The Soul of America

I am worried.  I had this feeling in 2016.  I had a feeling in my gut that it was possible that Trump could be elected.  The polls all had him down significantly.  But I watched what he did in the debates.  And I knew the people he was speaking to, reaching.  And in my gut I had a feeling he could win the presidential election.  I have not as strong a feeling now, but I see he’s up to his old tricks.  The question–and it’s a vital question–is how many people are with him this time?

So much of the US now has witnessed him in action.  We know what he’s all about.  These days we see mass protests all over the world about racial injustice in the US–particularly in regard to police brutality.  Trump is not with this movement.  Trump has ducked out of the COVID-19 pandemic because he embarrassed himself so disgracefully publicly.  But the pandemic rages on anyway.  Racial injustice in the US rages on.  And Trump is fleeing these problems like an ostrich with it’s head in the sand, even as he hid in his bunker at the White house while the voice of America’s conscience rose up en masse.  It is not my intention to list the wrongs I perceive in Trump–they are abundantly clear.  We know who Trump is.  But the question remains, “How many Americans are with him?”

I am an American.  I was born in the US.  I was brought up and educated in the US.  I live in Canada, now, a country that is not favorable to the US; I know this because they tell me this almost daily.  But I never disguise my American heritage.  I love my country.

I do not like what I see Trump standing up for.  I can easily dismiss this man, and say to myself that he does not represent the America I know and love.  However, it’s a different matter if a majority of the American people reelect him.  Then it’s a statement of what the country stands for, not just one man.  That concerns me deeply.  I would be very disappointed in America if the majority of the country sides with Trump and what Trump stands for.  I am putting this all in print.  So I must choose my words carefully.  But I am willing to say this: if Trump is reelected by a majority of the American people, I will have to seriously reconsider my citizenship in the country I was born in, educated in, and still proudly call my homeland.

Some Aphorisms and Questions

Who are the guardians of canon?  And by what criteria?  And who gives them their authority?

Poetry is that which cannot be expressed in prose.

Can a person sin who does not have a vocabulary in which that word is found?

Quit acting like COVID-19 is over!

Have you ever wondered, “Why is there a flower?”  And then, “Why does the flower delight?”–My pilgrimage from amoeba to Homo Sapiens Sapiens did not depend upon delicate pedals.

 

STRANGE FRUIT OF INJUSTICE

Raw

You wouldn’t know we’re in COVID-19

News programs air continuous coverage of

Protests

The whole country watched a man beg for breath

Beg for life

Murder

Huge crowds together in COVID-19

Solidarity

I count four days, I think

Night after night, day after day, throughout the country

Crowds

Destruction, fires, white supremacists

Pollution of peaceful prophetic voices

Huge voices

The crowds, unemployment, economic disparity

Injustice

400 years

In the midst of a movement

In COVID-19

Words fail

Riots

More words called out, called for

Repentance

Reform

Regeneration

Peace

No peace, no justice

ETHICS AND COVID-19

I drove home today, after a long walk in the park,

Past the reopened bars, coffee shops, on Whyte Avenue

Observed the patrons seated at tables outside and inside in the darkness

During the past few months ethics were easy:

Stay home

That meant pass time, pass time well, at home:

Read good books, go on walks, play music, binge TV

My little money lasted longer

Now that I don’t have to stay home, is it enough

To pass time, pass time well, at home?

Why did I wander around shopping malls, eat breakfast at coffee shops, lose money at the

casino?

Crave more money.

I know why I went out to hear live music.

Maybe I will still shelter in place

Read good books, go on walks, play music.

I am not the same since COVID-19

Will not be the same.

We’ll see about binging TV, craving more money.

Capitalism, Socialism, and COVID-19

In the Unites States, there is pressure to reopen.  And some areas are reopening in ways that disregard the advice of medicine.  For instance, in Wisconsin, bars are open with patrons partying shoulder-to-shoulder, swizzling beers and shots.  Wisconsin is a laboratory for the rest of us.  If everything goes well, so much the better.  If Wisconsin shows a peak of new COVID-19 cases, then the medical experts were right.  I gamble sometimes, but I wouldn’t gamble as Wisconsin is.  But the real issue is, why this desperation to reopen?  I think that the answer is in political systems.  And it comes down to a test of capitalism versus socialism.

The pressures to reopen in the US are driven by economics.  People are out of money.  The US government redistributed wealth in the form of a one-time check for $1,200.  For most Americans, that wouldn’t even cover one month’s rent.  Then there are electric bills, cable and internet bills, phone, and food–just to name a few expenses that an average household owes monthly.  So Americans are desperate.  It wasn’t cabin fever that led to armed protests in Lansing, Michigan.  It was desperation driven by economic deprivation.

In France, which has a more socialistic government than the US has, people receive nearly 90% of their work salary as a government subsidy.  I haven’t seen protests in France to reopen.  Neither have I seen them in Canada, where residents can apply for a monthly $2,000 check.  Let’s assume that cabin fever is about equal in the US, France, and Canada.  We see that in France and Canada, cabin fever hasn’t driven people to protest.  The US society is based on capitalism.  Also, the US has a strong tradition of individualism.  That means if you are a white-collar worker, you can work from home and keep your high income.  But if you are a blue-collar worker, it is probable that your income derives from the very workplaces that are shut down during the pandemic.  President Trump has used an executive order to force meat processing plants back to work.  And he hasn’t insisted that proper safety protocols be implemented.  He just wants to eat well.  He has the power to use executive authority to produce COVID tests, to help identify which workers are a threat to others.  But he hasn’t used such an executive order.  For the protesters in the US, money is driving them to risk their lives and to go back to work unsafely.  And for workers in meat processing plants, where safety protocols are not being implemented, Trump is ordering them back to work.  In France and Canada, the national government has set in place safety measures for the whole country to observe–the familiar shelter-in-place orders.  This has not happened in the US.  Trump thinks that such a national policy is socialism.  His capitalistic ideology leads him to encourage the country to open without federal guidance.  “Vaccine or no vaccine, we’re back,” Trump bragged.  The US is careening toward a desperate COVID-19 spike in a few weeks, as it opens economies unsafely.  While France and Canada have kept their numbers down and are instituting a graduated, staged reopening.  That is the difference between capitalism and socialism.  And it is playing out as unsafe and safe reopening plans for the respective political systems.

A LITANY COMMERCIALIZING COVID-19

Now that we are all staying apart . . . buy our product

We are all in this together . . . buy our product

Front-line workers, we salute you . . . buy our product

We stand together, though we stand apart . . . buy our product

During these extraordinary times . . . buy our product

There will be a time when we all can stand together . . . buy our product

Your home is now your office, your gym, your school-house . . . buy our product

Together we can help save the restaurants we love . . . by using our product

Adversity came to town, but together we’ll get through it . . . buy our product

We have no shame; we’ll use anything to get you to buy our product

IN THE PEAK OF COVID-19

What was that I needed to get done today?

Well, nothing really—I can barely remember

When they shut us down, shut down my ambition

–“I have to what?!”—”Do what?!”–

That mandated sloth that tells me stall, stop

So I slouch upon my couch, and pass time

At times, I take the time to touch base

With a treasured book—which I never would have

Chasing time filled with needless activity

Chasing a job, a dollar, more money

No money and nothing to spend it on—

I would go to the mall, the bookstore, the casino

And with a home library filled with good books

I never did read, read now—sometimes

When I can find the incentive

And my poems that I organize to send out

Re-read, fix, edit,–search out publishers

When I can’t find the incentive

And just slouch upon the couch

And watch TV that I don’t like

Don’t like not doing what I want to get done

This mandated sloth, this slovenly lost ambition

Not even waiting for it all to be over

Just waiting on time, making time, taking time, time to get something done

Plenty to get done today, and nothing, really

IMPLICATIONS OF COVID-19

This is a big deal

I try to ignore it all, and pass time

But my sapped energy belies my effort

So I consider it all

The economy halted

People broke, food banks emptied, businesses bankrupt

Public bailout money enriching the coffers of hedge funds

Whose obscene profits display a conscience as bankrupt

As Ma and Pop businesses who do need a bailout but close down

The rising numbers, desperately watching for the curve to flatten, diminish

Wondering what life will be like afterward

When afterward will be

It’s a lot to take in: the scope, my rage

Isolation, social distance, pondering

That saps my energy, and the TV is my only comforter

GETTING TO ME

I’ve never been so mad and spiteful in all my life

I watch the death toll rise daily without abatement

At home alone, practicing shelter-in-place to help the initiative

I get mad easily these days

I choke in my rage at what looks like incompetence and self-serving

By the president, what seems cruel partisanship of Wisconsin’s legislature

Putting lives at risk by disallowing an election’s delay during the pandemic

I crave statesmanship

I’m ashamed at the ill-will I feel, what I wish would happen . . .

While safe at home, COVID-19 is still getting to me

THE CITY IN COVID-19

The city is quiet

There are hardly any sirens

Traffic is lighter

When we go for walks

In the deserted park

Drivers wave as they pass

On the nearby roads

I dodge sparse people

In the grocery store

We decided to order take-out

From our favorite restaurant

At home, I write music, play and learn, record,

Read, and there are other projects, chores

But mostly I watch TV

Where I learn the latest about COVID-19

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