The WOA Distancing Project is a virtual space for local Sacramento area writers and artists of all genres to share their art through Zoom readings, pictures, video, radio and this website. Below is poetry, storytelling, verse, music, much of which has come from our abrogated lives and former routines. But not all.
The physical space is now a virtual space.
Zoom042720-Nick, Jeremy, Gena, Rose Ann, Ivy, Todd
Distance by Frederick Foote
Isolation on a remote station
six feet outside my reach is
my untouchable destination
just beyond the flattening curve
ball life has pitched me
a novel virus that
reads like a
ZOOM420a-Rose Ann, Joanne, Nick, Todd, Lynette
ZOOM420b–Mary and Robin
Andy Laufer-The Owl Box
Zoom, April 13th, 2020 Reading
Invisible by Ziaeddin Torabi
We are prisoners in our homes
without locks or chains.
We are imprisoned
so we circle ourselves
until we feel dizzy
fall and die.
We are prisoners in our homes
without locks or chains
and we know
The invisible enemy
we cannot see or feel
but he can
and he is waiting there
to catch and kill us
the invisible enemy.
The End of Convenient Fictions by Mirah Lucas
Painting lips with goodbyes,
an empty mouth of soft sounds—
a slow, long howl gliding like strings of a cello
in double-stop unison—
my breath, your breath—
the dissonance of our unexpected nows.
I pour my fictions onto you, a mix
of memories, of misrememberings,
a muddled gouache on your body.
Today is the end,
as the swollen starts to rot, starts to grow
a masterpiece of ruin.
Today, we will not fold the world inside our arms,
and instead say
I love you
Joanne Leilani Carpenter
Jennifer O’Neill Pickering’s Journal
March 19th, 2020
I am trying to keep a Coronvirus journal during this trying time. I had been hearing reports of the virus during the winter in a city in China, Wuhan that I’d never heard of. The reports were scary but seemed far away. It was about this time I came down with the worst sore throat I remembered. On the second day I had a strep throat test that proved negative. For four days I could barely swallow, my glands were swollen, and I got a temperature of 102, which broke after a day. On the fifth day my sore throat had improved, and I had no fever but was weak from lack of food. I posted my symptoms on Nextdoor, the local neighborhood social media site to see if anyone else had the same symptoms. A few had and suggested several home remedies one that included whiskey. There was one person that suggested I might have the Coronvirus, though I had not been abroad or in the Bay area where a woman had developed it. I didn’t think much more about the virus or the 4-day bout with a sore throat. I couldn’t imagine the wakeup call that was coming.
On March 5th,
sister-in-law called with distress in her voice to tell me that her husband and my twin brother had had a major stroke from a blood clot to his brain. This is how I found out that there was a person in Sacramento with the virus and that person was being treated for the virus at UCD Med Center where I was headed at eight o’clock that night. On route to the NICU (neurological critical unit) and wandering in the hallway I was almost run down by a speeding gurney. My twin brother was strapped to it and I saw he was alive as I cried out his name. He had just come from surgery to remove the clot to his brain after being air lifted from a Chico Inloe Medical Center. I waited Tondering if he would make it. My husband had a bad swollen ankle caused by an infection on his calf and needed to elevate his leg and so had to leave me alone. After an hour and a half, a young woman who did not look old enough to be a doctor took me in a private room and explained the prognosis. She gently said in clinical terms “That I should not hope for much.” Parts of his brain were gone. He was hospitalized at the Med Center from March 5th, four days before our 68th birthday, on a ventilator for a week and unconscious for several days. I visited every other day, washing my hands before and after visiting. By the 7th day he was awake and alert and had pulled out the ventilator tube. By the 8th day he signed his name perfectly to a Power of Attorney form and was breathing on his own alert and answering questions, though his speech was garbled. I need to thank the medical staff at the UCD Med Center for their skills and amazing intervention and saving, my brother, Buck.
Stubbornness and determination are so important in recovery and it runs in the family. He has been moved to a skilled nursing facility still struggles with swallowing, can’t stand without assistance as these areas are compromised by the stroke causing paralysis on one side of his body. I can only see him through a window in his room. Skilled nursing centers are quarantined from outside visitation as they need to be .
Today I went to Trader Joes at 9am when it first opened. The store was rationing how many people could enter the store. As soon as one person exited another was allowed in. There was a line of people with scrubbed down disinfected carts waiting to get into the store that wrapped around the building. I started to turn around and then asked a clerk if they had a time period where just “old people could shop?” He said well you don’t look old (in all fairness I had on my mask on). I removed it and he said, “You have young eyes.” “I, am 68.” “When the next customer leaves you can go right in.”
I was never so glad to be old since I received my first retirement check.
Spring is here and there is so much rebirth and renewal everywhere it is hard to believe that we are in a pandemic and catapulted into the Great Depression of my grandparents. Unfortunately, President Trump’s tax policies (cutting taxes on the wealthiest Americans) have positioned us for more pain. He needs to reinstate taxes on the very wealthy, the 1% immediately as a “war measure.” It is the patriotic thing to do, but I haven’t heard anything about this mentioned at his moronic press conferences (excluding the science people who by the way are not practicing safe distancing)…nothing to diminish the deficit we are racking up.
I can’t sleep and it is 12:30. We are almost out of TP and PT. I can’t find bleach anywhere. I miss shopping. I saw my first Ladybug today on a leaf of a very hearty sunflower volunteer. I have never had so many volunteer sunflowers, zinnias, cosmos, and sweet peas. The calendulas and Echinacea are also, coming back, but they are annuals. I love working in the garden. My moments there are centering and comforting despite the controlled chaos around me the sun is warm on my back and the lady bugs are busy taking care of my plants.
Mike and I took a long bike ride to the river. It wasn’t too crowded. I am afraid to go to the store. There is no hand sanitizer, but a friend told us how to make our own from liquid Aloe Vera and alcohol(60% alcohol to 40% Aloe Vera).
I feel crappy today mainly because of continued shoulder pain in my right shoulder. It hurts when I breathe deeply on my right side. Also, I didn’t sleep well. I just want to stay in bed. I have allergies.
I wrestled with getting back to sleep after waking at 3am this morning.
I have been waking in the middle of the night since the days have gotten longer and before the Coronvirus outbreak. I wake and can’t get back to sleep with thoughts popping like kernels of corn in an air popper. I get up and rattle around in the kitchen wiping down the counters with disinfectant I concocted from bleach and dish soap. My husband cleaned up the kitchen last night, but I am more thorough. I toss my pea filled heating pad in the microwave to assuage the persistent pain in my shoulder, that I am afraid to get X-rayed because clinics and hospitals are full of sick people, and some with the Coronvirus. My doctor concurs. But when I take a deep breath I hurt on my right side. I remind myself I have had similar pain in the past from bursitis in a shoulder blade area, but then that was before my twin brother was recently diagnosed with suspected lung cancer.
I climb back into bed next to my husband who is snoring contentedly. I try reading a paperback real book, by Elian Hilderbrand. It is called Summer of 69 and brings back my own memories of that uncertain, violent, and hopeful period. I read a little and then pick up my IPAD and go on Twitter, a mistake. The Lt. Governor of Texas has just asked grandparents (and I guess that means those who are over 60 who don’t have grandchildren) to make the sacrifice of themselves to allow the economy (which has mostly been shut down) to return to business as usual. I tweet,” Ok why don’t you set an example for us all by being the first in line to be sacrificed.”
Tomorrow I visit my brother at the skilled nursing facility where I can talk to him 15 feet away through a crack in the window or over the phone. When I get there, he is vocal about wanting to go home and I don’t blame him. Most of the staff are millennials or of the Generation X age group. on and I fear he will develop the Coronvirus too and there won’t be a ventilator available or bed or both. I just heard on the news that this age-group has the highest incidence of the Coronavirus. I am now his Power of Attorney and jumping through hoops with Medicare and Medical which has made me a huge fan of universal healthcare.
It is 7am and there is no hope of going back to sleep. I have started my 3rd journal entry to document my experience during the Coronavirus. I will make myself go for a walk or the dog will make me take her. I will get out in the garden and putter about with the abundance of annuls all volunteers that reaffirm life. It is a beautiful spring and the sun is a comfort despite all our troubles, I will create. There are short stories that need their happy endings, I will make art
because I am an artist and this work requires solitude. I will login to Zoom and connect with other writers to share the uncertainty of our lives living in a in a pandemic. I am grateful to social media to be able to connect with others remembering my grandmother did not have such luxuries during the polio epidemic and the Spanish Flu pandemic. She’d recount stories of how they were shunned because her little brother developed polio and a notice of Quarantine was posted on their front door with crossbones
Too cheer myself up I even ordered a pretty summer dress because Mike, my husband will be taking me out to our favorite restaurant when this is over. I feel ashamed of relenting that my hair won’t be cut this month, or my pedicure will be put off and that I can’t get a massage or go away to the ocean for a few days. I feel ashamed because my brother can’t get up and leave the skilled nursing facility and that panic and suffering is the next “breaking news “on the television that seems always on in his room. I feel ashamed because there is so much suffering all over the world and the best and only thing real way I can do to help is shelter in place, help my brother, and pay my hair stylist and pedicurist, though they won’t be providing these services in April. I am not a seamstress and don’t know how to sew well but if someone will show me, I will.
Hope everyone is safe or as my friend Sue says, “6 feet or six feet under.”
A New Poem by Alexander McCall Smith, written as a response to the current situation and forwarded by Andy Laufer
|“In a time of distance”|
| The unexpected always happens in the way|
The unexpected has always occurred:
While we are doing something else,
While we are thinking of altogether
Different things — matters that events
Then show to be every bit as unimportant
As our human concerns so often are;
And then, with the unexpected upon us,
We look at one another with a sort of surprise;
How could things possibly turn out this way
When we are so competent, so pleased
With the elaborate systems we’ve created —
Networks and satellites, intelligent machines,
Pills for every eventuality — except this one?
And so we turn again to face one another
And discover those things
We had almost forgotten,
But that, mercifully, are still there:
Love and friendship, not just for those
To whom we are closest, but also for those
Whom we do not know and of whom
Perhaps we have in the past been frightened;
The words brother and sister, powerful still,
Are brought out, dusted down,
Found to be still capable of expressing
What we feel for others, that precise concern;
Joined together in adversity
We discover things we had put aside:
Old board games with obscure rules,
Books we had been meaning to read,
Letters we had intended to write,
Things we had thought we might say
But for which we never found the time;
And from these discoveries of self, of time,
There comes a new realization
That we have been in too much of hurry,
That we have misused our fragile world,
That we have forgotten the claims of others
Who have been left behind;
We find that out in our seclusion,
In our silence; we commit ourselves afresh,
We look for a few bars of song
That we used to sing together,
A long time ago; we give what we can,
We wait, knowing that when this is over
A lot of us — not all perhaps — but most,
Will be slightly different people,
And our world, though diminished,
Will be much bigger, its beauty revealed afresh.
Frederick Foote Contributions
Complexity breeds arrogance and self-centered reflection
that re-enforce the bias that complex creatures are the apex predators
Viruses invisible to the naked eye slay that conceit with a wicked blade
that cuts to the bone and unseats complexity from her throne
crumbles economic kingdoms, disrupts domestic tranquility,
soils every sanctuary, darkens every future courtesy of
“a nucleic acid molecule in a protein coat”
A simple creature indeed
Rose Ann Goodwin
Here’s the July 27th, 2019 Featured Reading by Bethanie Humphreys and Heather Judy, Rene Marie and Jeanine StevensBethanie Humphreys Heather Judy Renee Marie Jeanine Stevens
Here are the Open Mic’ers from July 27th, 2019 Writers On the Air.
Aeisha, Carol Lynn, Gena, Jennifer, Laura, Lynette, Mike, Shannon, Susan, Tj, Tom, Todd, VickiPart 1 Aeisha carol lynn gena Jennifer laura lynette Part 2 mike Shannon susan tj tom todd vicki
Bio: For more information about our July Featured Readers , Read below.
Bethanie Humphreys is a writer, editor, and mixed-media visual artist. Her poetry, short fiction, and art have appeared in various publications in the U.S. and U.K. including: Artemis, Nonbinary Review, The Found Poetry Review, American River Review, and Sacramento Voices. She serves as board member for the Sacramento Poetry Center and co-curator for the SPC Art Gallery. She was Editor-in-Chief of the 2015 American River Review, and is currently Associate Editor for Tule Review.
She is a Squaw Valley Community of Writers Poetry Workshop Alumni, has a Bachelors in Spanish from CSU, Sacramento, and a Creative Writing Certificate in Literary Publishing from American River College. She is also a California Certified Naturalist, and certified in the Amherst Writer’s and Artists Method.
Her chapbook, Dendrochronology, was published by Finishing Line Press in June, 2019, and is available for $14.99.
Bethanie’s Sample Poem:
I think I dreamed we were birds
Yardstick ruler strapped
across our shoulders
feathers dyed jewel-tones
taped in streamer-fashion
that no longer matter
Heather Judy is a poet and artist living in Sacramento. She earned her MFA in Poetry from Mills College in 2009. Before attending Mills, she received her BA in English from CSU, Sacramento where she won the 2005 Bazzanella Award for first place in poetry. Her poems have appeared in Tule Review, The California Quarterly, Flatmancrooked’s Thin Volume of Contemporary Poetry, and others. She is a Sacramento Poetry Center board member, an Associate Editor and Art Director for Tule Review, and co-curates for the Sacramento Poetry Center Art Gallery. Her chapbook, Inosculation, was a semi-finalist for the CutBank Chapbook Contest in 2018.
Heather’s Sample Poem:
They danced in the street, bare breastbones, crouching,
aprons nestled low. She held her lover, wing
lifted, right arm round lover’s waist, palm resting in
her smallness. They danced in blood, a banner hung
behind them: Puedo bailar. Black hightops sung
against dove stone, sandals treading hymns. Young
heads bowed, eyes, closed, brows together, no sin
between them. Nectar drips and shifts, bodies glint.
They dance in sheets, bare breasts, bones clinging,
open, nestled low, lovers folding into wings.
Jeanine Stevens is the author of Limberlost and Inheritor (Future Cycle Press) and Sailing on Milkweed (Cherry Grove Collections). Her latest chapbook, Citadels, was published by Folded Word Press, 2019. Winner of the MacGuffin Poet Hunt, The Ekphrasis Prize, Mendocino Coast Writer’s Conference, and WOMR Cape Cod Community Radio National Poetry Award. Jeanine studied poetry at U.C. Davis and California State University, Sacramento. Poems have been published in Evansville Review, Forge, Chiron Review, Pearl, Stoneboat, Connecticut River Review, Verse Wisconsin, The Curator and North Dakota Quarterly. She also enjoys Romanian folk dance and working with collage. Jeanine is Professor Emeritus at American River College having taughtAnthropology, Psychology and Women’s Studies for thirty two years.
Jeanine’s Sample Poem:
She is the brick wall that defines her,
the thin arms under the sari.
She is the madras pattern
of marigold orange and olive green.
She is the littered ground,
the ground scattered with bricks and refuse.
One brick is her table. She entertains
simply. There are no spoons,
only hands to mix grains and river water.
The street is her open window,
her furniture, the battered chair tipped
on its side, a cupboard of sorts for bent pans.
She is the smoke stained wall
and crouches under a large sign
in English, “Choice Shampoo.”
She is the big toe that grips the ground.
Nearby, are bits of denim,
foreign labels, and one bright, upright yellow pear.
Back straight, she does not slouch,
looks directly at the camera in a half smile.
She is the pierced diamond
carried in the side of her nose
and the red spice she holds to mix
with her evening meal. She is
the memory of golden flocks on hilly flanks,
the darkness of things being burnt,
surrounded by things already burnt.
Her only book, a book of matches,
her tablet: the wall, her pen: bits of charcoal.
She doesn’t worry if her seeds
are not planted by the spring equinox.
~after a photograph, National Geographic
Bethanie will have copies of her new book-Dendrochronology
Members of Writers On the Air Meetup are encouraged to RSVP (Yes or No).
Please go to writersontheair.com for more information.
Recordings made during the open mic are played on accesssacramento.org/KUBU 96.5 LP-FM radio on Mondays, 7am-8am.
The Writers On the Air Show podcast can be heard at Itunes/IConnect Podcast, either at the website or as a subscriber.
Writers On the Air started off the New Year with a good reading of five provocative stories and a host of new and experienced open micer’s. Below is the Open Mic reading on January 26th. Readers are in alphabetical order. Enjoy!
Carol Lynn, Charles, Faith, Jacki, Joanne, Mike
Nick, Pat s., Renee, Rose Ann, Susan, Tom, Vicki