two poems for the time we are in

butterflies drawing.JPG

By Joke Debaere

the internet is bursting with heartfelt advice

how to entertain your children indoors

how to grow veggies

how not to worry

how to sing from your balcony

how to be productive at home (set a routine, alarms, put neat clothes on)


& though inspiring too, nowhere I read:

“cry. this is a sad, sad chapter of our lives.”


cry for the nurse that dies,

cry for the ones without insurance, being left out

cry for the world leader, caught up in narcissism

cry for the cynical ones who don’t believe there are also good people at the top

cry for the patients, not able to say their final goodbye

cry for the child that will one day need to make sense of all this grown up drama

cry for the ninety year old grandma, offering her ventilator to the younger ones who need it more

cry for us, who came too close to wildlife nature, the caves that we should have left unharmed

cry for death, always too soon, too close, too hard, too real for our dreamy longings


& yes, for sure there’s hope

more than our eyes can meet right now

but sometimes those fragile flowers of that four letter word

need the gravity of some sadness too


not the type that we get drowned in

just the layer that is there, in all of us


some tears, before we go outside again

and see: the butterflies continue

yes, today is a good day for butterflies

for ants. for basil on the windowsill.

for pigeons. yellow weeds.

for baby laughter and that favorite tune


so get up, I tell myself, and do that little bit your hands can reach today

get up, and know the small bits do add up

get up, and whisper that one song of hope

as soon as all those tears have dried






we all, all of life

started with cells

we all, all of life

is cellular – built from cells

we are conceived – each and everyone of us

as cells, in the wombs of all mothers

we, each organism

is a collaboration of cells, a cellular collective

when we die, each and every cell of our beings, they all die together


we, humans, in a prick of time,

thought otherwise

we thought that we are not cellular bound

and virulently we took hold of the earth,

took it on as our property


and with virucidal celerity

our souls soared

our numbers climbed exponentially

our ideas went celestial


seldom did we look behind

seldom did we ventured down

seldom did we switch off our lights


even as, under all this self-seeking selflessness

mother earth developed a rising fever, threatening our very existence

with upheavals unimagined

even as our collaborating cells turned individualistic again, proliferating without end, cancering many of us

even as this epoch of upward mobility never brought us any peace or stability

we kept going


helplessly we looped around the flame of our sizzling successes


it took a virus, a tiny fleshy, organistic virus

able to penetrate where it matters most: our cells

able to proliferate faster than all of our nimble systems

to bring our grinding world to a screeching halt


no God

no Market

no Mind


could stand in its way.


rip open deep and dark forests – the lungs of the earth

melt the ice caps and eat meals flown in from all the world’s busy corners

sooner or later

you will be pricked

a virus will lock you down


defy death, think that the greatest happiness is to live forever:

a virus will remind you

defy earth, think that all our needs can be met by boundless growth:

a virus will remind you

defy responsibility, think that redemption can come by faith alone:

a virus will remind you


we are worth no more than each and every single cell


we cannot go it alone

we are a togetherness

and together alone we can resist this

just as we are part of a living, planetary and palpable togetherness


so we close the temples

because in fact, soul and body are one

so we shut the markets

because in fact, we are no special organism

so we enter the unknown

because in fact, what we messed up, only we can fix


yes, we can stop this virus

only if we heed what it is trying to tell us


that we should not live beyond

that we cannot know the Beyond and that it cannot know us

that we should sense our souls as they live in each and every one of our cells

being the heaviness that keeps them a part of the whole

the intactness that will protect them well from now on


that we should celebrate our collective human story

– oceans deep, burnt by the sun –

and to wit, to feel, to rest with:


that our life, and our death

is here

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