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Menacing Times: Poem #7


Surprisingly, I am past the paralyzing fear. Now redirecting the anger. I am not so overwhelmed to the point of helplessness. My mind is calm, though the heart aches in mourning for those who have suffered and are suffering in this COVID-19 pandemic. My muse caresses my thoughts as it urges me to speak about these menacing times we face today. This poem is courtesy of my muse, an unexpected guest since February, a muse that has definitely  overstayed one's welcome.

My Masked Self at Breakfast When Someone Coughed. ©James Sobredo


These are not ordinary times.
The clock points somewhere at the edge of calm
Tiptoeing on a tightrope approaching
The brink of a hazardous curve
In a terrain unfamiliar, a mindless slip
Could mean the end.

How does one travel
Through a time in history to glean
A few lessons in confronting
An enemy with no face
Except under a microscope
Recognizable only to a trained few?

The enemy might not know it is the enemy.
But the enemy has a name, shamelessly posing
As if an undercover or a spy like 007.
But real, unlike the fictional James Bond.
It is the present-day public enemy Number One.
It has infiltrated nooks and
Crannies of the globe from Asia, Africa,
Across Europe, the Americas
And elsewhere, indifferent
To consequent harms it inflicts
On its path. It burdens, wrecks despair
And leaves no safe haven to hide
Or protect the self and those we love.

I’ll take the fictional 007 any time, any day.
This COVID-19, by the way that’s
The not-so-secret agent’s name, has claimed
Many in its wake, mutating not
Unlike a shape shifter.
But this mutating agent is a ghost,
And unlike SARS, its predecessor,
It has now infected more and
Re-infected; and cunningly made fools
Of pretentious heads of states who are science-averse
Or those who pretend to lead us
In battles against an invisible, but potently
Diabolical enemy that threatens all.

Don’t be misled by the calm.
The aura of menace is around the corner
Growing in leaps and bounds
By the hour, by the day, by each
Report of how many more countries
Have fallen hostage, paralyzed
In the enemy’s grip.

In its wake, how does one find the balance
Between erring on the side of caution
and paralyzing fear?
How does one keep from feeling threatened?

This ominous invader disrupts the ordinary,
Silences once-bustling cities, imprisons
The unsuspecting and victimizes
The most vulnerable if vigilance fails.

The threat so real that the Vatican
Handcuffed, cancels Holy Week and Easter's public events.
Are we living the ultimate fate of Lent?
The unintended sacrifice the guardians
Of the universe callously chose
Not to see coming. Never mind, that all the evidence
Of inhumanity, injustice, indignities scream
At our faces. Yet those in positions of influence turn
The other cheek, stay ignorant insulated
In its pathetic self, hiding
Behind titles and self-aggrandizing
Accolades and false narratives.

Must ultimate sacrifices continue to mount
In numbers to appease invaders,
Appease cults' imposter gods?
Before all of humanity permanently fall asleep.

When news of suffering in far-away lands
In the hands of the invisible invaders
Reach us. I hope we pray
And not respond any other way,
Like in Act 1, Scene 1 of
Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar
When Marullus addressed
The Commoners whom he called
The hard hearts of Rome:

“And do you now cull out a holiday?
And do you now strew flowers in his way
That comes in triumph over Pompey's blood?”

I should think not. Instead we must do
All we can to keep our distance, wash
Our hands, cover our faces and

Run to your houses, fall upon your knees and
Pray to the gods to intermit the plague
That needs must light on this ingratitude.”

Because today, it is not Pompey’s blood.
It might be ours, all of ours. 

Elizabethan Era thespians are not staging this play
Insecure nations are not flexing muscles in war games.
This is not the seasonal cold. And for all of our safety's sake,
Please, do not call it the flu. It is far different.
This virulent virus is at our doorsteps. 
It is real. This COVID-19.
The menace of our time.

Be very conscientious of habits. Be vigilant.
The virus has gone global. Markets tumbling, that’s
More global than we care to accept.
We quarantine people. But we cannot
So easily manipulate, isolate
Economies or viruses.
So, stop sleepwalking, deluding ourselves
Or be deluded by propaganda.
Whether we like it or not, we are interconnected,
Our lifelines intertwined.
We are our sisters’ keeper; our brothers’ keeper.
The unintended consequences have begun
A chain reaction that could care less
About what gods we worship,
Or if we worship at all,
Or what skin wraps our soul.
The menace exists. Each one of us potentially
At risk. Some more than others.
Each and every human being
Must take responsibility now
For humanity’s sake.

These are not ordinary times.
We are somewhere at the edge of calm
Tiptoeing on a tightrope approaching
The brink of a hazardous curve
In a terrain unfamiliar,
And a mindless slip could mean
The end.

So be mindful. Be vigilant.
Whether we think it or not,
It is past the time,
Time to wake up!

Poem ©Lu Sobredo
Photo ©James Sobredo

About the Author 
Lu Sobredo is writer/publisher at Lu Travels Abroad, a blog dedicated to folks whose limitations do not hamper them from traveling. A year into early retirement her world collapsed from the diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Her total life changed, but she did not let RA define her. With love from family, friends and an awesome doctor, she regained some functionality--her new normal. She will have RA all her life. And she now writes about life and travel with RA. During the pandemic of 2020, she stays put and writes poetry and a first novel, a travel of sorts but in the heart and mind.


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