Sunday, May 31, 2020

In Desperate Search of God's Grace

There is a great smoldering anger that the unending battle for civil rights remains a war against unrelenting uncivil wrongs. That the presidency of Barack Obama was but a mirage. That the death of Mr. Floyd was a statement of our most fundamental principle that all people are not created equal. That the less things change the more things remain immutably an integral part of the American landscape. That we as a nation are steeped in a prejudice which endures nearly 250 years after our birth just as virulent and omnipresent as it was from the first. That this disease is wholly resistant to the antidote of mercy and compassion.

 And sometimes there is a moment that serves as catalyst for a conflagration. An incident that appears to demand a huge fire in response to this country's enduring legacy of hatred. That words prove insufficient ammunition. That physical destruction is the only adequate means of expression, the only true retort to such pervasive evil. Contemplation in the moment of whether such action is, in the final analysis, appropriate seemingly fully subsumed by the belief that it is necessary.

So from sea to not so shining sea, we burn. America the not so beautiful. In desperate search of God's grace.

Friday, May 29, 2020

My Clothes

I wonder if my clothes are lonely. Or scared.

I left my apartment the third week of March and have resided over 100 miles away ever since. I did not leave a note for my clothes saying I was uncertain when I would be returning. I did not give them reassurance that they would not be forgotten in my absence. I did not remind them how important they are to me.

Actually I am mostly talking about the clothes I wear in warmer weather. I did not consider in my hasty exit that I would remain away from my clothes for such a long time. Thus, my shorts and tee shirts were not even in my contemplation as I bid what I thought would be a relatively brief adieu.

But now that the temperatures have finally climbed, those clothes must be wondering what happened. Did I get sick? Did I have another closet filled with other clothes that they knew nothing about? Had I been in a fight with my wife and just moved away? I wonder if they are worried about me.

Or maybe they are happy for the break. I tend to wear clothes far past what should be their expiration. Much of what now sits idle in my closet has been called to duty for many more years than it could ever have imagined. Maybe these clothes welcome my absence, finding me more of a burden than a benefit in their lives.

My mother in law lives in the same building that I left. I am considering asking her to go visit my clothes. That she gently explain to them what is happening. That she assure them they have not been cast aside. That she let them know that I will be back as soon as I can.

I may even ask her to put together a care package from my closet and ship the same, while I wait in breathless anticipation. But maybe that is not such a good idea. Maybe it is best to let my clothes rest a little longer. Maybe they will be nervous if a stranger gathers them up and boxes them. Maybe this will cause them fear and uncertainty.

Better to let them be. Hopefully I will be able to return in time to wear some of my lighter clothes before the chill of fall is in the air. And that it will be a reunion filled with hugs and joy, with stories of unexpected absences, with grateful smiles, with unbridled enthusiasm for old friends once more together.

Until then I will just say a little prayer for my clothes, wishing them continued good health, peace and contentment. You have not been abandoned. You are forever in my thoughts.

To my black tee shirt: you have always been my favorite.

To my khaki shorts: I miss you a lot.

To all my pants: I have been trying to get in shape since I last saw you and I think next time we are together I may not have to suck in my stomach to put you on. I hope you will be proud of me.

I am coming back to you. I promise.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020


"Agua" she says."Agua please." She is 20 months old and agua is the one word in Spanish she uses regularly. She learned it from the little girl downstairs, the one whose door she knocks on every day, the one she hugs so tightly every time they are together. She doesn't know it yet but that little girl is moving away tomorrow. And when she next goes "knock, knock" on that door, the face of her first best friend, the one she adores, will not be there in response. I only hope she always recalls who taught her to say "agua."

Monday, May 25, 2020

Joe Biden Is Irrelevant

("Joe Biden Places Wreath at Veteran's Memorial in Delaware")

Joe Biden is irrelevant.

This election will pit Trump vs Trump. Donald Trump, depending on your point of view is either:
a) The answer to "What's Wrong with America?"
b)  The answer to what's wrong with America!!

For anyone who has resided in this country from January, 2017 until today and been able to take sustenance during that period, it is virtually impossible not to have drawn a firm conclusion about the pros and cons of this man who clearly appears to be a pro at being a con.

And so, yes we worry that Joe Biden may have a bit of foot in mouth disease, that sometimes it appears that his best days may be in the rearview mirror. But really, really does anything that Mr. Biden may speak or misspeak between now and November of this year make a hill of beans difference in whether or not you believe Donald Trump deserves his seat on the throne for another four years?

Will anyone be going into that voting booth (if Mr. Trump had his way that would be the only way) agonizing over Mr. Biden's record, or his Vice Presidential selection? Raise your hand if that will be your overriding concern. I only see two raised hands in all of America and honestly Mr. Trump, neither you nor Mitch McConnell should be able to participate in this poll.

Joe Biden, rest until November and save your strength. For if you are elected as our next President there will be an enormous task laid at your feet. After four years of Donald Trump the existential question you will have to answer is how to make America great again.

Sunday, May 24, 2020


Imagine 100,000
Faces of the dead
No help from Donald 
Dow dancing in his head
Imagine all the people not alive today

Imagine no Corona
Spread across our land
No pain or suffering
If we had better planned
Imagine all the people still alive today

You may say stop dreaming 
What's been done is done
But I think of all the heartache
Of grieving daughters and anguished sons

Imagine there's no heaven
For those who are no more
100,000 lost souls
No matter rich or poor
Imagine its your momma not alive today

You may not have felt the 
You may be a lucky one
But just know that tomorrow
There will be 100,001

Imagine 100,000
Faces of the dead
No help from Donald 
Dow dancing in his head
Imagine all the people not alive today

Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Stone Quarry

They stood likely 50 feet above the water at the edge of this stone quarry. And for those that gave me a glancing thought, those that looked in the direction of the old guy with the bandana pulled up over his mouth and nose, they must have thought I was being somewhat ridiculous.

There were probably 20 or so, teenagers I would guess, maybe blowing off some steam after the months of isolation, maybe celebrating their graduation, likely both. The rules of social distancing as distant from this place and their minds as I am from you who are reading this now. This was the start of Memorial Day weekend and the joy in that thought was not about to be taken from their lives, pandemic or not.

The first of the four, standing in their own little pod, turned his back to his destination and then hurtled off the cliff, flipping as he turned through the air,  landing perfectly and with seemingly little effort in the 80 foot deep water that  awaited his arrival. The others followed, seriatim, although in more conventional jumping fashion.

The decibel of the conversation here that of youngsters with various substances coursing through their systems, the adrenaline of this place, the warm late spring morning, the blue skies all joining forces to create an unbridled sense of freedom from the restrictions the world would superimpose upon them. It was impossible to distinguish this moment from any other that had occurred on this weekend in the past in very different times.

For my family, this gaggle proved a slight inconvenience as they inhabited all those spaces where we would otherwise have been perched. The quarry, for us on this day, but something we could view from obscure angles. Its majesty known to us but partially muted by the sights and sounds of life before Covid 19.

For those like me who continue to fear that this disease has not been informed that its time has passed,  I believe we will soon be made to feel outliers, uncomfortable in our concern. That this nation is more than ready to cast off the shackles. That those that continue to remain in the shadows are merely obstacles and we should step aside. Or be run over.

On Facebook one of my friends posted a short video of an open restaurant at a dock, people congregating in their boats and life apparently receiving a green light to resume.

I get it. I know this nightmare has attached to us with a death grip, unshakeable and unending. And that the toll on this nation's collective psyche has been enormous. But I cannot agree that our fatigue, our unhappiness allows us the liberty to ignore reality. 

I read of the number of new cases reported every day around this nation. And while figures seem but abstractions and we all would wish to conclude the illness has moved on and taken up residence elsewhere it has not.

These are dangerous times. We are all standing on the edge of that cliff, ready to dive into cool waters, deep and refreshing. But if we choose wrongly, when we throw ourselves downward we will find not welcoming arms at the end of our journey but a dry hole. And if that happens, the sounds of happiness will be gone in an instant.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

March 4, 2020 - 8:55 AM

March 4, 2020 - 8:55 AM

We thought the Social Security office opened at 9 AM but we were mistaken. As my wife, son and I entered the room it was already filled. There were likely 75 people in here. Within a few minutes, they would start lining up in the hallway. It was on that day that the first case of Covid 19 was reported in my home state of New Jersey.

My wife and I could have applied for our benefits by phone but it might have taken a month or more to get that appointment, we were ready to proceed and our day was open.

As we would soon learn, we were both in the cohort that was the most vulnerable to the ravages of this illness. And our son should never have been accompanying us, especially in his role of merely providing moral support.

I remember being slightly concerned in that room, listening for a cough or sneeze. But no one was social distancing, it was not even a concept yet, and I can recall only one couple who were wearing masks. There were a few children, a pregnant woman or two and many older than my wife and myself. All crowded in, all possible carriers. None of us with but the vaguest notion of what we were facing.

We sat there for four and a half hours before our number was called and our request addressed. I can only estimate that there were conservatively well over a hundred people that I was in far too close proximity with during that time.

I think about that often, but particularly in light of today's story in the New York Times which reported that an estimated 85% of all Coronavirus deaths in this country could have been avoided if preventive measures had been put in effect on March 1 instead of March 15. And that, on the first day of that month, while there had been one reported case in NYC, there were probably actually more than 10,000 people infected.

I will never know if anyone sitting in that room had already contracted the illness.  If it passed through that place, if someone in the chair next to me fell ill in the days that followed.

It was just serendipity that on March 4, 2020 three of us were able to spend the hours between 9 AM and 1:30 PM in the office of Social Security without repercussion.

And it is chilling to contemplate that if our government had reacted more quickly and forcefully the above scene would never have occurred. And maybe, just maybe, someone in that room would not have gotten sick. Or died.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

The Longest Night

Fictional account of real events transpiring across the globe (sung to the tune of Tossin' and Turnin') - My heart goes out to each and every one who has suffered

I couldn't sleep at all last night
Oh this wasn't just a flu
My chest was oh so tight
Cause it was Covid
The Corona
Cough and a wheezin' all night

I threw the blanket to the floor
Oh my fever's running high
I couldn't make it to the door
Cause it was Covid 
The Corona 
Cough and a wheezin' all night

Crawled out of bed
My head was light
Crumbled to the floor
It was just too hard to fight
Curled in a ball
Oh what a sight
Crawled back into bed
It was the hardest of all nights

This Covid V it struck so bad
It just knocked me to the ground
Oh it took all that I had
Cause it was Covid
The Corona
Cough and a wheezin' all night

Crawled out of bed
My head was light
Crumbled to the floor
It was just too hard to fight
Curled in a ball
Oh what a sight
Crawled back into bed
It was the hardest of all nights

This Covid V it struck so bad
It just knocked me to the ground
Oh it took all that I had
Cause it was Covid
The Corona
Cough and a wheezin' all night

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Unrealistic Expectations

As we take the first tenuous, and in many aspects, unwise steps towards returning to life as we once knew it, there is I fear a wholly unrealistic expectation gripping millions: namely that their golf games have miraculously improved since last they touched their clubs.

With this sport now open for business in modified form in every juridiction across this nation, golfers everywhere are no doubt harboring thoughts of birdies, one putts and the eradication of that slice which has attached to their swing like white on rice for years.

After residing in an alternate universe where every breath was fraught with potential peril, it is indeed glorious to be occupied with nothing more critical than moving the ball in the rough, with gimmes, mulligans, with cheating and lying about one's score and aptitude.

Certainly stark reminders that our nightmare is far from over will follow us around the course as we search in vain for ball washers, rakes in the trap and even putt at, not into, holes. For most, we will be compelled to walk for hours as we perform our task here, something nearly as daunting as the game itself. And we will keep our distance from those with whom we are paired, standing at no closer range than the length of the gimme we would like to be able to take.

And yes, to our great consternation, our swing will contain the same flaws, we still take the club too far inside, we still sway instead of turn, we still have our hands too high, too low, too much of this and clearly not enough of that our permanent companion.

But maybe, at least for a little while, our disillusion will remain hidden. Cursing at the gods will not accompany every missed three footer, every search in vain for the ball in the woods. Maybe we will discover the great joy in just being here, in being able to once more do something we have taken for granted in the past.

Covid 19 has robbed us of so much and will continue to follow us wherever we go for the indefinite future. But at least for a few hours we would ask that it leave us alone, that our minds be permitted to focus on learning once again that there is apparently no number greater than six, on remembering those few shots we can later brag about to people who have absolutely no interest in our describing in excruciating detail our second stroke on the fourth hole.

Yes, I would dearly love another 20 yards out of my drive. But at least for a little bit, I don't believe I will care quite so much about fulfilling wholly unrealistic expectations.

It is just wonderful to have the idea of golf take a seat at the table again.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

The Stupidity Test

Every morning, after watching several hours of Fox and Friends to set his agenda for the day, Donald Trump takes a test he must pass before he can begin his maskless day in the Oval Office: the stupidity test.

A large Q-tip is inserted into the nose of Mr.Trump and through an opening into an enormous void area where his brain should otherwise be housed. As long as there is no evidence of active functioning cells in this location, the President can move forward with the non-performance of his duties.

Mr. Trump has been tested on a daily basis since the middle of January and has passed each and every time with flying colors. There was one brief scare on his admission that this was indeed a pandemic but that was quickly erased when he gave his two hour stand up comedy routine before the gathered media that same afternoon.
The President's doctor emphatically stated that Mr. Trump is the stupidest person in the nation. "Do not worry about the health of this President or the country. There is no chance that this man will ever fail his test. For not only is Donald Trump the stupidest President we have ever had, he is the stupidest person who ever lived. He is the absolute picture of stupidity."

A grateful nation rested easier.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Donald Trump Is A Very Lucky Man

Donald Trump is a very lucky man.

He has not studied the history of this country, has not analyzed the Constitution, has not considered the actions of the Presidents who came before him in moments that tested their capacity.

He is not weighed down by rules of law, by standards of decency and morality, by cumbersome thoughts of separation of powers, by precedent, by troubling facts or inconvenient conclusions.

He is most fortunate that there is only one character in his play and as long as he is pleased the rest of the world matters not.

The freedoms of Donald Trump are endless. Free to lie, to cheat, to steal. Free to denigrate, to castigate, to ruin lives. Free to act wholly unconstrained from the dictates of his station. Free to be the worst of himself at all times.

Donald Trump is indeed a very lucky man. Which makes America a very unlucky place in which to reside at the moment.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Achoo the Flu

There once was a flu named Achoo
Who never really knew what to do
He ran when he should walk
Stayed quiet when asked to talk
Achoo was up to no good
Bad all he understood

Achoo had a friend called Sneeze
And Sneeze had a friend named Wheeze
One day they hatched a plan 
In secret they took it and ran
Their minds in flight where they stood
Thinking what they could and would

They gathered some more for their group
Fever and Cough joined the troop
Then Mayhem was added
Their roster now padded
They were loaded and ready to pounce
Their presence they'd surely announce

Achoo went from door to door
Bringing himself and much more
He was sneaky and real underhanded
Many never even knew he had landed
With Fever and Cough he attacked
On a path almost no one had tracked

Around the globe Achoo went
At first no one knew what that meant
But Fever and Cough made it clear
That Mayhem was so very near
And thus many headed inside 
And looked for their leader to guide

Achoo and his crew did much harm
Before any did sound the alarms
But those that looked for Achoo
And knew best what they must do
All flattened Achoo and his friends
Made pancakes of them in the end

But here in the place I reside
Achoo and his friends still can hide
And Mayhem still reigns
Fever and Cough yet remain
For our trump(et) was slow and unseeing
And too many of us now just unbeings

Achoo, Sneeze, Wheeze and the rest
Are all powerful 'til we pass the test
And stay in our homes
For there's no place to roam
Where Achoo the flu can't find us
When we only have Trump behind us

So I hope Trump comes to his senses
And leaves it not all to Mike Pence(s)
Soon I pray Achoo's gone
And we can then carry on
Without Achoo or his friends
Where a cough does not signal our end

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

200,000 PER DAY


 ("Coronavirus Live Updates: Daily Death Toll Will Nearly Double by June, Trump Administration Models Predict")

This MUST be a typo I thought. 200,000 new cases PER DAY by the end of this month. And if those projections bear out, that would mean the numbers of those contracting Covid 19 would be approximately seven fold what we are experiencing today. HOW CAN THAT BE ACCEPTABLE?

We have lived under the weight of this disease for months, first slowly then all at once. The administration misunderstood, misled, missed the neon warning signs from other countries. Whatever the reason, the government has failed miserably to date.. But to see the numbers on the page of what may well occur as we lessen restrictions on vast portions of our population, is to actively invite death into our homes.

How, in light of the FEMA analysis can the President or anyone else on the state or federal level, advocate opening up our doors and the floodgates?

The concerns of hospitals unable to care for those gravely ill, that haunting image we have tried to eradicate as a possibilty, would become a near certain reality.

To ignore the warnings in this report would be worse than irresponsible. It would be CRIMINAL.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Water and Rocks

She is fascinated with water and rocks.

Her uncle spends part of almost every day plotting out the next family hike to a waterfall, a stream or a lake. Whenever we reach our destination she is animated in the way that little children are, unaware of any world beyond this, unbound by any adult conceptions of restrictions on conduct.

And so we stand there counting to three and then throwing small rocks or sticks into whatever body of water is before us. We watch the splash, we see the circles grow larger and then dissipate, we follow the movements of the tiny objects caught in the swirl of the rushing falls. She will advise whose turn it is to "do it". And if she were making the ultimate decisions, we would "do it" until there was no light left in the sky.

But we must move on and when we do she says "goodbye agua", for she has a friend who speaks Spanish so that is the word that comes to mind for her also. And she is bidding farewell to a companion who has entertained her and made her happy. It is her way of saying thank you.

We have had a lot of rain in recent days and at the bottom of her driveway large puddles recently formed. Her mom made certain she wore her boots as she jumped up and down making the biggest splash she could. And on the walk down the dirt road later that day she hopscotched from puddle to puddle creating little explosions of agua everywhere she went.

Her grandma brought her an old ice tray where she now houses her favorite rocks. On a recent walk she was jamming as many as she could into her pockets. When she ran out of space, she started stuffing them in her socks.

She has made a new best friend in this her temporary residence during a fraught moment in all our lives. She has discovered great pleasures in being outdoors, in running up and down the smallest of hills, in learning how to carefully walk down the steps outside her house, repeating her routine over and over until she has etched it in her mind.

She finds joy in most everything, nothing too inconsequential to be noticed, studied and played with. She listens for the sound of birds. She asks the trucks passing by to toot their horns. She awaits the arrival of the dog next door with breathless anticipation.

If only we could see the world through her eyes, if we could find everything so intriguing, so important, so full of possibilities.

If only we could live our days searching for water. Armed with a pocket full of rocks. 

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Should The Dems Go After Biden and the Possibility of Inconvenient Truths?

("Will Biden Play By the Rules?")

Is Biden another Franken(stein)? An inappropriate hugger or something far worse?

Al Franken was sacrificed to the #MeToo gods, his career gone in a blink of an eye, the Democratic zeal to respond forcefully to any allegations of impropriety by their own the counterpoint to the Republican adamant refusal to seriously investigate supposed crimes by a Supreme Court nominee or the rampant, persistent sexual wrongs of the President.

Every political impulse would say what is good for the Republican goose should be so for the Democrat presumptive nominee. That the possibility of allowing Donald Trump four more years of his special brand of perversion is too high a price to pay for retaining our own moral high ground. 

But I know the answer is that when matters are the hardest, that is the moment of the true test of one's convictions. If we want to be better than our lesser selves, better than what we rail against, then we must give full weight to the charges of Ms. Reade. We must challenge the position of Mr. Biden as we did Justice Kavanaugh and as we wish we could the repulsively smug Mr. Trump.

Otherwise,we are no different from those Republicans we castigate for their moral failings. For it is our duty to search even for inconvenient truths.