"follow the numbers" and "resistance is not futile"

follow the numbers

that curve on the graph
that damnable curve
that looks like it's
aiming at heaven
though it feels like hell
you can overlay the graphs
china, italy, spain, france
america. dear america
break it down to states
to counties and there
no matter how far you drill down
the curve is the same
on every graph
it starts flat, at zero
and for days or a couple of weeks
it stays down, lays down
then from one week to the next
starts to climb, to bend up
and my tiny county
with its unimpressive tally
looks just like all the others
i check the numbers daily
not so i can soak in more sorrow
but because i need to know
when the curve peaks and sputters
starts to slide down
she half-listens to me telling
how the numbers here and there
are rising, always rising
and i can see that she's
tuned me out, tuned out the math
the graphs, the inevitable truth
that it's going to get much worse
she needs the distance from it all
to keep her sanity
i return to my desk
to see if i read
that last number right
five million cases
and counting



resistance is not futile

on any given morning
on any given street
i would have noticed nothing
except the delay in the signal
caused by some pedestrian
who needed to get from there
to over there
but this given morning
on a particular street
i was sharply aware
that the jogger
who pushed the button
who pushed the green light
seconds further into the future
that jogger was at once
the face of ahmaud
and george and trayvon
plus an endless list
of names that have faded
from the news cycle
he was all of those
and none of them
as he crossed the street
earbuds flashing white
face showing no fear
only fierce determination
maybe that focused look
was just about how many
more steps today
or when he had to turn around
to make it to work on time
i don't know
but what i saw
maybe because
i wanted to see it
needed to see it
was one man's refusal
to cower at home
waiting for a new world order
where no second thought for safety
would ever be needed
then the light was green
and he was gone
from sight
not from mind
not from heart
from hearing
but not from hope
that he would not
be next




j.lewis is an internationally published poet, musician, psych nurse practitioner, and the editor of Verse-Virtual, an online journal and community. When he is not otherwise occupied, he is often on a kayak, exploring and photographing the waterways near his home in California. He is the author of five full length collections, plus eight chapbooks. Learn more at https://www.jlewisweb.com/books.asp. j.lewis recommends RAICES.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Monday, September 28, 2020 - 22:33