SEPTEMBER 2021 ISSUE of WestVirginiaVille.com
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1) EDITORS/NOTE: Taking a look around WestVirginiaVille
2) PICTURE/SHOW: 36 Ways of Looking at Thomas WV
3) FIRST/PERSON: How COVID concerns ate my homework and (maybe) saved my life
4) RE/PRINT: ‘Almost Heaven ’Til We Get There’: Black Miners and Blair Mountain
5) READINGS: From “Corona Time Capsule” by James Cochran
6) VIDEO: Getting Kids Talking About Climate Change
The following excerpts come from a book-in-progress by James Cochran, titled “Corona Time Capsule.” James is a poet living in Charleston, West Virginia, with roots on both sides of the Ohio River — West Virginia and Ohio. He says of his book: “‘Corona Time Capsule’ is a collection of poetry and flash non-fiction — a year’s worth of writing during the pandemic. It has helped me process many events during my life in these unique times.“
Feed Them On Peaches
When I die, don’t pump my veins full of formaldehyde,
or lay my body in a watertight coffin lined with lead.
Nothing to slow my reincarnation, my “entering the flesh again”.
Our human forms are only borrowed for a time,
Coalesced from universal stardust for a while.
Like a piece of music, I’ve been composed,
And when the time comes I’ll be ready to decompose.
I’ll need a little help from my friends,
Bacteria, yeast, fungus, and worm.
Plant a peach tree on my grave
To grow and send down roots
And feast on my festering form.
I’ll be ready to pass on that N-P-K,
Nitrogen, Potassium, Phosphorous,
And one day there’ll be a big, fat, juicy,
Peach hanging on that tree,
Nourished by my elements.
A beautiful young pregnant woman
Will pick it, and eat it, and exclaim
What a delicious peach it is.
And the peach that I nourished
Will nourish her and the baby inside
And when he is born, everyone will say
“he’s got his grandpa’s ears”.
I remember playing with matches, hiding in the late summer dry grass with my friends. I can’t remember where we got the matches, or if they were a cardboard book or a little box of wooden phosphor tipped matchsticks. I remember the thrill of the forbidden, the secret, before forbidden things and secrets became spoiled and tinged with the shame and weight of adulthood.
I can feel the motion of finger guiding match along the rough sandpaper strip, matchtip igniting with a pop, sudden yellow flame travelling and blacking matchstick, held till heat touched fingertips, and then released … another, and another, and another. The aimless waste and endless time of childhood consumed and tossed away like the endless days of summer turning to fall, a wisp of rising smoke at each extinguishing.
I remember watching as a patch of dry grass turned into a pool of licking flames … the need to let it burn just a little before we put it out … a tightening of the chest and feeling of panic as we realized that the ring of fire had grown too large. No amount of stomping could put it out!
One of us must have gone running to fetch an adult. I remember the grabbing of buckets, the quick and urgent adult focus: “bring water from the creek, quick!” and eventually the fire put out, leaving behind a blackened swath perhaps the size of a small baseball field.
I remember nothing of the consequences, or the feelings or talkings-to afterward. Was there imploring, scolding, or threatening? I only know I played with matches many more times, by myself and with others, only stopping once the thrill had worn away, replaced by some dull adult sense of utility and responsibility.
Restless night of bad sleep.
2 a.m. caress of my softly snoring wife
to reassure myself that all is well.
Arm sore and I’m feeling
a bit fevered from the flu
shot i got at the drive
through Covid testing.
As I lie in bed the Spanish phrase
¡Ya basta! floats in my head.
Translates as: “Enough Already!”
4 years of Trump and 7 months of Corona
feels like a breaking point.
¡Ya basta! was used as a rallying cry
by the modern day Zapatista rebels
in Mexico, and sums up the feeling
when you have suffered and suffered
and you JUST CAN’T TAKE ANY MORE
leaving no choice but to act.
Although it can also translate as “Enough is Enough”
which as I repeat and alternate it in my mind
becomes more ambiguous. Enough = Enough.
Enough … Already … There is Already Enough.
We are already Enough…
As June Jordan wrote,
and Sweet Honey In The Rock sang,
“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”
Enough IS Enough
and we contain within us
all the seeds we need
to build a better world.
More by James Cochran
POEM: “Haymaking”: feb20.2021: We cut, rake, and bale / till the sun goes down and the dew settles on the fields, / then start again next morning once the dew burns off …