by Stephen Mead
Take it with, take it.
Over the shoulder,
right side; left?
Why be superstitious? Place bets on what’s become normalcy
as if to survive is precarious.
Here is an example: at a coliseum-sized superstore where all can be bought for a soul
in desperation, two women without face masks face off in the children’s toy department,
unquestioned hostility a given as the thickest skunk stench
when for that gentle creature it is defense but for these two, who knows,
all their invisible potential corona drops falling on synthetic star swirls
of heaped toy goddess dolls. Did they touch eyes, noses first & to what other children,
parents, will those rancor-laced touches go?
Never mind. Asking risks accusations of self-righteousness, an empathic indulgence
for the socially responsible with no innate filters to prevent self-flagellation later on
dissolving into that you did not feel enough refrain, deeply consider the context,
the causes and how in hell could you?
In hell, how could you, the name of that fertility goddess was nearly erased for all time
by different religions smashing her statues, her edifices, so much alabaster
like broken salt shakers littering the ground to glint in dust and be trampled.
A handful of surviving druid types, escaped the stakes by going underground,
building labyrinth networks to domiciles of peace which included cisterns,
lightning systems and stoves, the good goddess in kitchen niches
blessing and smiling on them all.
For us what excavated henges, shielding secret life-devoted circles, will one day be found?
The tower block ruins as obelisks? The torn billboards as giant hieroglyphic scrolls?
Pandemic dread looms cemetery-large as crosses for the unknown
marked in earlier times with afterlife goals shown by the canopic pots, the mummified horses,
the great swords and spears stockpiled; even ancient cave ancestors painting of large hunts still
in some sort of spirit world after toiling, tired, scarred flesh was through.
Oh, salt grains sparkling all over the heavens show us how the light gets in
and brought out again from all of the broken places, including the asylum-locked,
the quarantine fever hospitals. Help us to step away from watching our demise
on social media amid conspiracy theories and non-violent protesters, the leaf-blowing dads,
the wall of moms napalmed by heavily-uniformed fire dragons, each a gargoyle colossus
becoming legions on home ground. This is all way too dystopian.
Help us to farm our plots, watch for hummingbirds, join communally with our neighbors
painting rainbows with the faith of children saving the world.
Above this so distant in endless galaxies continuing to unfold what do the stars really know
with our eyes resting upon them for vast calm or for help?
They seem welcoming and expectant, winking and nodding around our little glowing orb
shining with the lights of so many sorts of homes, and eternity will not blink on it.
Eternity will hold, the frontiers of space encompassing everything like a great soup
to which our salt is flavoring, even if we be nothing so much as just grains all.
Stephen Mead is an Outsider multi-media artist and writer. Since the 1990s he’s been grateful to many editors for publishing his work in print zines and eventually online. He is also grateful to have managed to keep various day jobs for the Health Insurance. Currently he is resident artist/curator for The Chroma Museum, artistic renderings of LGBTQI historical figures, organizations and allies predominantly before Stonewall. Art by Karyn Kloumann, founder of award-winning indie publisher Nauset Press.