lgloyd (c) 2021
Half a dozen old men sit in a line along the counter, some watching the news on a tiny screen mounted over the stacks of styrofoam to-go containers. Others hunch over cups of coffee keeping silent company, each with himself. A young woman in a blue pandemic face mask wipes down the counter with a stained towel.
At a table three young men in paint-spattered shirts quietly converse in Spanish and finish up their bacon and eggs. At the back of the dining room, a toddler encased in a highchair flings to the floor chubby fistfuls of Cheerios. His father ignores him and shoves a forkful of syrup-soaked pancake into his mouth. The child’s mother, with dark circles under her eyes, sucks on a straw in a glass of soda and stares into nothingness.
The rest of the diner’s mismatched plastic white chairs and farm-styled faux oak tables are vacant. Framed photos of vintage cars hang crookedly on dingy yellow walls intermixed with black and white signed photos of forgotten celebrities, a head shot of Ronald Reagan, a tattered newspaper restaurant review from 1994, and a broken neon Budweiser sign.
In the center of a wall is a poster of Helnwein’s Boulevard of Broken Dreams.
Unceasing top offs–
soggy newsprint spread across
chipped dark Formica
*A haibun is descriptive prose followed by a haiku tangentially related to the prose.
Marge Piercy is a favorite poet of mine. Here is a poem that spoke to me today. I turn to it every time I’m feeling a little defeated. It is best heard, rather than read.
I have not done much creative writing to speak of in the last seventeen months. No poetry, and only one brief story on Day 71 of my lockdown.
This morning, I was wondering why.
I think my creative mind has been stunned into silence by all that has happened to me personally during the lockdown. I think all of us have had the wind knocked out of us to one degree or another. Everything is different. There will be no going back to “normal”. Even if the day comes when we are all vaccinated (I know, wishful thinking), and we don’t have to wear masks anymore, and we can go to theatres and schools and churches and baseball games, some of us will always be hesitant to get too close to strangers or be obsessively looking for the hand-sanitizing stations. Some of us will be in constant fear of another pandemic and lockdown.
The fact is that another pandemic WILL happen again. This virus is already mutating and will mutate even more. I predict that we will need to get new vaccinations every year for this virus, just like a regular flu shot.
Furthermore, as the climate changes and the ice caps melt, ancient viruses even more devastating than this current one might emerge from the melt. Some might argue with me about this, but it doesn’t matter if that actually happens or not. The point is I will constantly be living with the fear that another Plague will happen.
Even worse than the fear of getting sick and dying, I am no longer able to trust the reasoning power of others. I know so many people who are downright crazy in their fear of science and common sense to the point where they will not get vaccinated. It is almost like a mass psychosis, a group mental illness. Seriously, do some of you really think you are being micro-chipped by getting a vaccine? Get the damn vaccine, alright?
So how is this going to affect my creative output? I know some creatives wont include a mention of the pandemic in their work. How can they ignore an event that created such a foundational crumbling of all that we have thought safe and secure? Is it a form of denial? I suppose writing and reading creative fiction and poetry is a form of therapy for many creatives, a refuge in a time of trauma. Well, I guess I have some sympathy for that. I just spent the last year and a half posting photos and drawings of safe things like flowers, fruit, fish and birds.
But eventually we creatives will need to address the elephant — er, rather the big gray and red spiky thing in the room. I cannot see how we can’t.
My original goal when I gained access to a garden of my own was to grow my own vegetables. That did not work out so well. It is simply more cost effective to buy my own. However, I discovered that with a little work to rehabilitate the soil and a strategic use of water flowers have taken hold. So I shifted my goal to that of creating a bee sanctuary. While I do have bees visit the the flowers, I also have hummingbirds, moths, wasps and hornets, and butterflies. All of these are pollinators too. Okay, let’s shift the intention again: my goal is to create a pollinators’ oasis.
This weekend while visiting a local nature center, I coincidentally came across a lecture by the center’s curator on the monarch butterfly. (If you want to know more about the monarch, see here: ) The center plants a variety of milkweed types, the monarchs’ favorite food, in an attempt to boost their population in the area. The monarchs’ habitat, like for many species, is threatened by– guess who?– us. They also rear a few in captivity for educational purposes which they then release. I happened to be there when they released a newly emerged monarch. See the video below.
Now, I don’t intend to rear any at home, since there is some controversy to that (if you read the Wikipedia article), but I do happen to have two packages of pink milkweed seeds. It won’t hurt to sow them. I will wait to a waxing moon to do so.
Nevertheless, like it or not, I seem to have become drawn to the cause of saving this iconic pollinator.
ljgloyd (c) 2021
I have a question for my readers: Do any of you post on WordPress? I have blogged on WP since 2006, loved it for a long time, but have come to absolutely loathe this platform now ever since they stopped supporting the Classic Editor on the free package. It has become so difficult to create posts with their incomprehensible “block” editor that it is disrupting my creative process.
I want to switch to another platform that is easier to use. Blogger/Blogspot is easy but they just discontinued their email subscription notification function so there is no way my followers can know when I post. What is the point of having a site there if no one knows you’ve posted?
Do any of you even blog anymore? Is blogging dead? Is it all Instagram now? (which I equally loathe). I don’t know what to do. Comments welcome.
A finished Prismacolor pencil still life hanging in my kitchen. From my own photo reference.
Now that my area is almost back to normal, I decided that I had to get back out into nature. The places I used to visit for my fix of blue skies, greenery, and water are now too far away, requiring too much time out of my weekend to reach. I think the Universe felt sorry for me and showed me an urban nature center only 3 miles from my home with miles of hiking trails all around it. I had no idea this little gem was almost in my backyard.
This morning I visited: meditated under a sycamore tree, watched the monarch butterflies flit, the hummingbirds drone, and a pair of killdeer birds with three chicks peck through the meadow grass. I also pieced together this bit of video of the garden with its indigenous flora. I think I will make this a weekly practice.
I used to read a lot, especially at the beginning of the pandemic lockdown. Now, not so much. I can’t say why. Is it because I am tired? Depressed? I have not been writing either. I”ve run out of things to say. Could it be that not writing has disrupted my desire to read? Or is not reading derailing my desire to write? Neither have I been drumming. That I assumed because I need to have a group and I stopped going to drum circle last year. I have been making art, working in the garden, and cooking. But how much longer will that last? It seems that anything to do with words has been gummed up. Too much effort? I don’t know. Maybe a disruption to my reading/writing– that is, my WORD addiction– is just one more consequence of this past year. Don’t know. And right now I am too tired to care.