Connecting from a Distance of Six Feet While On a Thirty-Minute Jog

Today, on his slow jog through the park
he took a new trail off the blacktop onto
dirt, maneuvered around stumps and over
rocks. The sun shone through the leafless

maples, oaks and beech trees and even
though the leaves weren’t out, there were
enough trees to stunt the chilly spring
wind. He loves being alone in nature.

Back on the blacktop, he encountered a
little dog not on a leash and waited to
see if the dog’s adopter were around.
She was and thanked him for waiting to

see if the dog needed help. He passed
a girl carrying a puppy and he said,
“I’d love to pet your puppy but I won’t.”
She and her boy friend laughed and said

thanks. Before the end of the jog, he
watched a young boy throw a frisbee
into a tree on the disk golf course
and the boy’s father told the boy he

was trying too hard. The jogger told
the boy that he had great form though.
The boy thanked him and then made a
great toss. Approaching his car, the

jogger told a young mother who was get-
ting her child out of the back seat of
her vehicle that he has a buddy who
has a vehicle like hers and that it

has three hundred and fifty thousand
miles on it. Astonished, the young woman
smiled and said the vehicle was a really
good one. The jogger kept six feet be-

tween himself and all the people with
whom he spoke. He put his hiking sticks
in the trunk of his vehicle and drove
home. When he was about to turn into his

driveway he saw three neighbors chatting.
He lowered the passenger window and told
them that he was going to give them all
a big hug and kiss — in three months.

They laughed and then one of the group
asked if the jogger could make that six
months. Then the jogger laughed, pulled
into his garage and shut the door.

Spring Cleaning While on Lockdown

Get rid of the guns;
mom and pop on lockdown
soon will be turning into raging Huns.

Get rid of the guns;
grandma is after grandpa
for imaginary sins done.

Get rid of the guns;
grandpa is scared grandma
will discover the real sins done.

Get rid of the guns
and don’t forget the knives.
The thought of such mayhem
is giving everyone the hives.

Get rid of the knives;
keep the family safe;
help save desperate husbands and wives.

Get rid of the ropes;
we’re now hanging by a thread;
As time passes we’re losing hope
of finding them alive and not all dead.

Get rid of the virus;
we won’t let it mire us
With lockdown, we’re safe from road rage
but soon may suffer severe home rage.

Get rid of the Administration
causing so much frustration.
While home let us breathe deeply
say a prayer and save our sanity.

Get out the vote for November
when all this will be over
and the economy bounces back
and we can be kissed and kiss right back.

Just Call Me Ike*

His wife has been calling him Ikaria Wariootia
without using those words. He thought she was
just being insulting. He thought his wife was
being nasty when she told him he was an original,

a one-of-a-kind fossil of a worm. Imagine how
he felt but then he read that the scientific
community has discovered a 555 million-year-old
fossil of a creature the size of a single grain

of rice that corresponds in composition to all
future animals including humans. A friend sent
him a copy of an article about the breakthrough
scientific discovery along with this information:

The tiny, wormlike creature, named Ikaria
wariootia, is the earliest bilaterian, or organism
with a front and back, two symmetrical sides, and
openings at either end connected by a gut.

The man looked in the mirror and “Voilà,” he uttered
in great relief, “That’s me — openings at either
end connected by a gut.” As he continued to look
in the mirror, he wasn’t sure how symmetrical his

sides were anymore, but he was sure he had a
front and a back. Here all this time he felt
terrible about what his wife repeatedly called
him, but now he knows what his astute, scient-

ifically minded wife meant when she called him
an original, one-of-a-kind fossil of a worm. It
was the supreme compliment. When she called him
a real, original piece of work, she was calling

him the progenitor of the human race —a bilaterian
named Ikaria Wariootia. But, in all humility, the
man said to one and all in his newly discovered
posture of confidence, “Just call me Ike. I like Ike.”


The Corrosion

Inside because of the virus,
they sat watching Shakespeare
in Love
with an all-star cast
including Gwyneth Paltrow.
The man recalled fondly his
college course in Shakespeare
from his favorite professor.
When the film ended and the
credits came on, the man
noticed that one of the pro-
ducers was Harvey Wein-
stein. The man’s wife asked,
“Didn’t Gwyneth Paltrow
accuse him of inappropriate
sexual conduct?” The man’s
nostalgic mood was broken
by the cold face of reality
staring at him from the
credits. He cringed as he
thought about the corrosion
behind the silver screen.

How Do I Know…?

How do I know I dreamed last night?
My pillow was wet with tears.
How do I know I dreamed last night?
I awoke suddenly with fears.
How do I know I dreamed last night?
My morning vision bleared.
How do I know I dreamed last night?
But clearly, I saw you sleeping softly, my dear.
How do I know I dreamed last night?
I looked at you and my dream’s fears disappeared.

Getting Soft?

Three months of moderate
temperatures down south
and now back home up

north and in the safety of
his home during this pan-
demic, he tries to go out

and exercise each day by
himself along the lakeshore
trails except that he went

out and the temp was just
at about freezing and the
wind was blowing so hard

from the north-west that he
was able to get in only fif-
teen minutes of jogging

before heading back to
the car and heading for
home and then he re-

membered reading about
a world-class athlete who
said if he only got in fif-

teen minutes of jogging,
he would have to be
satisfied for that par-

ticular day. He took
comfort in that on this
cold day in the spring-

time hope that it will
warm up in the next
few days while he can

still get out and revel
in the wonders of nature,
and if not, he will just

have to bundle up, layer
up and go for it just
like he did during the

Polar Vortex of 2019
when he mistakenly
stayed up north — brrr.

Hey, he thought to
himself, It wasn’t that
. Am I getting soft?

How Much Kool-Aid?

It is said the alcoholic
needs to bottom out
before he or she is
ready for healing.
What will it take for
the 60,000,000 to
realize that they have
bottomed out with
this president and
that he is not Cyrus
and not Esther and
he is not leading the
white people to
salvation and safety?
What will it take for
his supporters to
realize that they are
now dying because
of his hubris and
incompetence and
that he has no idea
of what you say
when you say that
he is those Biblical
figures but he smiles
and urges you to
chant, “Lock her up!”?
How many of you
need to die before
you catch on to
the con? How much
Kool-aid must you

While Staying Home, He Remembers

While staying home in
light of the corona-
virus, he remembers
reading Crichton’s
The Andromeda Strain
and how two people in
one, little town survived
— a baby and the town
drunk. He doesn’t recall
why the baby survived
but he recalls that the
drunk survived the virus’
attack because of all
the alcohol in his
body. As he thought
about that, he asked
his wife for another
glass of wine.

Apparently, Unfortunately, It’s Already Coming True

This news story may not be anything out of the ordinary, but it could be the beginning of what was addressed in my poem Staying Home (see below).

I was sent an e-mail from a friend in Arizona. He posted a very upbeat poem about how we could spend our time getting in touch with our inner spirituality, our sense of peace and wholeness and holiness.

As I read the poem, I thought, “Maybe.”

From my Reformed theological perspective, I thought, That’s a nice goal while we remain realistic and vigilant about human behavior.

How Democracies Die

A friend sent me a copy of the book, How Democracies Die.

Here is my response to my friend after reading the book:

I really appreciated the authors’ clear graphing of their four key indicators of authoritarian behavior with follow-up examples in recent history including, of course, Trump’s track record.

The four are:

1. Rejection of (or weak commitment to) democratic rules of the game.
2. Denial of the legitimacy of political opponents.
3. Toleration or encouragement of violence.
4. Readiness to curtail civil liberties of opponents, including media.

A key component of the authors’ argument is the importance and history of mutual tolerance and forbearance and their loss in modern politics.

I think those terms are important. I would add compromise. If you are tolerant (in politics that probably is the best that can be done) and forbear your opponents, you will be willing to compromise for the sake of getting something done. Apparently, that is all washed away in our rancorous political scene all for the purpose of power and money-grabbing.

These politicians (I refrain from calling them by their elected office nomenclature.) will do anything to keep their cushy jobs and the “anything” is to sell representative democracy down the river while tribalism, authoritarianism and demagoguery appeal to the fears of a significant percentage of an impressionable and not very savvy (my opinion) public.

The railings are soft, the referees are scarce, the presidential deviancy from norms is breathtaking, the environment is filled with hostility and the grab for power and avarice go on. The one percent has been getting richer for forty to fifty years and the rest have had a harder go of it.

The authors believe that the greatest threat to our constitutional democracy is what power the president might grab in the event of a terrorist attack.

Well, we are having an attack from a tiny terrorist, a virus and, so far, the president is revealing himself to be an angry dolt.

The authors echo E.B. White’s emphasis on “freedom of the individual and egalitarianism” as the strengths of constitutional democracy and they say that tolerance and forbearance are the vehicles to guarantee the goal.

In my opinion, the authors are really great on the diagnosis and prognosis of the dis-ease but a bit fuzzy on the cure. Actually, the title tells us that.

And that is nothing new for America — maintaining our balance with so many competing expectations and differing desired outcomes is a monumental task, but we vote to keep doing that task.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book.

Thanks so much, Russ.