Pandemic Ponderings and Pain

Recently a colleague told of turning up to an old favourite cafe. It was closed. It made me ponder some of the last two and half years. The examples are by no way exhaustive. Just samples.

Pandemic Ponderings and Pain

i.

Astride a makeshift ergo stool

A teacher MS Teams her students, while

The eyes at the back of her head

Crane to the open door behind her, where

across the hall

Her own children logon

Uniformed in headphones

To their own class.

For whom is she the teacher?

Her class? Her kids? Or society?

Before this

Hybrid was a plant

Or a car

Not a learning style.

Learning from this all.

ii.

Through fog-misted glasses

A young registrar doctor

Glances at the nurse beside her

His temples almost bleeding

From the tightness the surgical mask creates

One of doctor’s colleagues resigned last week

One of nurses fainted on shift

A head injury making her a patient.

Is the virus the only health crisis?

How do we vaccinate exhaustion?

And treat mental health?

iii.

“Permanently closed”

The sign said

The window seats

Face the Lakeside views

With no one seated on them

No scents of steam or stir-fry fill the air

Covid cancel of a cosy lunch

Fancy a delivered meal on the duvet again?

With a streaming service soundtrack.

Another small business is no more.

iv.

User-paid solitary confinement

As aged care locks down once more

A room with a view,

Maybe,

Maybe not.

What day is it?

Staff slide meals and medications into my cell.

Might as well have the virus and be in bed

There’s little else to my day.

v.

Educators

Healthcare workers

Small business people

Those in residential aged care:

We may not see you

But we gaze in your direction

We can’t count your cost

But applaud your courage

Maybe someone will come,

we hope so

To admire your class

Or refresh your mask

Or present a new business opportunity

Or invite you out of your room

We thank you

You who keep us grounded

And who forge the frontiers

Of our new normal.

Simon C.J. Falk 5 July 2022

Faces Of the Day

Faces Of the Day

Faces of the day

A glint in an eye

A wan, worried expression

A loving look

Or all pursed and puzzled

Tired tints and tones.

In each face

I see a reflection 

as in a mirror

A sense of common humanity

all one family

And craft of the creator.

Simon C.J. Falk 16 June 2022

RATs n STATs

Apologies to Dr Seuss

These words kept pestering me so I had to exorcise and transfer them. Sorry that you caught the transference!

The RATs n STATS

The RATS n STATs

Inhabit our flats

Where we hang up our hats

So how about that!

When will Omicron

Finally be gone?

It’s getting tough

When we’ve had enough

So today

As we go our way

We smile and say G’day

1.5 metres away

Behind masks for the fray.

We long for the morning

When we need no more warning

As we wake up yawning

When the new hope is dawning.

Simon C.J. Falk 29 January 2021

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Don’t forget to look for the #WATWB. I’ll join in when I get my act together!

Lockdown Letdown or Variations on Mark 5:1-20

Lockdown Letdown or Variations on Mark 5. 1-20

The pandemic has gone on for a long time now. People are tired. Bone tired. Resilience has run down. Some have lost work or are living in the fear of doing so. Although we know that many of the issues are complex and cannot be solved rapidly or easily, we still lose patience. In addition to our own struggles, we go online only to see the struggles of others. Their frustrations and angst are expressed or even ranted, looking for a home. Some of their angst gets transferred on to the accumulation of our own. While walking I caught this transfer happening to me. Then this happened.

Why do you want to heal me?

Who am I?

Legion

There are many of us

Faces like mine

Mirrored here

And there

And everywhere.

We are isolated and locked down

Nowhere to go

Let us out!

We can only walk or run

Around the same blocks

So many times.

We want to go to

The footy

The club

The gym

The church.

We want to hoon around

In our cars

Like bloody bogans

Terrorising old ladies

And little children

And the frazzled nerves

Of sequestered parents

Invigilating “online learning”.

We want to be out in the streets

Bawling and shouting

“My rights! My rights!”

We don’t care if we get the virus

As we’re dying in here anyhow.

Don’t try to make us feel bad

By talking of Afghanis who

Dream of being able to exercise rights

Or of earthquake affected Haitians

Who don’t have homes to have a lockdown.

We can’t fix them!

We want to be keyboard warriors

Or serve salvos of the seething stew

Boiling in our bile.

Give us our vaccination yesterday!

We are programmed consumers

And we want our product already!

Give us those police and politicians.

Let us hurl our hate at them.

How dare they do not show up to the press

Every. Single. Day.

Why should they rest?

We don’t!

Or aren’t!

Or can’t!

Let us release all our hate

On them!

Let them be

Our scapegoats

Our herd of swine

Cast into the drowning foment.

Take our torment!

Take it!

Take….

It’s … It’s… Gone?

It’s gone!

I’m free

I don’t have to lockdown

My heart

My reason

My soul

I’m free.

Simon C.J Falk      23 August 2021.

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He Spoke Into the Vacancy

He Spoke Into the Vacancy

He spoke

Into the vacancy

Slow, low

Spoken words

Not at all

Like the chit-chat

We began with

Now words are

Paced

Not raced but

Placed

Like offerings to

The air

And ear

That listens

Listens

First the back-story

Listens

Ah, now

Now

Here

The pain

The poverty

Of the soul

Laid bare

Kind

Of him to

Share

And share we do

The silence

The space

The questions

Again?

Yes!

Simon C.J. Falk 26 June 2021

As Ponds Reflect

As Ponds Reflect

As ponds reflect

The trees and sky

So do we

Reflect

People and places

Around and

Held

Within ourselves.

Simon C.J. Falk 24 May 2021

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More #WATWB coming soon!

Who Speaks? A Valentine Shadow Side

These words were not easy to write. None of us like to be the “kill joy” to others bliss. But as with Mother’s and Father’s Days, Christmas, New Year and so on, Valentine’s Day can be a day of pain for some whom we know. As with those other days, on Valentine’s Day, I’m reminded of the tristesse of those who are widowed, divorced, abused, single and feel isolated and alone. That brings me to the second reason why these words were hard to write. To write them means to see the faces and feel something of the pain of those whom I know and some whom, in my own way, I do actually love. So for them… for those you know…. and for others too… Who speaks?

Who Speaks? A Valentine Shadow Side

Who speaks for

Them who

Visit their valentine in

A sunny graveyard

With memories, sweet memories

Wafting in on the breeze

Across their tear-lined cheeks?

Who speaks for

Those whose valentine

Bolted

Beat or

Cheated

Or still do and

As valentine’s day comes

May feel blue

In heart and flesh?

Who fills the void for

Those who don’t have

A valentine

Didn’t and may not

Feel the presence

Of one

Tomorrow?

Who are their company

On this

Loneliest

Day for them?

Who fills?

Who heals?

Who meets?

The shadow

Of a loving presence

Darkens

Those in absence.

Whence comes the lantern?

Whom shall bear it?

Simon C.J. Falk                   15 February 2021


A COVID Christmas

A COVID Christmas

Boggle, gurgle, woozle fizz!

Professor Fuzz is a science whizz.

You’ll find him in his lab for sure,

Working day and night for a COVID cure.

Cynthia Small wasn’t tall,

But she worked the wards and all,

Nursing COVID patients there.

Many knew her tender care.

Worker Lim was making time,

Manufacturing masks on a production line.

An order came for him from the top.

“Your afternoon is free so you can stop!”

When Cynthia went to her coffee room,

People everywhere dispelled the gloom,

All department stores were there around,

With Christmas Carols providing the sound.

“You cared for our colleagues and grandmas too,

So we brought the shops to you!”

In a place quite far way,

A Son looked down in love upon that day.

Although he seemed so far apart,

Somehow, he’s also in our heart.

He remembered back to a manger and stable,

Where he was born when no inn was able.

That when he had come to birth.

To bring peace to hearts and joy on earth.

Prose addendum: Here’s a fun fact for reader’s. My maternal Grandfather, Patrick Anthony Thomas “Pat” O’Reilly, was known to write verses for his mates at bowls and in the then local newpaper. He died on 1 December in the early 1950s. On 1 December 2020 I woke to the beginnings of this poem rattling around inside me!

Simon C.J. Falk  1 December 2020

Not Just Some Other

Not Just Some Other

I am black

I am white

In restful dark

And shining light.

I am yellow

I am red

I am hard at work

And resting in bed.

I am albino

I am brown

I am in grief

I am a clown.

I am in tropic

Or on the tundra

Even in the Land Down Under.

I am in lush forest

And on arid land

I have an open

And a closed hand.

I am a child

I am old

Sometimes I tell stories

Other times I am told.

I am you

And you are me

Together we can all be free.

You are my sister and my brother

Together we are persons

Not just some “Other”.

Simon C.J. Falk 29 November 2020

A Cornish Turn: Charles Causley

Cornish Coast at Lands End, c.2012.

I’m very grateful to Polly at Rocks and Bones for drawing my attention to Charles Causley, a poet from Cornwall. Raised from humble beginnings, this sailor, teacher and poet is quite a chap. We began chatting about Welsh poets. Then, turning to Cornwall, I asked about Cornish poets and Polly sent me Charles Causley’s very fine poem Timothy Winters. It is dreadfully sad and you can find excerpts of Timothy Winters at wikipedia.

Here is a fun one called Colonel Fazackerley Butterworth-Toast.

Colonel Fazackerley Butterworth-Toast
Bought an old castle complete with a ghost,
But someone or other forgot to declare
To Colonel Fazak that the spectre was there.

On the very first evening, while waiting to dine,
The Colonel was taking a fine sherry wine,
When the ghost, with a furious flash and a flare,
Shot out of the chimney and shivered, ‘Beware!’

For the remainder of the poem you can read, listen to, or both, at Poem Hunter. As is often the case, writers become acquainted with other writers. As we see from wikipedia

He was corresponded with well-acquainted with such writers as Siegfried SassoonA. L. RowseSusan HillJack Clemo and Ted Hughes (his closest friend) — and a host of other figures from the literary, publishing and wider cultural spheres around the world, as well the southwest region. In addition to Causley’s poetry dealing with issues of faith, folklore, memory, his wartime experience and its later impact, landscape, travel, friends and family, his poems for children were and remain very popular. He used to say that he could have lived comfortably on the fees paid for the reproduction of ‘Timothy Winters’.

Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath would be known to other poetry fans and I have mentioned Plath before.

It is wonderful to be taken on a poetic pilgrimage to new poets from other lands.

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