Three Poems

By Adrienne Stevenson

Pandumbic

I have a hunch
not quite a belief
that this crisis will not end
ill-information spread with intent
permeates our collective consciousness
mind-worms incessantly tunnelling
into the depths of our permeable psyches
leave gaping holes
empty

Many people
anticipate business as usual
the return of super-sized consumer society
as both tribal totem and virtue worthy of aspiration
their self-esteem dependent on what they buy
how much conformity informs their view
on the other hand, such dogmatism
precludes society’s evolution
external growth devolves
to internal withering
and dust

a web of wealth
has plundered the planet’s riches
into ever fewer hands, what remains
degraded, diminished, is mere detritus
of stagnating cultures
outworn creeds
fetishes
cults

if we act
we might change

if we wait
it will be too late

Fitting the Data

day by day the data mounts
raw figures accumulate
this many cases, that many deaths
even more undetected
wander through masked gatherings
adding their breath to the clouds
of vaporous viral particles

but how to make sense of the data
seems beyond consensus
each group of specialists maintains
their own model, plots the points
so that lines straighten, become
less frightening when log-transformed
curves apparently flattened

the truth is that nobody knows
this disease acts in unfamiliar ways
wild rumours circulate along with the virus
pressure is brought to bear
by those who value money over lives
public health an irritant
to their drive for profit

and still we try to fit the data to a curve
not knowing how to interpret
the resulting shapes and trends
without a comprehensible model
that fits the multivariate symptoms
the variables of age, race, social status
we grope blindly to solve the puzzle

we teeter on the edge, shout boldly
into the unknowable future
talking apes that mouth gibberish
long to return to grooming each other
while the apocalypse creeps along
ever present, ever devouring
the illusion that is normalcy

How to Bow

how long ago it seems
when you and I could meet
exchange greetings and embrace
put our heads together
over recorded memories
laugh and sing and dance
with no thought of hazard
no hint of peril

today, and all foreseeable
days to come, we must avoid
almost all closeness
physical separations
intolerable for us
confined in our unnatural bubbles
we have all had to learn
how to bow
to the inevitable

and what will come after?
we have hopes
that solutions may be found
and fears that they will not
before crisis piled on crisis
causes our whole teetering structure
to collapse in its own debris
which then burns away
with the residual forests

Adrienne Stevenson lives in Ottawa, Canada. Her poetry has been widely published in print and online, most recently in Page & Spine, Jaden, and Still Point Arts Quarterly.

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Nancy Huggett
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Nancy Huggett
12 days ago

Hello Adrienne from another Ottawa ! Wonderful to read your wonderful poems!

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