In a World

Isn’t it strange
to be in a world,
especially this one?

I’m in the world
with its terrible events
though I never dreamed
there could be plague again
but also waterfalls
that no one ever sees.

You’re in the world
with its beautiful elephants
so you never dreamed
there could be all this anger still
and also people who
almost never dream.

Isn’t it strange
to be human forever,
especially weeping?

J. Kyle Kimberlin
Creative Commons Licensed

‘You are a little soul carrying about a corpse, as Epictetus used to say.’

Marcus Aurelius

Render Unto Caesar

I’m a Christian. I think if churches want to demand exceptionalism and the right to cause a surge in spread of the plague, they can start by helping to pay the costs of community infrastructure and emergency services by paying their full taxes. No exceptions, no exemptions, no deferments. Pay up or shut up. Freedom isn’t free.

I am beyond sick and tired of people and groups yawping about their rights while entirely ignoring their responsibilities.

They’ll know we are Christians by our love, not our community spread, contact tracing, and mortality rate.

Manslaughter on a Biblical Scale

This truth simply needs to be recorded for the sake of history. The tRump cabal will try to erase it.

“Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”

US News:

On March 16, as hospitals braced for a surge of COVID-19 patients, the Trump administration rolled out guidance asking Americans to stay home for work or school and avoid large gatherings in an effort to slow the spread of the virus over 15 days – a timetable that was later extended. Major school systems and many businesses began shutting their doors in mid-March, and statewide stay-at-home orders began taking effect in the days after the Trump administration issued its guidelines.

But the new estimates indicate that if social distancing and restrictions aimed at keeping people apart had been adopted across the country on March 8, 61.6% of cases and 55% of deaths could have been avoided as of May 3. That’s about 704,000 fewer infections and 35,900 fewer lives lost.

If these practices had been implemented even earlier on March 1, about 961,000 infections and 54,000 deaths could have been avoided nationally. In the New York metro area, the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S., about 20,400 lives could have been saved, the study shows.

Donald Trump is liable for wrongful death and guilty of manslaughter of his own people, on a scale that’s been seen rarely throughout the history of humankind. He belongs in prison for the rest of his life. At least.

Peace to be Found

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”
― Marcus Aurelius

If I were admitted to the hospital tomorrow in serious condition with Covid-19, my final lucid thoughts might be this: I have wasted the final 3 years of my short life on Donald Dumfork Trump. Even if you hate him as I do, an obsession is an obsession.

We are victims, not just of corruption and malfeasance, but of the illusion that in all this world, all its nations and continents and seas, there is nothing going but that petty, worthless little man and the plague he helped fester among us. I mean Covid-19, not just the plague of mindless, selfish hate he brought down first.

There is infinitely more to contemplate and I decline to have my entire consciousness hijacked; refuse to have my life defined by or be sacrificed to this sleazy, vulgar sideshow.

There is a difference between being an informed citizen and being the product that media companies sell to advertisers. And even if the constant stream of “news” is telling you the truth, they are still making a profit by keeping you just worried and anxious enough not to look away for long.

The truth is you can look away; take a nice long look at almost anything and everything else in the world, and when you look back at the news again, you won’t have missed a damn discernable thing. Because everything that’s happening has happened before; it’s just history repeating itself.

Stay home. Stay safe. “Wash your damn hands.” Drink your coffee – or whatever wet you have about the house – and read your books. It’s chaos out there, same as it ever was. There is peace to be found and I wish it for you, my friends.

Counting the Dead

No one is talking about the Dead.
We’re just counting them.
Each day there are more and we think
it can’t get any worse, until they don’t
come back. So we keep counting the Dead.

People made memorials for the Dead
of 2001. Their names are etched in stone.
You can read them on the Internet.
At some point they were read aloud.
But that was only 2,600 Dead. .

We mourned. We wept and flew the flag
and vowed revenge. We didn’t understand
that Death is never satisfied.
We should start reading names today.
Too many Dead to carve in stone this time.

But we don’t call the Dead by name
or say what was done with their bodies,
memories, or redeemed of the time
they should have had to wait as days
of quiet life and love pass by.

We who are dying now will learn
the patience of stucco and sunlight
on glass. Some of us refuse.
There is no one they love enough
to sit in a room with their dust and be still.

J. Kyle Kimberlin
Creative Commons Licensed

Same as it ever was

Thoughts on influences of writing and dealing with The Plague.

I got an offline comment recently from someone who said that they don’t follow my blog much anymore because it’s just stuff written by other people. To this I replied they ought to read it, maybe starting with the blog’s description in the right column:

Metaphor is my blog on writing: the art, the life, the culture, the tech, and the inspiration. Plus whatever metaphorically floats my boat, tickles my Elmo, etc.

It doesn’t say my blog of my writing. It says on writing … and the inspiration.

To be sure, the commend wasn’t meant to be hurtful or derogatory. More than anything, it reflects the fact that we’re all drowning in data and it’s become a great challenge to focus and read deeply. That includes me; I often comment on news links posited to social media, based solely on the headline.

Tonight I saw this:

Opinion: “I hope that when both our daughters think back on this time, they’ll remember how many good people worked so hard to keep the world running — often at risk to themselves,” says NPR’s Scott Simon.

I commented: “Maybe they will remember all the people who out of love didn’t put themselves at risk and instead protected their family and community and made a future – and a future generation – possible.” Nice comment. I hope it made it seem like I read the article but I didn’t; I just read just the Facebook post. Time to move on!

But a blog is here for people who are looking for something to read for a few minutes, not a few seconds. And the blogger owes them his/her best efforts to make those minutes worth the investment.

Any blog about writing is essentially a blog about its inspiration, as well as its process and hopefully its product. None of that exists out of context. I read books. I listen to music, watch movies, listen to people, watch life go by. I share it and write about it and comment on it. That’s what writers do. We give attribution – credit where credit is due – and explore what if anything the inspiration brings.

If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.

Carl Sagan

Besides, it looks to me like at least 80% of what’s here is 100% written by me. My poems are shared here when I think they’re worth sharing

Speaking of watching life go by, we’re in Day 36 of quarantine here in California. I asked myself in my journal whether today feels like my real normal life, within the terms of quarantine. My first answer was No. It still feels like my real life got put on pause 5 weeks ago. This feels like life in suspended animation. It feels like we’re not free to get on with Life on Life’s Terms.

For example, I can’t pack a bag, gas up the car, and head off to visit my brother. Not only would that be two separate quarantines commingling. I would have to stop along with way – it’s over 400 miles – and risk infection. Not good. No going. I love my brother and my family.

I realize that my first response to the question is wrong. This is my life today. This is precisely Life on Life’s Terms. I’m just not psychologically acclimated yet. I’m still getting my footing in a situation that’s like crossing a dangerous stream of Time on a mossy, wobbly log. Watch your step there, Scouts!

This is the way it is right now. For some reason, the universe has inflicted us with a time of plague and we can’t change that. Until November, we can’t change the fact that the people tasked with providing common solutions and help on the national macro level are corrupt failures. But we can decide how we’re going to react to it all. And if we’re not to be among the selfish and addle-minded herd, we have to do the right and loving thing and effing deal with those terms life is setting for us. Stay Home. Stay Safe. For the Love of God and Everybody, Stay Apart.

Yeah, I’m saying that the people who are protesting orders to keep businesses closed and stay safe at home are committing acts of incredible selfishness; the moral treason of carelessness; not in any way love for their fellow humans. It’s not hate, it’s ignorant indifference. And as we’ve been taught by Elie Wiesel, the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference.

That’s what I think, and the thoughts are mine and were written by me. [OK, I’m being a little hard on the person who gave me that comment. I’m just hoping if they read the blog again, they’ll actually read the blog this time.] When you read something someone else has written you’re giving the gift of your time. Writers and other artists should never take the gift of time and attention lightly. I am grateful always.

____________________________________

Now with apologies to The Talking Heads, here’s something paraphrased.

You may find yourself
living in a quarantine.
And you may ask yourself
how did I get here?
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful life.

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down.

Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Letting the days go by
Same as it ever was

Shelter

In the distance, someone beats
a great drum, coming nearer every day.
This old rhythm we don’t recognize,
the days of plague. Those who do not
learn from history are doomed.
Like birds driven earthward to shelter
under bushes by a storm, we wait
for abstract entities to pass.
Son of man, you cannot say or guess
how long. The clock reminds us,
drumming down the hours like high
surf pounding on the rocks.

I have lived in this room for years,
beneath its stucco laqueraria devoid
of cherubim or even birds.
The days called me out into the warm
sea air, to see the intimation of islands
beyond the eucalypti and the bluffs.
Now the invitation is withdrawn;
at least obscured, contingent
on a tolerance of sorrows.
I had not thought the sweet breeze
would rise and bring such sounds
of the inevitable world.

J. Kyle Kimberlin
Creative Commons Licensed

Waves of the Same Sea

I will write in my journal that today was not a good day. It began with news of a surge in diagnoses and deaths from covid-19 in New York and ended with the governor’s order that Californians must stay home. This is going to be bad before it gets better, but that implies hope.

Such days bring fear up from the belly into the eyes and ears and leave great deposits of fear, like shoals of obsidian sand, in the sheltered harbors of the heart. But in the hours in between, I was offered a vista of high clouds following recent rain, and of the blue Pacific.

There was also this: On many cartons of medical supplies donated by a Chinese company to the people of Italy were written words of the 1st century Roman philosopher Seneca.

“We are waves of the same sea, leaves of the same tree, flowers of the same garden”

Together

“To bear in mind constantly that all of this has happened before. And will happen again—the same plot from beginning to end, the identical staging. Produce them in your mind, as you know them from experience or from history: the court of Hadrian, of Antoninus. The courts of Philip, Alexander, Croesus. All just the same. Only the people are different.”

– Marcus Aurelius, concerning the Antonine Plague in the second century AD.

It is the different people that’s the issue, though, isn’t it? Because certainly this is not the end of the world or the end of humanity. The Antonine Plague killed between 10 and 18 million people, at a time when the population of the world was about 125 million. Today there are 7.6 billion. Most of us will survive. Will I be one of them? Will you, or your older or more vulnerable loved ones? 

Aurelius was Roman emperor and in the past day there have been over 475 deaths in Italy alone. In the past few days, the rate of infections and deaths has spiked worldwide. This was predicted. Now we’re afraid. What can we do? 

I’m a typical introvert; at least, a little more toward that end of the spectrum. Not much for larger groups and crowds, generally. You’ll never hear me say, “Let’s go to Vegas, Baby!” But one thing I know about myself is that, as much as I normally expend energy around other people and recharge in solitude, in times of crisis I like to be with others. I feel the urge to be together and work together. When the Thomas Fire came, and then the mudslide and the outages and road closures, I drew strength from others. It was like my introvert poles temporarily switched. Now, frankly, I would like hugs.I would like to be able to hug my friends and neighbors, shake hands with strangers. A Grateful Dead show would be awesome. And I’m looking forward to that future, someday. In the meantime, we have to find other ways to be kind and love each other, and take care of each other so we can live on, to the bright morning of once-again hugs.  

So how do we get through this? Together, apart. We have to stay apart to do this together. John Green said this so beautifully on YouTube last night, and I’ll like that below. 

Whoever you are, I love you. From here at my desk, alone in my condo on the west coast of California, please know that. And I would embrace you if I could. We have to get through this together. If you have one of those who thinks your separation doesn’t matter, or that anyone can afford to be defiant in the face of this disease, please rethink. Please be kind. You don’t want to kill your parents or grandparents. Get away from other people to break the chain of infection. Please be kind to each other. Do the hard things, the brave things, the loving things and remember

THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives might be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry