The Pandemic Avoider’s Guide to Caution

I started out smug. Coronavirus can’t get me, I don’t associate with people all that much. My faithful muse smacked me on the back of the head. Fool, said she.

I’m not as introverted as I think. 

Being in the high risk group makes me very cautious. Even my other half worries about bringing something home. But there is another problem. Besides having no baseball to distract me. 

I work with the public. And the higher-ups show no sign of letting us do much work by phone or Internet. A lot can be done that way. We have hand sanitizer on desks and by phones. We’re as careful as we can be, but wiping down computers and phones and desks with Clorox does nothing about the people that come in sniffling and sneezing. We hand them masks. They hand us paperwork from their germy hands. I’m tempted to spray it down with Lysol, but doing it in front of them is a bridge I haven’t crossed. Yet. Pens, packages, the door handles. I wash my hands once an hour. Is that enough? More soap? Lye?

My other half goes to the grocery store for us. Wiping down the cart handles is fine, but what about the can someone took off the shelf and then put back? Things that are exchanged and replaced? Will flour ever be back in stock? How many meals can one make with hamburger? This is the time hoarding tendencies come in handy. Plenty of food in the freezer, art supplies, and yarn to knit. But limited TP and hand sanitizer. Rinsing hands in vodka seems excessive. At the moment. Better put to use with orange juice.

Everything that can be closed, is closed. I get gas with gloves on. The gym is closed now. I’m hoping stretches and dumbbells at home will do for the time being. My dog is too old to walk, but my neighborhood is empty for me to roam the road. We walkers wave at each other from opposite sides of the street. Advantages of living out of town.

How much avoidance is acceptable? How much further does an introvert have to go to be safe? Is there no safe place? Probably not. Unless you want to disconnect entirely from the public and live like a hermit. Even then, if your groceries get delivered, who handled them? There’s no winning. I’ve gone with sanitizer, wipes, and avoiding gatherings, but even introverts need human contact more than they think. On the plus side, I have lots of time to edit the novel, read, and create new poetry. 

All we can do is our best. Don’t let the possibilities overwhelm you. Watch Netflix or Prime or the Weather Channel. (Highway Thru Hell is my guilty pleasure.) Quit picking your nose. Try not to run screaming when someone around you coughs. Take precautions, but don’t wear a HazMat suit. Yet. Introvert, but don’t let it consume you.

In the words of Sergeant Phil Esterhaus, “Let’s be careful out there.”

Why I Don’t Write Political Poetry

Arguing sheep

Sometimes I think too much. That is my main excuse for not writing political poetry. I’m an after thinker. I’m non-confrontational. By the time I’ve absorbed the daily news cycle and thought about its background and implications, weeks have passed. 

I’m not timely.  

In today’s fast-moving poetic world some people can write a poem on the current news by the end of the day. I envy that. Of course, some are well versed in politics and can fire out opinions with a brain full of background on the issue. As a sporadic reader of news, I can’t make the leap between today’s story and one that came out two weeks ago. It all seems the same to me. Dumpster fires, train wrecks, and slow-motion car crashes abound, cleverly disguised as news.

The current hype of the day is easily missed when you don’t watch television or get the daily paper. 

Read All About It.

I scan headlines, maybe read the first paragraph. I get the gist that way if the writer is any good at all. How do you turn gist into a poem? Maybe a mashup of gists in one rage-fueled epic?

Continual outrage is tiring. Reading the news makes me outraged. Politics as usual, makes me outraged. I can’t write on a diet of calculated fury. Some poets can channel their wrath into biting poems addressing the issue of the day. 

I don’t think I received that poetry gene. 

Maybe it’s because poetry is my safe space to explore more leisurely issues. To wax philosophical about things of importance to me. To hide in my blanket fort. 

With the way things are going today, I want to come out of my shell and sling some of the smoldering indignation into a poem. But I’m not sure how. Snarling and gnashed teeth poetry is not my favorite and I can’t see writing it. I leave that to those who are good at it, and there are some very good poets out there demanding we look at the issues. With the way things are going today, I need to express my discomfort and fears. Poetry is the vehicle for that. 

Learning to Spew

What am I afraid of? Spilling my guts in a blood-soaked mess on the page. But maybe, just maybe, I need to confront my writing (writhing) nest of guts. Scribble it out. There is no poetry police. I don’t have to show my work to anyone if I don’t want to. 

So I have a notebook just for gut spilling. Politics. Things that piss me off to the point of apoplexy. Sentences with more four-letter words than a sentence can carry. And you know what? It’s a good feeling to put the pen to paper and spew. Sometimes in magic marker. I highly recommend it. 

You probably won’t see many, if any political poems from me. Don’t think I don’t care. I care too much. My notebook knows all about it. For those of you that tackle political poetry, kudos. I’ll be reading. 

Do you write political poetry? How do you handle the red hot topics? If you don’t write it, do you want to? Should we be tacking it to telephone poles on hot pink paper?


(Thank you, 60’s Batman, for the onomatopoeia.)

Why does the answer to everything seem to be violence?

Books, movies, real life. Blood, gore, guns. Maybe I’m too much a wuss for this. I don’t believe every problem needs to be solved by punching, shooting, blowing up, or some form of superhero power liberally applied. 

It’s inescapable. In my first fantasy novel, I gave one of the heroes a sword. He refused to use it again after seeing the aftermath of his warmongering. He gave it away. In my new WIP, one of the protagonists refuses to carry a gun, although almost everyone in his world does. He knows his refusal will not change a damn thing but it aligns with his values.  Which probably align with mine, since every character, at its core, is me or evil me or pissed off me or head in the sand me.

The Folly of Youth

When I was younger and in the Army as an engineer, I took great glee in blowing up things like bridges, tossing hand grenades with abandon, and shooting my rifle at targets, never connecting that if I went to war, I would be required to apply these methods to people.

Then I learned to use words. Words are molasses poured over the violence urge, or gasoline tossed on the pyre. Used judiciously they support and defend. Used viciously, they flay. I do believe they have power over the sword if only to blunt the edge. Unfortunately, people are moving away from the written word, the spoken word, the lovingly crafted word toward a society of shouty words and half-baked memes standing in for a thoughtful conversation.

That’s a shame. 

All you poets and writers keep on doing what you do. Society needs you now, more than ever. Fight the good fight. Maybe it’s your words that will change the world for the better, or at least plant a seed. 

The Kindle Dilemma

My bookshelves are crowded. Really crowded. They have been for years so when Kindle became a thing, I got one. It didn’t stop me from buying books. I just became more judicious about my paper choices. Most non-fiction is a hardcopy purchase. Almost all fiction is a Kindle purchase, unless I know I’m going to reread it over and over, like LOTR and Dune. Poetry is hardcopy because poetry often doesn’t transfer well to Kindle. When I formatted Piccola Poesie for Kindle, I spent an inordinate amount of time making sure the poems looked right in the electronic version.

Kindle has become my bookshelf in more ways than one. Now I have so many books on it I can’t find things if I want to reread them. It doesn’t happen often. Usually, I read then delete off the Kindle to save space. It stays on my Amazon account if I need to download it again. By the last check, I have over 900 books available in my account for my Kindle. Gulp. Then I went and signed up for Kindle Unlimited so I have even more books to choose from. I may have a problem.

Can You See Me Now?

I know people practically get in fistfights over paper vs. electronic. I like both. I read a lot more on the Kindle than I do paper. It’s hell to get old and not be able to read the tiny print in a paperback very easily. My appearances at used book stores have dwindled because of that. On the electronic reader, I can up the type for my crappy old eyes.

Another advantage is when I put the Kindle app on my iPad and phone I can have my book available almost anytime, anywhere. It helps me read a lot. 2-4 books a week (fiction). It’s not as many as it sounds, I also read really fast and always have. I read at dinner. Read at lunch. I read in downtime waiting for appointments. Books are easier to do that with than knitting, although I have been known to carry an in-progress sock around to kill time when I have to think about MY writing.

I recently swiped my way back through the Kindle carousel. And swiped, and swiped. There are a lot of partially read books on there. 37%, 52%, some even abandoned at the 89% mark. I buy books and I download a lot of free books. I quit worrying about it and if the book doesn’t live up to my expectations of a good story, I abandon it. Even at 89%. If it’s lost my interest, it’s lost my interest.

My biggest pet peeve is the character, told not to do something, immediately does what she was told not to do. Surely there is a better way to move your plot forward? Willful stupidity makes me toss the book. Used to be when I bought a physical book I felt obligated to see it through to the end. That feeling is going away.


Time is short. Not just because of the workday but because life itself is careening to a close. (Damn birthdays for making me feel that.) So much to read and enjoy. The mountain of books getting published every year is daunting. But I’m doing my best to make a dent in the To Be Read pile. If it topples over and buries me (physically or electronically) I’ll die happy.

How do you tackle your reading material? Physical, electronic, cuneiform?

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