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Michael Ansara

Pandemic Poem:  The First Months

This morning there was one

Particular, woodpecker,

The scarlet slash on his cap

A flash as his head beat impossible time

To the rhythm of this one day.

As time passed to a slowing,

I wanted the moment to last

Past news and noise,

Absorb the opening sky,

The bowing trees, the feel of you.




Today bulbs pushed up green shoots.

A defiant daffodil burst into yellows,

Reliable rite of early spring.

I crave their certainty.




100 million Americans washing hands

Singing happy birthday, twice.

A cough. A sneeze. A portent. Fear

Settles into the chest.

And yet,

In Majorca,

Police on their rounds

Stop to serenade the housebound.

In Italy,

Neighbors on balconies sing opera

Together, arias cascading

down empty streets

Like a spring river.



Contagion derivation:

Con: With, together & tangere: touch

Fact of the body.

To bring something within;

Moral corruption,

Mortal corruption,

To spread to another the unclean

And unseen, a rumor,

A touching.

To be touched.




A very small percentage

Of a very large number


A stilled sax, silent

Piano, abandoned

Mop and pail, unused

Latex gloves and nursing clogs

Permanently parked truck, empty

Shift, unanswered phone.

Lonely stethoscope.

Long-Term Care Facilities become


The Great White Way

Dark and silent.




The doors are locked.

Fingers separated by hard glass.

The living cannot say goodbye.

A branch breaks.

A bird’s wing snaps

The dying cannot say goodbye.




In some altered states

Curbside pickup.

Brisk business.

Unseen enemy.

Cold, blued comfort.

Do not trust your neighbor,

Be prepared

To shoot

The stranger



I want to praise

Those who work,

Those who cloaked

In the bulky gowns

Of their fear, still rush in,

Tend the infected.

Those who, unrecognized,

So often black and brown,

Inadequately protected

Without all the gear,

Clean and scrub,

Stock and drive,

Those who deliver.

Those who have no choice.

Those who, unlike me, cannot sit

Idle within their grief and rage.





Our quicksilver deceit

Of separation is burned

Away. Illusion

That we exist bounded,

Unburdened, is scattered

Like the black murmuration

Of starlings startled

By the explosion

At sunset.




I want to go out of my mind

For an instant or two.

Leave my body at its most

Alive. Bury my grief within

You. Become ravenous.

Consume comfort and relief.




The weather warmed, springing

Riotous patches of new color

As if to show the earth

Does not care.


Then, shockingly, it snowed,

Fat, frozen flakes,

Falling like grief

Everywhere, muffled.




The spring sprung brook

Gurgled and burbled.

The lichen licked stone walls

Stood silent, steadfast.

The slender birches swayed,

Staying bent and bowed.

My two dogs released,

Ran and romped.

All as it always was.


All was as it always was.

Nothing was the same.

Jim Zola 675DC4F9-2C15-4B6C-B6DA-57E28D416349.jpeg
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