Poetry in the Time of COVID19

Feeding the Chooks

Schadenfreude

For decades they sneered
at us backward banana benders,
behind by 50 years they reckon,
we endured Bjelke’s curses of faded kitchen curtains,
daylight farm slaving and cow’s milk curdling,
fly with the crows, you get shot with the crows
as he fed the chooks, gloating.
Well, birds fly south for the summer,
and not this time, we’re roosting up north,
safe on our parochial perches.
Who’s laughing now? eh eh eh?
We already have your footballers
locked in our hubs –
yet laugh too soon, maties, and the boot
can be on the other foot in a few days …
Pride is the deadliest, most subtle sin.
Plagues follow science, not rhetoric in tabloid beatups,
thrive on denial, superstition, conspiracist ignorance.
Fertilised by desperation, selfishness and carelessness,
the toll is belling for us all.

Jinjirrie, August 2020

The Way We Were – Grief and COVID19

King of the Mountain Festival, Pomona

The stages of grief are relevant as the world mourns for lost freedoms and health, under a shared threat. People cope in different ways, moving from one stage to another, or becoming stuck in one phase.

(1) Denial – rampant conspiracism: “the virus is a hoax”, irrationally looking for someone or something to blame, grasping at straws, or “it can’t happen to me, I’m young and/or really healthy”.

(2) Anger – focused conspiracism: “it’s the NWO, illuminati, lizard people, 5G, China, Bill Gates” irrationally targeting someone or something with blame – often we can recognise here pre-existing white supremacism and ultra-nationalism . Other expressions of anger include self-harm, destructive displacement behaviours, domestic violence, feeling out of control – “how dare they take away my right to party”.

(3) Bargaining – if I do everything I’m told, I’ll be OK, compulsive hand-washing, obsessive germophobic behaviour – not a bad space in terms of reducing infection rates overall. Can also manifest as engagement in irrational behaviours, “if I act like everything’s normal, I’ll be OK”, or “if I placate gods/goddesses/idols/the ruling class, I’ll be OK”.

(4) Depression – feelings of powerlessness, helplessness, anxiety, hopelessness, lack of focus and concentration, dithering, finding the structuring one’s activities oneself is daunting, lack of social contact producing sadness.

(5) Acceptance – adapting to the new stressor with constructive behaviours, permitting oneself to grieve, treating self and others with kindness and understanding, also accepting that one can slip back into the other stages, not trying to force the grieving process.

Major life changes take three years or so to process. The impact of the COVID19 virus can multiply life changes into a huge multi-pronged stressor – losing one’s friends and family, job, schools and social contact with friends all rolled into one. Perhaps if we are more aware of ourselves and others and understand our reactions are part of being human, we can make the way easier for them and ourselves too.

Voting Under the Virus

The VillageI leave home, a significant event these days, to vote in the Council elections at the local village hall. The road to the village is very quiet for a Saturday. No problem gaining a park right outside. There’s no usual cheery how to vote card hustlers, just signage and pamphlets to pick up if one hasn’t bothered to ascertain already who are the candidates who will keep our shire maintaining its world class sustainable biosphere status and stop any greedy neolib ‘development’ – I have, of course.

Clutching my own pen, I stride inside the ancient weatherboard dance hall. I’m the only voter inside – there’s four workers at desks to tick one off the electoral roll or scan the posted card, then to hand out the voting sheets, one for the mayoral candidate and the other for councillors. The ceiling fans are going full bore.

In the recyclable cardboard voting cubicle, I make my marks, then glance onto the white backing sheet, where someone has neatly written “Stay Home But Vote?”

Chuckling, I delicately insert my slips into the relevant boxes and march out, straight home to the hand cleanser and accompanying double chorus of “There’s No Toilet Paper Today”, though the husband brought home a 6 pack from the big stupormarket in town this morning.

I wonder how many infections occur pursuant to the exercise of our ‘democratic duty’ today, especially considering the now several contamination events down the coast in our shire around the Ides of March. Et tu, Anna P?

With any luck, our new Council will go easy on ratepayers until the plague has past, when we’ll be safe on the beaches again, visiting our friends and, sob, playing table tennis as usual in the local school hall.