GUEST POST // The cat who loved ABBA by Graeme Sandford

ABBA, the cat, who loved,
never knew about punctuation,
or the proper use of colons and commas;
but, she didn’t have to,
it wasn’t important in the scheme of things –
unlike tummy rubs
and wriggling strings.

by GRAEME SANDFORD
© All rights reserved 2021

GUEST POST // on the cusp of an unknown by trE

“they say” Elsa is on the way;
ready ourselves for the inevitability
of thunderstorms
yet the sun is skydiving
without a care in the world and
I’m growing skeptical.

I want to be prepared;
steer clear of windows and
shut down all electronic devices
in a timely manner;
I can’t help it–every time there’s
a storm, I hear my mother’s voice;
“Turn off those lights and
that damn tv! God is talking!”

shouldn’t I be mindful if
in fact, God IS speaking?

meteorologists are tapping their
pointers at markers on their
maps, unsure of exact touchdown
points yet “We should be on the
lookout” for damaging winds
and heavy rain
and every year, during
hurricane season, my anxiety
levels are heightened.

there’s a new storm named
ever other day, it seems . . .
why does the ocean argue
with the sky?
who is monitoring its raised voice
or defending the shores
and the pleading animals?

Elsa may show up with
a pent-up wrath buried inside
her and I say, “let it rip but
just have mercy.”
the souls of man
could use a cleansing.

by TRE
© All rights reserved 2021

GUEST POST // Interrupted by Kenneth P. Gurney

Paul threw a knife.
It bounded off an aspen tree.

The blade vibrated as if it thudded into the trunk
and the remaining energy wiggled off.

The vibration created an audible sound.
Similar to seventeen year cicadas.

Paul turned his back to the vibrating knife
feeling a sneeze coming on.

His sneeze thundered through the aspen grove.
It displaced the slender trees a few millimeters.

Surface bracken puffed up into the air.
Maybe an inch. Dust lingered at ankle height.

The sneeze rolled the knife over.
It ceased vibrating and played dead.

Paul kept his eyes closed after the sneeze
and stood up straight.

The sun shone directly on his face
and whispered Gesundheit.

by KENNET P. GURNEY
© All rights reserved 2021

GUEST POST // An Octogenarian’s Pandemic by Barrie Purnell

There’s been some sort of epidemic
So say all-knowing academics,
A kind of dread Chinese infection
Designed to avoid early detection,
Resulting in oxygen deprivation
For which there was no known protection.
The government and the NHS
Said, what to do we can only guess
But until we can make up our minds
You must avoid contact of any kind,
Wash your hands 10 times a day
Put your going out clothes away,
And for restrictions we’ll atone
By paying you to stay at home.
Said if lockdown we don’t apply
Half a million would surely die,
But something they didn’t say
Was all of us would have to pay,
All the costs of shutting down
To the tune of 300 billion pound.
I have to think they’ve lost their mind
Paying ½ billion to save a life like mine.

On the news the professor reported
We’d all go mad before it was sorted,
But when I had the time to reflect
Saw on me it would have little effect.
I was allowed to form a bubble
With neighbour who said, it was no trouble
To do a supermarket shop for me
Of fresh food, bread, milk and tea,
And I booked an on-line delivery
Which hitherto had been a mystery.
My hour long visits to numerous clinics
Were now phone calls over in minutes,
And no waiting in a doctors surgery
With ill people sitting next to me,
Covering me in their coughs and sneezes
Spreading their as yet unknown diseases,
And oh what joy when they disclosed
All the dentists would be closed.
No visits from that demanding relation
Requiring clean sheets on each occasion.
My expenditure had been decreased,
From hugging I had been released,
No longer was I considered rude
When I indulged my love of solitude.
I don’t spend weekends in hotels
Or holiday in the Seychelles,
I have nobody to look after
I have no fear of the hereafter.
I thought now I will have the time
To watch programmes on Amazon Prime,
Then there was Netflix and Catch-Up TV
Opportunities spread out endlessly.
The prospect of gardening reared its head
Or I could do DIY instead.
Then there were all those books to read
Which would increase my reading speed,
And when these became less exciting
I could always try to do some writing.

But as months ran into longer time
I missed the freedom once was mine,
I missed the human interaction
Leading to increasing dissatisfaction.
I wondered if this imposed ban
Affected this old solitary man,
Someone long past his prime
Already living on borrowed time,
How much harder would it have been
If I had been just seventeen?
And here I had to face the truth,
We chose to sacrifice our youth,
They lost out on jobs and education,
On teenage fun and socialization.
My few remaining years protected
By youth, who even if they were infected,
Would avoid serious complication
And wouldn’t require hospitalisation,
But who’d be paying back for many years
The billions spent to keep our conscience clear.
So we mortgaged millions of young lives
To try and help the old survive.
Was this right, we don’t know yet
Or something the country will regret?
Maybe result would have been the same
If they’d just locked up the old and lame,
And supplied any help they needed
Until search for vaccine had succeeded.
Having lived through rationing and the blitz.
The old could surely have survived this?

Each year 600000 deaths are seen
From causes other than COVID 19,
For every 1 that from COVID died
Cancer and heart disease killed 5.
Now on the news a man of 99
Is said to have died before his time!!
What’s new is that now each day,
Presented in graphical display,
Death is there for all of us to see
We’re confronted by our own mortality.
Everyday more of the same
Until we look for someone to blame
For the extra deaths of an aged few,
As if death was something new,
When we have been able to ignore
The millions who have died before.
Only when that eulogy is read
Over the special one we’ve loved who’s dead,
Do we realise death is always with us
Even if it’s something we don’t discuss.
As mortals why do we believe
From death we alone could be reprieved?
Heart attack, cancer or suicide,
Broken heart or homicide,
Immortality is our minds biggest lie
COVID ………just another way to die.

by BARRIE PURNELL
© All rights reserved 2021