Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Poem During the Plague: Poem 24

Linda Conte


The news is snapping up our attention
but the details are noise.
The speakers and tweeters grab our cheeks
and turn our faces to their most
blatant lies and horrific facts so hard
we fail to notice the grays on the edges.

We see only sharp edges
of discord and blog-soldiers at attention
ready to come down hard
numbing us with more noise.
What we fear most
is a mere slap on the cheek

or even a kiss on the cheek
because we are the ones gone soft at the edges.
We put on our most
determined look and feign attention
and add our clicks to the noise
because our lives are hard.

We pound our keyboards hard
but from real action we turn our cheeks.
On the streets we block the noise,
don headphones and skulk on the edges
trying not to draw attention.
We ignore those we should hold most.

What we hope for most
the thing that is really hard,
is that our children need attention.
The tears run down their cheeks
and wet the soft edges
of their mouths which make no noise.

We must make some noise.
There are so many of us almost
forced to the edges.
The fears will push back hard
but we won’t turn our cheeks.
We control our attentions!

We’ll make some noise about what’s hard.
The most meek among us will show their cheek.

Those on the edges will have our attention.

***Linda Haviland Conte serves on the board of the New England Poetry Club as treasurer, and recently retired from working in the Somerville Public Schools. She received a Somerville Arts Council Grant to lead a local poetry-writing workshop. A graduate of Connecticut College, Linda was a founding member and occasional editor of Ibbetson Street magazine. She has participated as a panelist on the topic of Poetry and Community at the Massachusetts and New Hampshire Poetry Festivals (2017). Linda lives with her husband in Somerville, MA.

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