The Big Quarantine – Sunday, May 17, 2020
The Day in Cool Cats and Kittens: A couple times a week during confinement I’ve been getting the greatest postcards from a friend who lives in town. I haven’t seen her since maybe early March and I look forward to her brief notes about how she’s spending her days. She has been sending a variety of postcards she had around her house, including some that she bought on past vacations. No time like the present to get some use from those cards, right?
Turns out my postcard pal visited Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, made famous in the Netflix docu-series Tiger King that was the big hit of the early confinement. Big Cat Rescue is the home of (“That Bitch”) Carole Baskin and I feel like I’m holding a little bit of pandemic history.
The Day in Bird Watching: On my walk today a very large black bird swooped down on the side walk a wee bit ahead of me. Given the emotional stress of Covid, you can forgive me for briefly thinking the angel of death had made a dramatic appearance.
As I got closer, it took off and landed on the highway sign above the street. I’m intimidating like that! Another of the same bird was already waiting up there. I don’t know much about birds, but I’m going to say these were turkey vultures. If I was home-schooling myself, this is just the kind of chance encounter that would necessitate an essay. Here’s what I would say:
“Downtown Turkey Vultures travel in pairs. Despite their tough reputation they mate for life. They like to scare the bejesus out of city dwellers who can be dumb as rocks when it comes to nature. Downtown buzzards feed on rodents and pizza crusts.”
You can see my lack of research would not bode well for a passing grade in Earth Science. Only the second sentence is true.
I look forward to my senile years where I tell the story this way: “I remember the strangest thing about birds during the pandemic of 2020. I saw two bald eagles hitching a ride to Kentucky.” I have to photo to prove it.
By the way, in addition to being a bird, a vulture is A contemptible person who preys on or exploits others. I’ve known a few vultures. A turkey vulture hacking away at a carcass is a great metaphor for predatory human behavior.
The Day in Writing, Words, and Poetry: My apartment is full of pens and paper and notebooks with pages of the best ideas for stories and poems. I write all the time. I delete all the time too. I just need to get the excess words out of my system. I do this thing where I write out what I want to say to someone as a way to get my thoughts in order. It’s pretty rare when my preconceived thoughts match the reality of the conversation, but it is a helpful exercise. I also journal every day making a note of three things that day that made me happy plus other life events I find notable at the time. Basically, I’m well-documented.
I do have a poetic streak and consider myself a desk drawer poet. I distill life events into poetic thoughts all the time. But I don’t always take the time to work on the poem until it is finished, meaning someone else can read it.
This is a long winded way of saying one of my pandemic goals was to submit a chapbook, a small collection of poetry, and today I checked that off my list. The submission is for a contest that pays cash money and digital publication to the winner. I doubt very highly that my collection is a contest winner, but that isn’t the point. I don’t care if I win or get published. I do care that I finished 22 poems. Because there is a reading fee, I supported a small literary press publication, Frontier Poetry. The collection is called Sidewalks and Bricks: Life in the Urban Core. That title practically begs the folks at Frontier to take it seriously! I’m pretty happy to have sent it out into the world.
Due to the contest rules, I can’t post the poems here, but I can post one from the collection that was previously published online at the Vincent Brothers Review. I know most people aren’t into poetry. That’s cool. But if you are, I hope you like this one.
A Night at the Symphony –Music Hall
The old crowd
Chatter bounces off the lobby marble
Auditorium seats built for a smaller generation
Hey, they still have the same concert master
He always seems humbled by the attention
The orchestra tunes up
A quintessential sound
The conductor turns his back
Tap Tap Tap
The music starts with the low trill of bassoon
We settle in
The oboe player really wants to scratch his nose
…I need to focus
The cellist has quite a leg hold on his instrument
I need to buy tomato paste
Okay, 3rd and final movement
I think I recognize this part
The flutes and violins start to go at it
The horn section joins the crescendo
The percussion players move into position
I expect a big, loud finish
Boom…Everyone on stage is banging and blowing
The conductor is flailing
The timpani bursts
Furious tinging from the triangle
A split second of silence