2020 in 3 acts by
(27 Stories)

Prompted By Pandemic Summer

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Somehow I landed pet sitting/housesitting gig

On my river

Sweetest of elder dogs

A month of easy income

And re-focus on my own

Life essence in the body

Then the world shook

With tremors at first

Then waves of fear

Terror turning toward

Both the best and worst

In us as humans

In a model of civilization

That insists on 

Too much

While ignoring

The only things that

Truly matter

The month turned to 3,

And as people struggle 

To survive

I was

Binge watching on various

Streaming bandwidths 

Of human imagination

Story telling

And avoiding the pain

I feel in the world


Now the woman is not


She is staying on in

Costa Rica

With her daughter

And letting all this go

Sort of


I will stay with her adored

Dog until the 

Visiting Vet comes to 

Put her down

I know she is ill and 

Waits for her mama

It brings up all my 

Past griefs

From leaving my river before

To holding various critters

While we ease their 


To witnessing enough

Last breaths in

The end of the human

Struggle for incarnation

To know it won’t be 

A hard death

I still spent 3 days 

Aching and trying to stifle

The ache

The knot in my chest 

Would constrict

All the way up to my throat

And I would sigh deep


And try to distract myself 

With no where to go

And only masked faces

And virtual connection

To be had

Each of those 3 long days

The ravens I give 

Peanuts to

Left me a perfect

Black feather

And this strange comfort 

In a strange time

Helped me turn back

To allow my grief

Its voice

To honor the heart

Of love that

Gave rise to such


To sense into

The tumult of 



A cricket got 

Stuck in the house

As I have felt

And he sang away

In a soothing

Natural way

A pulse of 

Understanding that 

It is where I am

With what is happening 

More keenly awake

Even as the future

Has grown quite foggy


And now the underpinnings

Of our spinning culture

Have come undone under

The knee of a bad cop

The death of ignorance

As cell phones capture

What we have denied for so


The slavery upon which our

Country was founded continues

To rape and pillage the

Lives of black people

Onto the streets, finally finally

More and more across

The globe we feel 

Ready to stop the greed

And fear that only functions

With a very few 

Tightening their grip

On the power they

Think they and only

They, are entitled to, 

Never reflecting past

The gut of seething


Misplaced on the vulnerable

In hope that the knowledge 

Of death 

And the insistence of 

Padding our pathways 

With comfort and indulgence

While others starve

And suffer

No, the contagion continues

And now we know its ugly


And now we ask the racists

To try to squelch the fear

They use to block their 


And if nothing else

Push back against

Those who use hate 

As the blunt instrument

To guard their shaky

Foundations of hierarchal


Feeding their illusions

Of certainty and security,

Which have long

Been denied to others. 

So instead of the trip

To the south of France

That was to celebrate 

My 60th year, 

We did a 3 day


First day was spa day

With sticky home 

Concoctions of 

Oatmeal, honey,

Yogurt, cinnamons

And coconut oil

And a clay wrap

That reminded me how 

My body now always 

Craves moisture

2nd day was a magic

Mushroom trip to 

Find my consciousness again

And seek the answers within

By shifting perceptions

And the soft sweet journey

Finds me facing god/goddess


Which asks me:

“Do you trust me?”





Not all the way





Day 3 is creativity day

Open and inviting


Organize my jewelry box


Go through my email




I am here



Now all of our

Pretense toward normal

Has exposed our


Raw wounds,

And unnamed avoidances

My daughter invites me

To get tested to feel

Clear, clean and able to help

With the fall of home schooling

The grands I have only 

Hugged through the facetime


For months and months,

Family zoom

Wedding zoom

Baby shower zoom

Birthday zoom

And we are joyous

At feeling what we miss

Yet without presence

In the person 

It keeps slipping away

Like all grief I observe 

My own responses on 

Any given day, and 

The responses of such 

A huge variety to this 

Sense of having the world

Moving under our feet

At times I can only

Keep my own breath going

The mad king gets

More desperate as the arrogant

Lick-spittles around him

Cling to his facade of strength

Without much care to the suffering

That builds as the economy crumbles

The hungry have nothing to lose

And the shame I feel at our country’s

Flailing failures

Small successes


Right here

In front 

Of me-

Proof of the corruption

Of the world


And yet


Unending love

Quietly waiting-

our only true gift 

We can offer 



Profile photo of January Handl January Handl

Characterizations: moving, well written


  1. Marian says:

    January, I have no words. This is perfect.

  2. Suzy says:

    January, this is beautiful! You have said it all. I teared up for the dog I don’t even know, waiting for her mama, and getting the visiting vet instead. All your other images ring so true too. Thank you for this gift.

  3. Laurie Levy says:

    January, your poem blows me away. It captures so much about what life has been like during the pandemic and political unrest of the last 4+ months. May I share a link to this?

  4. Betsy Pfau says:

    January, you cover so much ground here, so profoundly. You always move me, make me think, take me with you. Your empathy encompasses all.

  5. Very, very well done. You had me at dog care.

  6. As always January. your verse awes us.
    Bless the poets and the crickets!

  7. Ah January, thank you for expressing the poetry in what we are all feeling, the feelings within the feelings. It takes a poet (you!) to funnel the words and facts into something soft and loving without diminishing the harsh reality.

  8. January, your tempos supercharge the weight of your words and propel me, mind racing alongside you through this trilogy of days and deeds and your humanity, you make the complexity of your awareness so accessible to us, January days in this modern, unheard of, near-indescribable time thrust upon us all. You share it with us as universality, not as your private, precious property, but as a gift to help us all understand what we are all in together. I would do well to memorize every line.

    • Wow, Charles- I so appreciate your feed back and impression…I’ve started the 4th act, we shall see where it leads! Thanks for the kind words and reading my piece! We are truly in this together.❤️🙏🏼🥰🦋

  9. Looking forward to your next exploration, January. Just re-read your first three, finding this time your loving attention to “critters.,” so pivotal in this time when such cruelty stalks nearby.

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