Caution still loomed in the back of my mind even though I took about a month off from writing poetry in response to the coronavirus pandemic. My life’s demands took priority because I self-published a book I had been working on for two and a half years, it neared completion. The final requirements side-tracked me, but I returned to my poetic view of my experience of the pandemic and what was going on at the time with caution still being a main concern!
During my poetic slowdown, the coronavirus pandemic continued. People tired of the shelter-in-place restrictions. Michigan exploded with protests against the restrictions set in place by governor Gretchen Whitmer.
On April 15, 2020, USA Today’s headlines were, “Thousands converge to protest Michigan governor’s stay-home order in ‘Operation Gridlock’.” Thousands of cars equipped with bull horns and protest flags stymied traffic around the capitol.
On April 30, 2020, Fox News headlines stated, “Michigan protesters storm state Capitol in fight over coronavirus rules: ‘Men with rifles yelling at us’.” The media shared pictures (I will not show) of protesters on the capitol’s steps with assault weapons and rifles—no masks and social distancing and guns!
One photo seared into my memory was a lineup of six masked protesters inside the capitol with a variety of rifles and assault rifles standing in front of a door—what an eerie feeling that picture conjured up! Why the rifles?
The Guardians headlines said, “Armed protesters demonstrate against Covid-19 lockdown at Michigan capitol.” It sited a picture of a brazen mask-less protester screaming inches away from the policeman standing guard, doing his job!
After a couple weeks of mulling over these images and these stories, I wrote the following poems:
The Wait for What? May 13, 2020 Since March 9 I self-quarantined For two weeks I stayed put! Then it stretched To May 15! March April Half of May Drastic Maybe Wise and cautious For sure I obey I wear a mask I adhere to six feet In social distance I apply hand sanitizer After each necessary outing! Yet the battle rages Some say it’s a hoax Protest Violate the restrictions In the name of the first amendment Free exercise of religion Freedom of speech Freedom of the press Right to peaceably assemble The right to petition the government For redress of grievances. In the name of the second amendment A well-regulated militia, being necessary To the security of a free State, The right of the people to keep And bear arms shall not be Infringed. The right to bear arms because of the coronavirus? Really? Can you shoot this enemy? A minuscule virus particle Why guns? Why assault weapons? A AT4 rocket launcher? Why Confederate flags? Swastikas? As this continues, Confusion mounts! As the unrest continues, My confusion soars, too! A virus Killing thousands Demands denial and protests? Why do you deny it? Ill-advised? Ignorant? Stupidity? Why do you clamor About socialism And your rights? Selfish Self-centered ME, Me, me! What about compassion? Caring for others? It’s not about you, you, you! The wait for normalcy logic and compassion to surface may be a long time in coming! For some! For others it never left!
I Disagree! I Have That Right, But Can We Talk? May 15, 2020 I want caution You throw caution To the wind! I want safety Six feet apart My mask My gloves You brandish your rights Invade my space Bare faced Bare hands Smug in your beliefs! Absolutely two world views Mine conservative Yours liberal Mine concerned About me And you Yours driven About you Only! Can we talk? Is there someplace To agree? Or Are times of agreement Gone? Will you honor me With a mask and gloves Not judge me Not invade my space With my vulnerable spirit? Will I honor you? Maskless Belligerent Defiant Here's the problem I don’t understand Your recklessness! Why? Explain your reasons For your actions Or Lack? I need assurance This is life or death! My life My death Therefore I’ll follow my convictions I have that right You follow yours You have that right too Hopefully We’ll both Make it through! But I still disagree!
Over a month later and the argument over masks, social distancing and caution continues as the case numbers surge, and I still don’t understand!
I still don’t understand!
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~Whitey & Gladys Puerling, playful friends of Flippo’s, created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/