LOCAL VIEW –Soggy Summer Sonnet Sequence–

It was the wettest July I can remember. Fifty miles to our south, down in Worchester, Massachusetts, they actually set an all-time record for July rainfall. We were close, (though, two decades ago, the July ex-hurricane Bertha passed through and we got more on a single day). Also I recall a very rainy June, around ten years ago, when my deeper potatoes turned to slime, but I grew the most amazing spinach crop ever, with plants four feet tall.

Ordinarily I’d be fascinated by the extremes of New England weather, but the madness of the “Swamp” tends to spoil my enjoyment of life. My moods resemble a yoyo even in ordinary times, which is all well and good, as the agony and ecstasy are fuel for poetry (and I fancy myself a poet). But the infuriating behavior of politicians has made me a yoyo on steroids. Is there such a thing as a rocket-powered yoyo? That is what my moods have resembled.

My moods tend to bound between complete despair over the idiotic shenanigans of the moronic elite down in the “Swamp”, and a strange, joyous certainty God has them hooked, and is about to land them like flapping flounders.

In any case, my garden has suffered a certain amount of neglect. Partly this is because I recognized my skills have slowed, and planted the rows farther apart so I could use the rototiller rather than a hoe. However the rains turned the soil to a mire. If you stepped into the garden you sank in mud above your ankle. Obviously using the rototiller was impossible, so I desperately sank to my knees to weed by hand, but even that was ridiculous. Ordinarily you shake the soil from the roots of weeds, which causes them to perish swiftly, but this past July the roots were like a hippie’s wet hair, and rather than shaking dirt free you just whipped mud all over the place, and to add insult to injury, the weeds didn’t die. You merely transplanted them, for they re-rooted where you lay them.

Not that such excuses make a whit of difference, if you actually depend on your soil for food. However I (hopefully correctly) determined that famine will not stalk our land in 2021, but rather in 2022. Already I am planning for next year, and abandoning parts of this year’s garden to the weeds. (It is called “letting land lie fallow”, if you need an excuse). In the present one can still go to the grocery and buy bags of rice and bags of beans, plus boxes of pasta and jars of pasta sause, (and I would highly recommend people do so, though some may call it “hoarding”.) In 2022 those shelves may be empty, and excuses don’t make a good lunch.

Another excuse for not weeding was a crop we raise called “grandchildren.” It is very rough on us decrepit elders when they insist upon being born far away. On July 4th I had twin granddaughters born prematurely in Portland, Maine. The NICU up there is not in easy reach of weeds in my garden.

Meanwhile another daughter-in-law is on the verge of birth in NYC, with all its nonsense. NYC is not in easy reach of weeds in my garden, either. But I went there, and studied the people midst the coronavirus illogic. Meanwhile the weeds flourished in the drenching rains.

In some ways I was living like we are a free people in a free land, driving to Portland Maine and NYC and never wearing a mask, but I was nervous how long it would be allowed. Not that I need a mask or the vaccine. I have God’s vaccine, for I have had the virus.

At this point I should be blunt, and state that local people have seen examples of the vaccine killing people. One example was a sixty-year-old woman who was scared to death of the virus and stayed home for months, wearing a mask even at home, and who was eager to take the vaccine so she could leave home, but who promptly died. Another case was a healthy young man who played basketball at the local courts and who got very sick when he got the first dose of the vaccine, but recovered and took the second dose, and died. Such incidents do not make the network news, but local people know the local people who died. And in my case I had a long-distance friend, Robert Felix, (who ran the “Ice Age Now” site), and was shocked when he died within weeks of having the vaccine. His rheumatoid arthritis, which was under control, went out of control, and he was in a wheelchair within days, and died in a few weeks. In any case, there is reason to fear the vaccine more than the virus, especially as local people over ninety years old have had the virus and recovered with symptoms not much worse than a cold’s.

The distrust towards the government is at a level I have never seen before. At a local hospital five nurses quit rather than be forced to take the vaccine. I have heard things which ordinarily would strike me as conspiracy-theory and paranoia, from doctors and nurses who are not ordinarily inclined towards hysteria, and usually strike me as a bit too down to earth (because they are uninterested in poetry.) I have heard you can tell from a person’s red blood cells whether they have taken the vaccine, as the cells are “not normal”. Why expose children to such experimental dangers, when children seldom even develop symptoms from the virus, and seem perfectly able to develop antibodies on their own? Then there is an actual video of Bill Gates stating over-population is a problem which a vaccine might “cure.” How can ordinary people trust such a man? I heard the distrust expressed like this: “Why should a government which condones the abortion of millions of babies be trusted with the lives of millions of children?”

I suppose to even report that such distrust exists could get me cancelled by “cancel-culture”, but I simply report what I see. It is upsetting to see Freedom of Speech under attack.

All I can do is act within my corner of the world. Speaking only for myself, I will refuse the vaccine, and see what happens. And to express myself, I’ll write my sonnets, untroubled if they are canceled, and snickering because someone will have to read them in order to cancel them.

I have done all I can. That is enough.
I will not waste my time with bemoaning.
I plant the seeds, and then luck can be tough
With cutworms and crows; my telephoning 
God about frosts and floods is my first and last
Resort. What else (besides work) can I do?
I look up and half the summer has passed
And, though defeated, I feel my virtue
Is good enough. God can't ask for more.
Even in ruins I find serenity.
My body is grounded, but my spirits soar.
Life as it is is good enough for me.
Our Creator is great, an this much I know:
I may plant the seeds but I don't make them grow.
Once again I am losing my war with weeds.
Where other men can sit and watch corn grow
I know woe. Where a wise man concedes
He's getting old, I do not seem to know
How to age gracefully, and, full of fight,
Take on foes that might make a young man blanche.
Mouse fights lion; raging Dylan's dying light,
I still want to wrench small plots to a ranch.
I claim that I can, though I know I can't.
Wee flea gets tough with big elephant.
Old farmer gets mugged by the seeds he'll plant.
I rush, but eleven steps makes me pant.
I'm determined to prove my life's not complete 
Until punctuated by my final defeat.
If I were Augustus, I would not want 
This month named for me. Everything begs
For long days to linger, but dawns taunt
By cracking later, and sunsets cut the legs
From twilight. Too late to plant; too early
To harvest; a time even the dawn-song
Of a robin taints a morning's pearly
Sky with rue, for, (though it may well be wrong
To think this way), before August is done
Robins flee south. Dawns become fearful.
Is this song their last? Fret foils August's fun.
As songs depart daybreaks will grow tearful
Unless you lift eyes from the shade up the trees
To see golden rays in the high canopies.

Uplift us, O Lord, from mire we're bogged in.
We've made ourselves strangers in our own homes.
Nothing feels right. Our sorrows are maudlin.
Our songs are all flat. Our affection roams
Seeking what is missing, and that is You.
You should be the reason church bells ring
But they clank. You are the salt; it is through
Your grace life makes sense, but the flavoring
Is absent, and the guff that men pursue
Is hollow-hearted. Yet with just a glance
You could make people dance; make dull skies blue
And dull days rich. Please give us a chance
For without You the mire only gets deeper
And climbing out just gets steeper and steeper.
They are fools. Fools! A world full of fools
All rushing to board a swift-sinking ship.
Like housewives at a sale, nobody cools
The madness; they push and shove; gripe and grip
Straws breaking camel's backs as they pass through
The eye of a needle hid in haystacks.
The madly mixed metaphor they pursue
Makes them look like a dog which attacks
Its own tail. In circles they're not sure who
Is last and who is coming in first
But they shove aside kindness, kick the true
In their rush to sate insatiable thirst,
Yet all this greed, lust and hate they promote
Is sure to fall flat when God clears His throat.


Psalm 73 v 18-20:

"Surely you place them on slippery ground:
You cast them down in ruin.
How suddenly they are destroyed,
Completely swept away by terrors!
As a dream when one awakes
So when you arise, O Lord,
You will despise them as fantasies."

LOCAL VIEW –Awaiting–

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Consider the plight of the bedraggled
Daffodil, native to the sunny slopes of Spain’s
South coast, with the Mediterranean’s sea-gulled
Waters stretched out below, but feeling pains
Known by the north, because northern women
Wanted sunny yellow, and men transplanted
Bulbs far from native soils. Bulbs wake and then
Poke up into chill, a landscape poets ranted
Was unfair in Aprils a millennium
Ago, and still rant is far, far too cruel.
Up comes the daffodil, and we see them
And shake our heads, and call each a fool
But is it their fault? Or have we recanted
Belief in the blooms that we ourselves planted?

Spring continues to tantalize like the apple dangled on a string in front of a recalcitrant donkey, to keep it plodding forward. It lures from the five-day-forecast, but the present sees snow falling from leaden skies.

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I do not control the sunshine. The sense of helplessness is made worse by the fact my daughter is in labor at the moment. I remember how helpless I felt when my wife was giving birth, but at least I was there, and she said she was glad I was there even though I felt useless while “being useful.” Now it seems even worse, as a grandfather. I pace about the house and look out upon a landscape of slush.

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Come on, Old Sol. Burst through the clouds and shine.