Saturday, May 23, 2020

Poem During the Plague: Poem 49

Sergio Inestrosa

Two strangers

In the twists and turns of this pandemic
In the meanders of the uncertain and unknown
Today, when leaving the confinement for the first time, 
Two strangers 
With their mouths protected by masks 
For fear of contagion 
They are, by chance, in the same row. 
Her body trembles from the proximity, now banned, 
(formerly perhaps longed for) 
Almost an invasion of the space of personal safety 
That she feels puts her at risk
(of course there is no guarantee of anything). 
From his clear eyes a luminous ray 
Filled with fear 
Paralyzes the other, strikes him as reckless; 
Fortunately, he realizes in time of his daring, 
Of his gross error. 
In what is called the new normality 
(no matter what it means) 
fear separates them and drives them away, 
The healthy distance, which repels even the shadow 
Of that other who retreats scared 
To his designated place, 
Leaving a void between them, 
That area denied, 
(which may, for the moment, give them security) 
Forbidden not to touch the other or with their breath.

*****   Sergio Inestrosa received his PhD in Literature from the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, Mexico in 1998. Sergio was a Jesuit student for 8 years in Central America, living in El Salvador, Panama and Nicaragua. While in El Salvador he studied with Ignacio Ellacuria, a well known Jesuit scholar who was killed in 1988 by the military. When Professor Inestrosa returned to Mexico, he studied to receive a Masters in Communication and became a professor and researcher in the Communication field. He has presented many research papers in Mexico, Latin America, USA and Asia, and has published 6 books in Mexico. In 1999 he taught Spanish at the Estrella Mountain College in Avondale, Arizona, and in 2000 he conducted Postdoctoral research at Harvard, focusing on the works of Octavio Paz. Since coming to Endicott, Professor Inestrosa has been teaching Spanish and Mexican Culture and has been busy organizing a Spanish Cine Club on campus. He has also developed the Spanish minor and designed many new courses, including Spanish for Professionals, Spanish Cinema, Spanish Translation, Spanish Composition, Latin American History and Culture, and a Latin American literature course. 
Sergio Inestrosa's area of expertise includes: US/Mexico relations. His recent collection of poetry is Los Bordes del Placer

Friday, May 22, 2020

Poem During the Plague: Poem 48

John Morgan

Note: the zuihitsu is a Japanese form involving loosely related sections, often numbered. Calling on free association, it makes use of diary material, lyrical fragments, and brief essays. The word zuihitsu means “follow the brushstroke.” 


  1. Last night I dreamt I was washing my hands. 

  1. Strong wind. And leaves that survived the winter fall and stick. Their stiff stems hold them upright like small brown pennants waving in the drifts. 

  1. The twins, thirteen months old, were utterly charming. A girl and a boy—she stands and takes a wobbly step to loud applause.  

  1. My boot-tracks from yesterday, tracking a fox’s four-clawed trail, and ahead more tracks where a rabbit bounded across the road. Deep gashes to my right—a moose?  

  1. Our niece, a doctor in NY, writes: "Well technically I’m in the hospital, but in low density area with few face to face patients. My role is to handle the stable ones by phone. We’re trying to prevent them from having any medical reason to leave home." 

  1. The Japanese transition from fact to art: in Basho’s Narrow Road to the Deep North he sometimes makes things up, then alters and revises. See Earl Miner, Japanese Poetic Diaries. 

I said, “I hope he gets it.” 
She said, “I hope he gets it and it kills him.” 
“Well, I wouldn’t go that far, just let him suffer a bit.” 
“I want him dead!” 
“I’m shocked. A nice person like you…” 

  1. Within a day the twins accepted metheir great uncle, filling in for grandpa, my recently deceased brother. My white mustache is of special interest: they’d pull it if I let them.  

  1. Snow drifts at eye level out my office window. I once saw a fox out there. Digging down a foot or more, it uncovered a bird that had smashed against the window and when it finished eating, it dropped a proud turd in the hole.  

  1. They’ve discovered knobs and pull on them to see what will happen. Sometimes a door opens. Sometimes a knob comes off in your hand. 

___John Morgan

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Poem During the Plague: Poem 47

Abigail Bottome recently moved to Plymouth, Massachusetts where she continues to write and spend time observing the natural world. Her PhD dissertation, Walking in Great Marsh, explored the changes to the environment along the Massachusetts coast after the arrival of European settlers. Her focus has shifted to the southeastern coast where the Pilgrims settled on land where the Wampanoags lived for generations. This new environment provides rich opportunities for learning, reflection, and writing. Her poems have appeared in Larcom Review, Ibbetson Street, and Endicott Review among others. A staged reading of her play, Secrets, was presented at The Actor’s Studio of Newburyport under the direction of Marc Clopton. Her novel, Maggie’s Journal, remains unpublished.

What I am learning about grief
(with acknowledgement to NPR for the prompt)

What I am learning about grief
I am learned in grief
Know its contours
depths and lows.
Long ago I donned that garment,
It became part of my wardrobe
Gentle and familiar with time.
This new lesson in grief
contains sharp edges
aspects so scary I shrink.
I cannot trust joy
nor happiness
The road ahead remains dark.

What I am learning about grief
The water in the harbor still charged with sunlight
A dance of sparkling glitter
The sky above still cerulean or cobalt or turquoise.
Dogs still sniff at the brown grass
Runners still run and walkers still walk.

What I am learning about grief
Turning the pages of the magazine
Images of health workers in New York City
Eyes ablaze with worry
Above masked faces
Images from a horror movie
Or Africa
Not here in the greatest country on earth.
So some thought
Though many knew better.

What I am learning about grief
Empty theatre stages, art exhibits, no opera.
What happens to artists
Who live daily through their gifts?
Performance by performance
No audience, no ticket sales, no money.
They rise above this pandemic,
offer performances online, virtual concerts,
A collective world
Of connection and meaning.

What I am learning about grief
Letting go of the what-if, the if only,
the trip that won’t happen.
Instead the sacred space of now
Still, hey, you wonder
What would this spring feel like
without this covid madness?
This sun-filled day like no other
anticipating summertime
walks on the beach, picnics,
dining downtown al fresco
unimaginable innocence,
but this now:
when it’s all returned to normal
it will never be normal again.