DONNY APPLEVIRUS John Chapman traveled far and wide planting seeds. Apple seeds. John Chapman changed the native land. Planted apple trees. This is something travelers do— spread new seeds. Plant new stock. Itinerants might not stay long. Their footprint does. A virus travels free today. Some get sick. Some pass on. Warnings flash from every screen for all to heed. But power struggles reign today. Choose your name. Cast your vote. Donald stages circuses across the land. Crowds sit close-- no masks, just hats… Shouting cheers. Shouting jeers. And when he leaves, the virus spikes. More sick. More dead. Like Johnny Appleseed, he plants virus here, virus there. Seeds his base, case after case. His legacy.
AWOL FROM THE PANDEMIC What day is it? Who cares? Sun’s out! Shut-ins are fleeing their coops, flocking to Lake Chabot, and the path that follows the shore’s lazy loops. A man in a face mask totes poles, net and pail. Bikers with bells swerve past guys on the trail. Homebound parents and kids need a break, so call this P.E.! Today, school’s at the lake. All sorts of joggers, some fleet and some puffing work out for fitness, or shaving off stuffing. Dog walkers everywhere tug dogs on leashes. (We’re short-leashed too. COVID-19’s capricious.) Picnics prohibited. Potties are locked. Charcoal grills covered. Rental boats docked. Yet families trudge up the trail with their strollers. Hikers are young people, middles, and oldsters. Nod as they pass—no one pauses to talk. Everyone’s cautious when risking this walk. Shelter, but break for essentials like these: striding through tunnels of green, sun on the water, trees on the hills… Just pause panic mode—and breathe clean!
THE FIRST YEAR OF COVID Dec. 2019: The World Health Organization says that a mysterious pneumonia is sickening dozens in China. Wuhan was not our problem. We were busy— shopping, planning, seeing friends, going to work and coming home tired, looking forward to the weekend… Suddenly, a switch flipped. Warning lights flashed. Normal became dangerous— avoid friends, suspect strangers, postpone family gatherings. Lurking in ambush was an invisible killer: COVID 19, SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus. Dr. Fauci tried to help: Wash your hands. Mask your face. Stay home. Stay safe. That was March, 2020. Now it’s October, 2020. The virus, our leader said, was just another flu. It will disappear in April, like magic. It didn’t. Over 200,000 have died, and the toll rises daily. You get it, you get over it, he said. Don’t let it dominate you. Dominate? Is this an arm-wrestling contest? If we act macho, will COVID slink away? Have you ever played Peek-a-Boo with a baby? Cover his eyes. You disappear. Uncover—Peek-a-Boo! You’re back! We have a leader who is telling us: Cover your eyes. Stop testing so much. Then COVID cases will go down. We will dominate. Send kids to school Open bars, gyms, restaurants, stores. Ditch the masks. Feed the economy. Cover your eyes. See? Like magic, COVID disappears. Peek-a-Boo! But people keep on getting sick. Not quite recovering. Many die. Too many. As the world watches, a 74 year old toddler tries to bully COVID, rips off his mask on a balcony overlooking cameras, plans more rallies, phones in to Fox to blame and gloat, strategizes that if we shut our eyes, we win. But we lose. Lose jobs. Lose shelter. Lose lives. The White House is the new Wuhan. There’s dynamite behind every door. Our leader is the super-spreader. Our country is the loser.