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Thursday, October 01, 2020


by Buff Whitman-Bradley

Embers fly from a tree as the Glass Fire burns. St. Helena, CA, September 27, 2020. Credit: Noah Berger/AP via The Washington Post, September 30, 2020

After a couple of weeks of relief
From fire and smoke and intense heat
We are the recipients
Of a brand new Red Flag Warning
Tinkling on our phones:
Extreme temperatures. 
High winds.
Wildfire danger all over
This parched paradise.
Lucky us.
Meanwhile, the Orange Exhibitionist 
And his tiny-minded acolytes
Grow nuttier and more authoritarian
By the day
Saying now they may or may not
Support a peaceful transition
Of presidential power
Come November.
And we still have a hard time
Believing that there are any
Other than the severely disoriented
Who will give the guy their X. 
The guy whose response
To the current conflagrations
Has been as ignorant 
As a sack of ash and cinders,
Whose response 
To the great plague 
Still bedeviling us
Has been to sow disinformation,
And create chaos
By attacking scientists and science,
By failing to establish
A coherent Federal response,
By claiming that the pandemic
Is no big deal,
That it will soon vanish on its own,
Thereby assuring that the USA
With 5% of the world’s population
Has had 20-25% of COVID fatalities.
We’re #1!
And it ain’t over yet.
So here we sit gazing out the window
At the masked families
Strolling up the street,
At the trees swaying energetically
In a stiff breeze,
Emergency evacuation packs
Stacked by the front door,
Listening for sirens,
Checking the internet
For the latest inferno info,
Counting the hours until 8 A.M. tomorrow
When it is predicted
That conditions will allow us
To bugle the colors down the pole
And we might just be able
To relax our shoulders for a moment or two
As we exhale a fervent prayer
For cooler temps, buckets of rain
And a November worth writing home about.

Buff Whitman-Bradley's poems have appeared in many print and online journals. His most recent books are To Get Our Bearings in this Wheeling World and Cancer Cantata. With his wife Cynthia, he produced the award-winning documentary film Outside In and, with the MIRC film collective, made the film Por Que Venimos. His interviews with soldiers refusing to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan were made into the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. He lives in northern California. He podcasts at: .