Third COVID letter: winter, take-out, books, cat, community, polity, poems, perseverance

<< Fourth COVID | Letters | Spring 2020 >>

Third Letter Covid-19 Letter to Family and Friends

Dear ...[friend]...

While we are having rather pleasant April weather in Eastern Canada, there are parts of Canada still in ‘late Winter mode’. We are fortunate here to be able to take walks at least a few times per week. COVID-19 is still severely with us. I have found it gratifying to be able to reach out to family and friends by phone, email and by land mail. Peter has been so supportive. He has done the shopping, and I’ve been treated to 'take-out', which he chooses to pick up, rather than have it delivered.

My favorite bookshop has closed for the rest of April, but hopefully, will open for books ordered by e-mail or phone to pick up or deliver, by May. I’m getting low on books. While I have been composing and writing poetry, creativity comes in spurts, so there are many ‘dramatic pauses’ in between.

Our cat’s rash is finally clearing up. He’s had it for almost two years. It seems that the latest hypersensitivity diet food has finally worked, and we can give him more variety in his diet. He’s now just over ten years old.

I will include some more inspirational poems and articles in this letter and items from our local newspapers ConneXions, and the one for which I formerly wrote. These articles inform you just how much Ottawa is on the brink of big changes in city planning, design and priorities for developing better, more integrated communities. A community is a much more effective tool for democratic processes and integrative and interactive success than a neighbourhood. The two are quite different. Our own neighbourhood: Overbrook, is to be one of the areas which will be slated for much improvement. We have a wonderful councillor, Rawlson King. He is the first black alderperson to be on City Council. He has been a ward and neighbourhood leader here for many years. He’s socially progressive, and a really good listener! Our new neighbourhood council chairwoman is also a really good leader. Thanks to my being able to contact her, I was able to get our neighbourhood newspaper revitalized, up and running. Yes, I can be a real pest sometimes, but being the ‘squeaky wheel which gets the grease’ is sometimes a good thing.

Now for some happy, inspiring poetry by others and some of my own poetry:


by Alicia Ostriker

            The optimists among us
            taking heart because it is spring
            skip along
           attending their meetings
           signing their e-mail petitions
          marching with their satiric signs
          singing their we shall overcome songs
          posting their pungent twitters and blogs
          believing in a better world
          for no good reason

         I envy them
        said the old woman

      The seasons go round they
      go round and around
      said the tulip
     dancing among her friends
     in their brown bed in the sun
     in the April breeze
     under a maple canopy
    that was also dancing
    only with greater motions
   casting greater shadows
   and the grass
  hardly stirring

  What a concerto
  of good stinks said the dog
  trotting along Riverside Drive
  in the early spring afternoon
  sniffing this way and that
  how gratifying the cellos of the river
  the tubas of the traffic
  the trombones
  of the leafing elms with the legato
  of my rivals’ piss at their feet
  and the leftover meat and grease
  singing along in all the wastebaskets

Source: Poetry (February 2011)

Poem of the Day: Spring


Nothing is so beautiful as Spring –

   When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;         
   Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush         

Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;

   The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush         
   The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush         

With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.

What is all this juice and all this joy?

   A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning

In Eden garden. – Have, get, before it cloy,

   Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,         

Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,

   Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.         


By Billy Collins

If ever there were a spring day so perfect, so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

that it made you want to throw open all the windows in the house

and unlatch the door to the canary's cage, indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,

a day when the cool brick paths and the garden bursting with peonies

seemed so etched in sunlight that you felt like taking

a hammer to the glass paperweight on the living room end table,

releasing the inhabitants from their snow-covered cottage

so they could walk out, holding hands and squinting

One of mine-from my Fedora Collection

What I’d Deliver at a Commencement Ceremony for Today’s Grads

by Diane Stevenson Schmolka *inspired by Jimmy Cagney

When I was asked to speak to you folks today, I was horn swoggalled when I graduated over 50 years ago, I heard how special we all were that because of our degrees, we were so powerful that our dreams would come true because we were the heroes and it was our duty to improve everyone because the world was our classroom

I’ve reached the stage where my gumshoes are wearing thin but I can never settle back on my heels I’ve put my foot in my mouth so often, I had a huge overbite and after shooting myself in the foot so much my toes have taken a beating

I made the mistake of taking eloquent oratory seriously most of it is pompous misguided rhetoric sounds like a 30’s movie in a crazy dream

I am trying to get through those bubbles you’re in now trying to plow through the crazy-making phrases the empty patronizing compliments which will leave you more alone as though you were in a strange city where no one speaks your language

You are no more special than any other person in the world Your piece of paper is not worth more than the dignity afforded To each person breathing in this world

To be successful with your education is to realize yourself fully and then put as much into the meaning of your life as you know how to pour into your interaction with your co-workers all that you can give from all you’ve ever known heard seen or remember

Within you there is an ocean which has carried the pasts of all your beginnings the possibilities of all your endings and the fragilities of all your Imminent presences

You are a cistern while your consciousness is only a sailboat traversing the waves of time.

If you think you can get away doing a song-and-dance act, tap your way to power or sing your way to success without taking painful steps of continual learning, you will dehydrate saturated with salt nowhere to put it.

Like the ocean you need every element every cell every living being because you are only as equal as they are like an ocean, you will always struggle but you will be supported by buoyancies of air whispers and sibilants of winds strokes of rain, sambas of sand waltzes of trees songs of whales and dances of all your creatures

A gumshoe’s life is often lonely but one of the most important things I’ve learned is that without each of us on this earth life is an empty screen so whenever you do get a job put what your oceanic elements gave at your birth

Whether it leads anywhere rationally or not whether you end up learning what you thought you’d never need

Some of the best gifts are never wrapped they sometimes appear or feel as though they were dumped on your doorstep or presented as an insult to increase your struggles even so look them in the eye tell them the truth and say thanks

After all, we writers are the scavengers of life’s experiences we not only eat crow we get published for presenting it as the best gourmet cookbook anyone can read

You never know where your experiences can lead trust your enthusiasm keep your hearts and minds open like the ocean and your lives will be full


Sight Reading

by Diane Stevenson Schmolka (written Dec. 1972).

note droppings pigeon-toed on my eyes beckon me to scrape them into shape. Beginning, their tiny shells entice me to ascend plateaus as black keys lift me to Everest and the intervals climax in my hand as the melody slips away back into the page...

I hope this post uplifts you. I hope you write or phone me or e-mail me if you possibly can. I think we have another couple of months of this pandemic, and when we come out of this, our whole world will have been changed - not all for the worse, but some things for the better. We might have to look for the positive clues to discover what is now better from this horrific experience, but by searching for those constructive and positive ciphers, we’ll be able to gradually build a better world. It will take much patience and perseverance, I believe, but it will be worth it.

With my love and deep wishes for your health to remain good, and your inner spirits to continue to appreciate that we each and all, are alive and loved!


<< Fourth COVID | Letters | Spring 2020 >>

Page last modified on March 24, 2021, at 01:28 AM