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Friday, November 05, 2021


by Catherine McGuire

KALISPELL, Montana — The October death by suicide of the ninth local teenager in 16 months prompted offers of counseling, training for teachers and visits from national suicide prevention experts. But it also whiplashed into partisan recriminations, as residents lashed out in public forums against the superintendent of schools for failing to impose dress codes and discipline, against parents for not securing their plentiful firearms — used in several suicides — and against the supporters of masks and other pandemic restrictions for stifling teenagers. An issue the valley might have rallied around, in another time, risked dividing it yet again. Photo: The Flathead Republican Party float drives on Main Street in Kalispell. (Tony Bynum) —The Washington Post, October 25, 2021

It started in panic, pulling in—
closed doors, empty roads,
huddling—unseen killer abroad!
Whole towns went still.
Closed doors, empty roads,
displayed by drones, at first.
Whole towns went still with
the novelty of crisis
displayed by drones, at first.
We drank in urgent news,
the novelty of crisis,
but weeks smudged together.
And we drank, as urgent news
became the same old: needles into arms.
The novelty of crisis
morphed to anger at refuseniks.
And now the same old needles into arms
became a rallying cry,
morphed to anger at refuseniks:
“How dare you endanger me?”
The same rallying cry,
spread like a virus on both sides:
“How dare you endanger me?”
revealing a comorbidity
that spread like a virus on both sides:
or like a wildfire flaring from a spark
to reveal a morbid comity:
we’re right; no sympathy for them!
And like a wildfire flaring from a spark
that falls on parched, unhealthy ground
this drought of sympathy for “them”
ravages communities more than virus did.
Self-absorption is parched, unhealthy ground.
How will we explain to grandkids that what
ravaged our towns more than virus did
was the climate that turned townsfolk into enemy?

How will we explain to grandkids that what
had us huddling—unseen killer abroad!
was the inner climate that turned townsfolk into enemy?
It starts in panic, pulling in.

Catherine McGuire is a writer and artist with a deep concern for our planet's future. She has four decades of published poetry, four poetry chapbooks, a full-length poetry book Elegy for the 21st Century (FutureCycle Press), a SF novel Lifeline, and book of short stories The Dream Hunt and Other Tales (Founders House Publishing).