By Samantha Terrell
We have arrived
At precisely the place we have been heading—
On the ever-upward escalator
Of decades long stagnation
Meant only to thwart the progress of our nation,
Even as we’re sold
The legend of American upward mobility.
“See how you keep moving?!”
Now, our empire’s lungs
Are becoming clogged with a multi-faceted dysfunction.
We are told to stay home
While society teeters
Amidst this gravitational unrest
Greed mocks the pain of
Who’ve been offered
No shelter, even as they
Are told to “shelter in place;”
Greed mocks the plight of
The working poor
Who are told to stay home from
Their meager jobs,
With no other way to feed their kids;
Greed mocks the predicament of
The uninsured and under-insured
Who are told to see a doctor,
If they exhibit
Greed mocks the quandary
Who are told
To risk public health, and their own well-being
For the sake of democracy.
What’s finally publicly revealed is this:
That all of that climbing
Got us precisely nowhere, gained us nothing
More than a predictable stagnant reaction
To the ever-rising needs of our ever-static societal factions.
Outside your lonely chamber,
Looking in – by Zoom – the only way I’m able,
I worry over your reaction to nightshade vegetables.
Our ancient church organist
Rarely had anything positive to say, though
Sometimes helpful and positive are two different things.
She spoke, once, of potatoes and inflammation and rash –
There’s no party but confetti, now, is sprinkled over your chest,
Arms and legs.
Your heart pounds, you tell me.
My own heart is intermittently inflamed
With frustration by emotions yet unnamed.
Allergens course through your body.
Feelings course through mine.
The antidote to both is time.
As sickening death
A wanton cry
“Be more! Do more!”
Prove that compassion
Is not dead–
A privilege reserved
For the select.
For, in a generation
Whose great iniquity
Is the practice of
The true pandemic
Threat, is Apathy.
Samantha Terrell, author of Vision, and Other Things We Hide From (Potter’s Grove Press) is a widely published American poet whose work emphasizes self-awareness as a means to social awareness.
I have found that I have more time and ability to structure my time around writing which has been a silver lining during lockdown.