I Cried Tonight

seniors

photo collage – Lezlie Vermillion

 

While rains fell, I swam in the beauty of a summer shower,

the cloudy afternoon turning toward nature’s setting hour,

I think we all have our own conception of a romanticized storm

with its electrifying resonance, makes us each somehow conform.

 

This year has been a challenge to breathe, only in quiet we grieve.

Stale of a pandemic – a somber reminder of how isolate we believe

our lives would become in a manner of short-lived sordid silence.

We all stayed home together using a prescribed social distance

 

meant to keep alive, those whom we loved, could now only imagine.

We missed the dear lives we grew to know and watched a time taken

away in throes of mortality, the fear, the protective nature we live

only to suggest we are experiencing a historic timeline. We give

 

hope to the many children who walked inside the solace of a stage,

so many years did they play the roles whose time will never age.

I watched upon my seniors today, in pictures, experience in a way,

some tasking for ‘break a legs’ in a world asking survival each day.

 

Tears in my eyes as I live this constant reminder of a virtual  end,

careers, scripted lives, now faithful their realities eventually mend.


© Thom Amundsen 6/2020 – the year of the pandemic

Distance Learning

So, I imagined this happening,

the wave of the virus,

would shut us down,

remove our access to the classroom.

 

A part of me appreciated the break,

I could still with students,

have a dialogue in the distance,

never contemplated the reality.

 

Then the news,

the overbearing sentence

of every teacher, every student,

we were suddenly thrown a ball

 

and we missed, no one could grasp

the nature of our loss,

of their loss

of a world of we miss you.

 

Here we are now,

a beautiful day,

one would say,

grasp the sunlight’s rays

 

We are a positive group,

this humanity,

we will endure

like wars and 9/11.

 

Oh you will not rule us,

please COVID 19,

know we’d rather not assumptions,

we wish everyone to know you.

 

Wear a mask,

stay at home

wear a mask stay at home

we cannot deny your influence.

 

We will overcome the nature of this fear,

We must stay together, live our sphere.

Silence is a Forest

Listen to the birds singing in spring
Hear the cello at home in between

Each memory
Each moment

A song we could create in melody
If only the world not live parody
Such is the mendacity of our time
When still is beauty yet sublime

Each moment
Each memory

If in the midst of a traveled rhyme
We shut out a neighbor is a crime,
Only preserve that moment, oh 9/11
Restoration, is love in sweet Heaven

Each memory
Each moment

Now in wood, in silence find our Zen
A patch of forest heart and soul then
Speaks fond of a once nostalgic liberty
We would may always grasp this reality

Oh to know the sound a certain bird will
Sweet a peace of mind, distant cello still


©️ Thom Amundsen 4/2020

Don’t Feel Sorry For A Teacher

I run an immediate risk with teaching colleagues with such a title caught in the eye of the storm that is COVID-19. Our lives and the students we teach are forever changed, anyone, anywhere in the world will be impacted more directly than indirectly by this virus. We will all have to adjust to the new normal until a medically healing vaccine will be discovered. I speak of teachers because in my world most of us still have our jobs, and before this pandemic, there have been history books written on the scrutiny of teachers and the lack of respect for all of their work in the classroom with ‘your’ children.

I would be remiss if I didn’t first speak of all of our civil servants, our police, our fire workers, our EMTs, our service workers, our medical teams who put themselves directly in line with the contagion. In addition many people have the opportunity to still work from their homes. We have become a necessarily adaptive society using our online social network at an alarming rate. So let’s get back to teachers shall we? Without discounting the incredible numbers of unemployed I want to speak of our opportunity as educators in this unique time.

A couple of years ago, in the district I teach we went one to one with technology. No one in their right mind imagined our current peril to be the reason. The planning committees across the world with research to back up their findings would suggest that students can go further with their learning using online resources. Our school district created a system of keeping academics in focus on what was once known as a snow day. The idea didn’t take the entire day of freedom from students at home, but it did offer a limited array of academic tools to keep students on track. This system was imagined to compensate four or five days of lost education in a winter bound region of the country.

The COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed the rules. Students need their education, they need to move to the next level. Students across the world need to be able to achieve a current level of education in order to hone theirs skills to live formative futures that lay ahead. Students in post-secondary also face the same challenge. For the sake of this writing, the focus in on elementary through high school, and primarily on senior classes whose graduation walk are now hanging by a thread. This does not even speak to the extracurriculars – athletics, fine arts, business, etc.

When this virus first began to impact education, we were told we would have a week and a half before our spring break to begin implementing tools to provide students distance-learning for the rest of the school year. It would appear we may not enter the classroom through graduation. I remember hearing a colleague one day suggest that maybe teachers will gain more respect now that parents are forced to stay home from their jobs in order to care for their children. I cannot imagine what parents who need to work and cannot are going through in respect to their children who are dependent upon their love, compassion and care in home. During our ‘shelter in place’ or ‘stay at home’ mandate in nearly every state in the country, every country in the world, our children are left living uncertain and vulnerable times.

I personally don’t believe this gives teachers a better opportunity to gain respect. In fact, it increases our responsibility to move students forward. It demands that as a teacher we find a way to inspire and support students to continue moving to the next level of their education. The COVID-19 virus is a mandate on education, and we as teachers need to embrace this opportunity in the midst of crisis.

Now more than ever teachers cannot manifest the identity that allows the general public to believe we may take ownership in lesser stressed occupations than workers in many capacities across the country. Teachers need to step up and create online classrooms that will capture the imagination of students across the world. In the classroom, we as teachers are asked to provide students with a safe environment for learning and coping in a dynamic and fluid world. More than ever, as we reach into student homes we need the parents to feel confident their children are not being ignored and not being forced to move in rampant fashion into negative aspects of such remarkable free time in their lives.

As a teacher, we need to reach our students and not let them believe at an ever increasing and alarming level that we do not take stake in moving them forward and giving them the tools to continue to hone their academic skill set. As a teacher, we need to continue to be a student mentor. That is what we signed up for. That cannot change.

Be safe everyone – keep your distance – wear your masks – love each other.


© Thom Amundsen 4/2020

3AM

A quiet shadow

a new normal

remember the names

seemed abandoned souls

when in the cloud of our lives

their names forever

etched in our mind,

and now tonight

I gave pause to a moment

looked outside to see empty streets

an occasional walker,

sometime a couple hoping they together

might escape the nightmare

looms about us all indiscriminate

infectious –

we need this isolation

the loneliest of hearts

forced tonight, tomorrow,

in the shadows of sunlight

the misty tears of a rain,

always to live for ourselves,

to find peace in the mind

of our own stability,

for this is now tomorrow.


©Thom Amundsen 4/2020

11 AM

It is when I read the news,

the WHO

releases numbers

some refuse to hear,

yet I am curious,

if not a little scared.

 

I looked outside tonight,

used to live on a quiet street,

maybe three cars an hour,

tonight,

on a busy highway,

a couple of cars, blocks apart,

8 PM,

not even bar time,

not close to rush hour

just a traffic glut

on a regular night.

 

I stopped in the grocery,

crossed paths with masks,

curious eyes,

downcast glances,

not a lot of conversation

when avoiding

human interaction.

 

I’ll go to bed again tonight,

I’ll be alone tonight,

the new me,

getting used to an isolation

without a cabin nearby.

I’ll think about those I love,

I miss,

I yearn,

my double life,

has become

a singular challenge

waiting on

tomorrow,

the news.


© Scott F Savage 3/2020

The Sudden Nature of Touch

I am in my quiet,

the fortress of my own

 

isolation.

 

I’m doing everything right,

six feet apart,

wash your hands,

clean your countertops,

do the laundry,

wear gloves at the gas station,

(wait I didn’t, a week ago, what if … )

 

So many, wonders, what if,

thank God I have my dog,

the only issue though is when he reaches to

 

 

touch me,

 

 

it usually ends in an abrasive

scratch,

I’ll rather have you close than

catching me in full gallant leap.

 

I can think of other times in my life when that

unconscious leap occurred

into the arms of one we love,

 

of those we love,

 

of the beauty and grace of a hug

of knowing we were consciously

being held.

 

I no longer imagine my friend

who was in her own faze

 

of the healing nature of a hug

 

asking for a constant hug

to such a degree,

would I take a turn

a distant hallway,

find a stairwell,

a corner to escape this moment

 

of discovery.

 

I would like that moment back,

or maybe let’s wait a week from now,

I promise,

I will shower,

wash my hands,

wipe down my countertops,

keep a six foot distance,

until no longer

do I need to repress

 

my own desire,

 

a need to be held,

 

a wish to hold

 

a screaming irony to avoiding those hugs

throughout the entirety

of my own

chosen

 

isolated life.

 

COVID 19 rant


© Thom Amundsen 3/2020

Waiting for the Zombies

I’m not one for mass hysteria,

won’t find me holding a

‘the world will end tomorrow’

or

catch me if you can

while I run myself ragged

with a self-seeking

paranoid delusion.

 

Walk me through the pain,

it is real,

it is scary,

so surreal feels like an apocalypse

not the news,

go shopping at Target tonight,

would you, would you dare,

wear a mask,

(not kidding about that one)

anticipate lots of empty

shelves

and more staff than you have ever needed.

 

They, the staff, the workers,

the kids and parents and friends and family,

they need their jobs,

they’re one of the fortunates,

as am I  teacher,

online learning,

we didn’t sign up for this,

but we will shine,

for tomorrow

our kids will find

a way to learn their skills,

rather than,

driving mom and dad insane.

 

Now let’s talk about zombies,

the eery fantasy,

I’ve never been into them,

not even

World War Z.

 

Just look at the horizon,

the quiet landscape,

only a few cars drifting by,

storefronts,

not boarded yet.

Only the hoarders

and the needful,

who only are thinking of themselves,

like me, sometimes,

I’m afraid.

 

Thank God for the service workers,

the medical, EMT, the delivery, civil servants …

all the others I seemingly ignore,

but count on,

to bring me my more.

 

We live in the path of

a mysterious virus,

like a machine it is expounding its girth,

we are all the suspect

of our own desire to breathe.

 

The zombies are coming,

(well they’re really not)

but what will we call this

when the dust settles,

the changing of our world,

the change in our lives.

 

Embrace the mystique of this our real,

let your heart and soul lead the way.

An Unconditional Prelude

We stood and watched,

heard about a couple of planes

ascending into the atmosphere

above and beyond a toxic city.

 

We wondered aloud,

thought oh my, such a tragedy,

imagined only a particular moment,

far beyond our backyard,

we don’t even need a fence,

so convenient,

so far away.

 

We began to stare

a certain shock

this calamity of our social

atmosphere,

shutting down,

closing, ending,

creating financial ruin,

the livelihood of so many,

suddenly matters little,

not a bitter response,

just one of humanity,

a time to understand,

find meaning.

 

There is ahead of ourselves a prelude

asking, universal, unconditional love.


© Thom Amundsen 3/2020