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When I write about family I fall into my voice. Writing the words Daughter, Father, Husband, Cousin evokes some lens of poetic truth. Intuitively I know that the entire universe can be seen through the telescope of family: my biological family, family of choice, and family of circumstance.


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It’s happening. Again. The leaves are falling at alarming rates. The charm of the early red maples is expired. The fanned rake fisted with browns and yellows leans against the garage where sorting is necessary to shield the cars against the eventual winter. The color drains from three of my fingers like an oak leaf in late October — the first telling of my need for gloves.

The news blares Trump & Covid, the raptors of our psyches as we near the election. Infection rises as leaves fall — a tidy correlation. Harm’s way becomes a chronic narrative. Nothing feels settled. Our beings seem to live in the attics of ancient farmhouses, the floorboards rotted through in spots giving way to helpful bits of natural light below. Until the sun sets. Then the tentative nature of solid footing is heightened. Each step reminds us of the possibility of falling through once and for all. These are not good times. …

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They got a lead on the case
Well, maybe more of an angle
The U.S. had gotten mean
Mean as meat
The Politicians?
They kept their stock close
Fed them all kinds of propaganda
Beefing them up
Like lambs to the slaughter

The Big Guys figured out everybody’s Passwords
They found their way into America
All the Antivaxxers used children’s birthdates
While the Teamsters favored lines from Willie Nelson songs
Nurses tended towards compassionate combinations
Teenagers liked fantasy and Anime characters
Farmers went for abbreviated chemical terminology

They got inside their email
And their games and their work computers
They didn’t read closely
Just the highlights and catchphrases
They gleaned enough to make Soundbites
And Slogans and custom logoed baseball caps
And the People thought, “That’s Me!” …

for Johnny, Jiggs, & Claire

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Why do we think of flying?
The dying making their way gently
to some softer place
leaving us to flap our wings in grief

There’s a need for the goodness of angels
making room for the wild among us
brought to our knees by the process of dying
Or it could be the harps

I remember my Little Golden Book
so spellbound by The Littlest Angel
I’m sure there was a harp
and that filmy blue gossamer of grief

giving relief from the sting of death
before I knew it
The Littlest Angel was flying
safely through magnificent clouds
flanked by the smiling doulas of…

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Lockdown Protesters Speak Truth

Like snow melting off mountains after a harsh winter, raging streams of Lockdown Protests are swelling across our country. Where there is no luxury of enough, or enough is close to the bone, people’s lives are deteriorating. I find myself aligning with the Protestors more and more. Not the bullying, the ugliness, the confrontations with Nurses, but with the protest itself.

The privileged and educated bullhorn our science — stay home, slow the spread, buy time for vaccine development, save lives. It’s true. It’s science true. And yet we are missing something.

We the People — me and you — all the way to the height of power in this country are reacting at knee jerk level to a problem that has long existed: Inequity of access to quality of life. The Pandemic brings into relief the haves and the have nots. …

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We raise our glasses in a big old clink
Till the pieces clash into splintered chinks
Of rose and dark and very-very clear
For those who wanna look straight into the fear

You got your nurses and your doctors
And your environmental workers
It’s a medical curse
Where disaster lurks

Look now here comes the COVID free-fall
Hating on no one — spreading germs to all
We distance and we mask and we stay at home
Only some of us got to roam

We got the grocers and the take-outs
And the liquor store clerks
Working overtime
Putting comfort on our…


Lise Kunkel

for the love of the written word. Pronouns she/her

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