his way out of this one. As president, he is tits on a bull as the election rush of 2020 segues into background noise. He is not a leader and is not a consequential informer. Mostly, if I get it right, he is ignored in favor of scientists who seem to know which way is "up." People are frightened ... no proximity with those whose proximity is longed for; not enough equipment for those who desperately need equipment; patients clogging hospital hallways; deaths mounting among those -- especially the elderly -- with underlying heart and lung conditions.

During WWI, I believe I read, more American soldiers crammed into troop ships and bound for Europe were killed by the "Spanish flu" than died on any subsequent battlefield and the leaders of the U.S. knew it was happening. Proximity then like proximity now ... oy vey.

My younger son returned from his job as a hospital security guard last night to announce he had come into contact with someone who was infected. I am not worried. When you think of the number of transmitters available (think money, for example), is there really an opposite to "proximate?"

Were the upscale hotels prescient or priggish when they washed patrons' loose change?

PS. it's March 27, 2020. Green is beginning to warm the trees on this spring-like day. There has been exactly one snow storm of any consequence this year.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

northampton photo

Northampton where I live is a town (technically a city) full of jim-crack stores selling 'hand-crafted' bric-a-brac and things like "artisan bread." It is the home of Smith College and enough lawyers and shrinks to choke a horse. It is, or at least once was, considered a place friendly towards homosexual women.

Photo taken today at about 3 p.m. outside a once-movie-theater-converted-to-concert-venue:

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

uppity twerp

Do not stand idly in the wood.
Walk freely into the clearing and stretch out long.
Greet the sky as the sky greets you
And admire the certainty of your shadow.

Shadows are uppity as a teen.
So assured yet blind to the light
That makes the long, long lines
Of light-time dance and stretch.

Stretch out long and greet.
Soon enough the shadows reach
And stretch and cuddle in the light.
Uppity and assured,
Shake your booty
And laugh a little
Like the light.

Soon enough, the gloaming reaches
Out to touch and meld and weld and ...
And the and's are and-erful.
Uppity in the woods
Uppity in the clearing.

Shake the shadows from your fur
And greet until, perhaps, some
Future shadow makes its rounds.

Uppity twerp!

Monday, March 23, 2020

the Dhammapada

Strange how "The Dhammapada" rings true so many years later:
It is not what others do or do not do that is my concern.
It is what I do and do not do -- that is my concern.
I guess it is easy to be smart and open when everything feels so enclosed and stupid.

Just now, my wife returned (9 a.m.) from work feeling poorly (headache, shits...) -- a strange admission from a hard-working lady. Strange how those on the fringes of sickness may be repulsed by the medical arena near which they find themselves. Hard work and absolution have nothing to do with anything

The epidemic continues apace if the TV is to be believed. Corona virus-19 is here and now. Shortages of front-line medical equipment (masks, ventilators, gowns, hospital beds, etc.) are a constant plaint from states across the country. U.S. President Donald Trump retreats, slump-shouldered from a podium on which he seems to understand in part that his leadership is second-rate at best.

It is as if there were a sign over Trump's head: "No blowhards need apply." Lies and misstatements simply can no longer be tolerated. A frightened public awaits the scientists. Guys like Trump are out of order and, with luck, out of gas.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

I wonder if your grandma might opine...

"S/he's so stupid s/he thinks "more" is "better."

As the quarantine takes its bite from state to state -- stay inside, avoid close contacts, cough or sneeze into your elbow, wash your hands, never mind going to work -- the juxtapositions of life rise up. Actions don't ameliorate; inaction doesn't absolve. The ads for cars and jewelry haunt the TV airwaves. Newscasters look increasingly desperate for something to say. What if...what if...what if we were all just well and truly fucked?

The president of the United States slumps as he steps away from a podium he had peopled just moments before. He knows his bloviations just don't cut it. People are afraid, and he is a part of a fearful problem ... and he knows it as listeners heed the scientists on the dais at his side and ignore his half-assed meanderings and makes promises he can not and will not fulfill. China, where the outbreak of coronavirus 19 was initially addressed a couple of weeks ago, seems to be on the mend to some extent, but Italy is locked down and other Europeans look to follow suit.

Schools, churches, businesses, Democrats, Republicans, children, adults ... it is a fearsome thing when everyone agrees on everything.

Across the street here, my neighbor Mike enters his house toting a large, plastic-wrapped package of toilet paper. Twenty-four rolls, perhaps. Whole lot of shit coming down, literally and metaphorically. Cafes are empty. The neon lights invite as once before, but there is no one in the streets to heed.

Just look at this ring ... an opal or diamond or sapphire and it's oh-so-carefully crafted; and how about
this vitamin that improves memory or breathing... a luxury car for your delectation. The TV ads cast a preposterous glow.

I woke "this morning" with some pep in a half-light outdoors. But, wouldn't you know it, the half-light was the half-light of sundown, not sun up. But it was too late by the time I understood. By then I had washed some dishes, made a cup of coffee and wondered why the hell I was the only one up and about. It's a good thing I turned 80 and feel somewhat 'excused' from being sane or well-rounded or full of understanding. Not being an asshole is an old reality, a shadow of a shadow.

Friday, March 20, 2020

pandemic .... again ... and.... again

In the darkness of early morning, a few lights adorn the lowest level of the mostly two-storey houses on my street. No one likes being shut in and, around the world, "shut-in" is an operative term as the "pandemic" that is COVID-19 flows here and there.

In Florida, colleges students on what might have been "spring break" frolic on the shores of a placidly-lapping gulf. It's older people most in danger, the news feeds insist. Pre-existing heart and lung problems ... well, Nellie bar the door! Many have died. Many have survived.

In Europe, Parisians and others tied to their domiciles, open the windows and sing their thanks to the "first-responders" ... garbage, ambulance, cops, and even some military. Someone's got to put their ass on the line and there are people willing to do so ... thank you very much.

Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York (state), has become a touchstone for those of us exhausted by the non-news news channels. Why he rings true, I'm not sure, but I know I was captivated as I listened to him ... and pissed as a red ant when NBC superimposed some 20-something reporter explaining Cuomo's encouragements. Cuomo and Trump ... what a pair ... Trump receding like a fart in a windstorm... well, never mind ... he did what the Republicans wanted him to do -- get 'em another tax break.

The garbage man came yesterday, a day or two out of synch. No one is shooting yet. Wall Street and its money launderings ... ah well .....

My wife goes to work, doing hospital intake on elderly exercises.
My younger son goes to work at a hospital 20 miles to the north. As a security guard waiting for an appointment to a police academy that can punch his working ticket.

I stay inside.
I am 80.
But not dead yet.

Shut down New York. Shut down California.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

more ,'n', more

The tale of a coronavirus pandemic is so rife that my older son told me he had sworn off social media a couple of times. Not a conversation or bit of information seems to arise without some reference to a disease that has swept the globe. There is no where to turn, no where to run. The I'm-never-going-to-die presumption of the young and healthy and millennial has run smack into the potential for infection, which is said to be disproportionately dangerous for the very young and those elderly people disposed to pre-existing conditions.

On the highway, when my wife and I went for a drive this morning around nine, there were few cars, though it's a Christian rest day. Hunkered and bunkered and the TV is full of one bit of frazzled news or another. Schools are closed, large gatherings like sporting events have been blockaded, Italy is on lockdown, and kids who may get their one good meal per day in school are under threat. People are advised to wash and rewash their hands and yet ... imagine it ... money is touched by a thousand thousand hands....

Donald Trump is lost in the muddle. His braggadocio looks weak. His lack of willingness or capacity to lead are shown up in the shadows of scientific facts. His willingness to find someone else to blame falls flat. Crowds are frowned on and yet everywhere there are crowds -- at airports and other venues. Proximity is contraindicated and yet huddling together is the longing.

It reminds me of a time in the army when the one thing that really scared me was a gas attack -- when the very air was rife with threat. News outlets are filled with a whole lot of nothing to say. News casters strain mightily, but ... it just doesn't work. No one knows. There's no buying our way out of sickness and death.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

backing up the next man

There were three of us crammed into an single cubicle. Everyone was white. I was in my first paying job since leaving the army -- a job at a book publishing house in New York. The three of us were all trainees. The two other guys were ragging me on the sly. The Vietnam police action was almost over. The tide had shifted. Getting out of Vietnam was in the wind.

"If I were in the army, in combat" one said, "I know just what I'd do. I'd run away."

And that simple line was as much as I was prepared to swallow. "If you ran away," I said to all and sundry, "I would be happy to shoot you in the back."

I don't know if that were true or not, but I did know that in dire circumstances each man had to rely on the next -- I on you, you on me -- and running away was not an option. Color, sex, belief system ... none of it mattered: What mattered was that each backed up the next.

My words brought a silence to our cubicle.

I did not apologize.

And still don't.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

shake, rattle and roll ...pandemic

A hundred years ago, in 1918, it was being withheld from the U.S. electorate that the "Spanish Flu" killed more American soldiers enroute to World War I than the war itself claimed. I read that somewhere and, given the crowded conditions of the troop ships, it seems credible. "Spainsh flu," like the current flu "pandemic," claimed a lot of lives, including that of my mother's mother when she, my mother, was 2. My mother spent her life yearning.                                                                                

But now there is the internet and the dizzying tsunami of facts and figures spills out of the TV screen. Perhaps a month ago, an outbreak of coronavirus was reported in China. Today, Italy is locked down, schools are closed, the stock market has taken a 2,000+ pasting and those who rely on schools to feed their kids are in limbo.

Donald Trump, the impeached president of the United States, is preparing to run against either Bernie Sanders -- a "socialist" Democrat on the cutting edge of global warming, health-care for all, infrastructure repair, free secondary education and a host of other issues about which the college educated cannot be bothered to look up the word "socialist"-- and Joe Biden, former vice president to Barack Obama ... a warming septuagenarian whose challenges are less challenging.

The times have been rife with political chaff. Once, Elizabeth Warren was a female candidate and Senator from Massachusetts who was squoze out, as were Amy Klobachar and Pete Bouttgieg, the latter of whom I favored (gay marriage in an age when having outsider credentials counts.) I liked Elizabeth Warren but a niggling voice in my mind said, "She's too smart." The next president is going to spend at least a year undoing the  Washington Post estimated 16,200+ lies and misstatements Trump has perpetrated since he assumed the presidency with his promise to "drain the swamp." Behind the scenes Trump is setting the stage so that he might say, "I told you I'd end the war in Afghanistan ... and I did. Only of course, he didn't.

A "pandemic." People are getting hurt ... can't go to work ... basketball playoffs on track... but no crowds... streets empty .... and where is Monty Python now that we really need him: "Bring out your dead!"

The other end of the telescope. No touching. Wash your hands. Wash 'em again.

"Pandemic" -- and here we are in the 14th or whatever century.


Wednesday, March 11, 2020

melting the heart

How easy it is to melt this heart and yet strange how much of this life is spent hardening it.

For my birthday, like a single snooker ball rolling over smooth. green baize...

A bunch of white and purple flowers ... the one mixed amid the other. Delicate. Delicious.

One card that "remembers you when you were 5."

And another anonymous card, ever so neatly lettered  asking if I remember blackboards.

I wish I knew the sender's identity. The picture melts my heart. How? I suppose it just wants to be melted.

Monday, March 9, 2020


Happy eightieth birthday.

I want, therefore I am

A room of soft whips, perhaps.

There are lashes and gashes from time to time, of course, but generally, soft whips of wanting.

I want (not "I think"), therefore I am.

Thursday, March 5, 2020


Fluttering, flittering....

My local newspaper, the Daily Hampshire Gazette, hardly contains news. What it contains is rafts of solutions (lawyers, shrinks and other feel-gooders) in search of a problem. Press releases abound.

News, I have decided to decide, is shot. The media have bowed to the format of talk-talk-talking ... about a future they cannot predict. Everyone needs to put spaghetti on the table, but these guys and gals are really idiotic.

The best I can figure is abject surrender. I give up.

Get rid of the talking heads.