I Can’t Breathe

(This dramatic poem by Caroline Donnola speaks to the tragic state of our world.)

I can’t breathe.
I can’t breathe.
I can’t breathe.
For months it was
patients of all ages
from all walks of life
who couldn’t breathe
because the coronavirus
devoured their lungs.
One hundred thousand Americans
Dead from this disease
because they couldn’t breathe.
How ironic
now that the survivors try
to return to living
it’s George Floyd
who couldn’t breathe.
One black man—
one more black man—
George Floyd couldn’t breathe.
For eight minutes
a knee on his neck.
For eight minutes
the bystanders pleaded.
For eight minutes
George Floyd begged.
How do you write a poem
about this kind of murder?
In iambic pentameter
it goes something like this:

First torment
then suffocation
then you are no more.

Faith in the Time of Corona

“Good morning”

‘Well, it could be better.”

“Trust in God and it will be”


A conversation on the sidewalk

On a coronavirus morning.


The child’s question:

If there is a God,

then why are we afflicted

by this silent killer?


By what authority

Does He ask us

To have faith, to trust Him.


By the sin of Eve

Who ate the apple.


By the authority of

Abraham ready

to sacrifice his son.


By the suffering of Job.

By the resurrection of Jesus.


When science and technology falter,

When the departments to which our

Health and safety were relegated

Are not equal to the moment,


What are the tools we, the people,

Have to build with so that we 

Don’t wait passively for science 

To give us answers

that it does not, 

that it cannot have.


Faith is the province of religion.

What comes next is what we build together.


May 20, 2029


Bodies and Souls

(I’m delighted to post this new poem by my creative, lyrical friend Caroline Donnola)

These hours, these days

move slower than slow—


by the lack of momentum

as in a slow-motion dance

or a jagged mime,

while behind the scenes

the bodies stack up

as if in a war.


The ones in charge don’t speak to us

about human souls.

They speak about the data, the market,

as we kiss our loved ones goodbye,

not in person, not flesh to flesh

but symbolically

through a window pane—

our distress a stark crescendo

as the dearly departed

wait to be buried,

their bodies turning ripe.


Those of us who are well

and still employed

feel guilty

and heartbroken

and lucky—

And those feelings

haunt us

like a phantom limb.


In every war

survivors struggle

with waves of ‘why me’?

But we can’t afford to wallow.

We must turn this world upside down,

shake it to its very core,

and begin anew.

Anything less would be too little, too late.

And it’s already very, very late.

Orchard Beach

A crescent on the Sound,

Built by the WPA.

It welcomes the Bronx

On this sunny day in May.


Black, white, Latino,

Working and middle class.

Boomboxes and bagels

Together in our masks.


May 9, 2020

My Daddy is dying

(A very touching poem by my friend Nancy Hanks)

No time like the present to say so long

I know you don’t like me

I don’t like you too

But I don’t hate you


You lived a life of compromise

I am living a life of noncompliance

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to resist

I took every moment

Two old guys in an elevator

Each stands on the other side.

Behind masks our faces hide.


“This is something isn’t it? “

“How good of you to ask.

I’m sixty and I must admit

I didn’t see me in a mask.“


Could you and I have ever foreseen 

Our world consumed by Covid19?


May 3, 2020