Saturday, June 20, 2020

#172 / Readers Write: I Feel A Change Comin' On

On Friday, April 24, 2020, both the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Jose Mercury News printed poems from readers on their opinion pages. I think that this may have been a first for both papers. If so, it was evolutionary convergence, and given the similar themes addressed by these two poems, I asked myself what Bob Dylan, my favorite Nobel Laureate, would say in response: 

What do I say?


Letters to the Editor: Bending the Curve

By Paul Merkoski, Walnut Creek
San Francisco Chronicle, April 24, 2020 

Shared fear creates a sudden trust,

a common hope,

a new resolve.

Generations before us

learned those lessons,

grasped those truths

when war

or economic collapse

turned dreams to dust

and comfort to a memory.

They learned to trust and care,

to share with one another

through long and endless nights

and days

of suffering and pain.

They endured — together.

Survived — together.

And prayed — together:

prayed their children

and their children’s children

would never know

such dark and crushing fears

as theirs.

And here we are — together.

Six feet apart, but joined

by a common strength:

a trust in one another,

determined to endure

once more.


As we must.


Other Views: 20/20 Vision

By Nancy Langstaff Krakauer, Pleasanton
San Jose Mercury News, April 24, 2020

No one could predict the immeasurable fear,

Provoked by a virus the same name as a beer.

A headache, a fever, a cough and a sneeze,

An invisible bug brought the world to its knees.

The life as we knew it is no longer there,

The streets are deserted, the shelves are quite bare.

The stadiums are silent, all sports are on hold,

The Olympics are postponed — no competing for gold.

The theaters are empty, the stage lights are dim,

Bars and restaurants are shut down and so is the gym.

The stores have all shuttered, malls now ghostly halls,

A walk in the park requires new protocols.

Once bustling cities now contain empty squares,

All places of worship, they don’t have a prayer.

Vacations are canceled, all business trips ceased,

The borders between countries are strictly policed.

All meetings are taboo, all classes dismissed,

Things taken for granted no longer exist.

No weddings, no funerals, no birthdays, no proms,

Graduations, celebrations could all cause us harm.

Millions lost livelihoods just overnight,

Uncertainty looms with no ending in sight.

Our arms remain empty, too dangerous to hug,

So near yet so far from the ones that we love.

So many have suffered, so many have died,

Our anxieties and fears have all amplified.

But ...

The air is much cleaner, there are fewer car fumes,

Smokestacks from closed factories have paused spewing plumes.

Less traffic on freeways, less cruise ships on seas,

The planet’s pollution is starting to ease.

The beaches have less trash, the sky’s turning bluer,

Our rivers and oceans are less of a sewer.

We’ve been forced to slow down and examine our lives,

Spend time with our children, our husbands and wives.

We value our friends and reach out to them more,

Including the neighbors that live right next door.

A world once divided has now become one,

To conquer an enemy that affects everyone.

No sex, no religion, nationality or race, 

Is immune from this virus that’s invaded our space.

It took Mother Nature to force us to pause,

And ponder the havoc our actions have caused.

Gave us time to acknowledge our precious world’s worth,

And decide what to do to preserve planet Earth.

Perhaps this disease is her gift in disguise,

To make humans more humane and prevent our demise.

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