The New Normal

(Kelly Sikkema photo)


All of last week’s grievances are First World Problems now
The nuisances of yesterday more trivial by the hour.
But Corona’s also First World, and its impact plain to see
Infecting all who cross its path, from Wuhan to Tuscany.

How we stumbled in the gap of what was then and what is now
Missing all the signs there were this plague was ours somehow
All the jokes on social media that lampooned Corona beer,
As pandemic snaked toward us and bashed us on the ear.

Now COVID-19 vocab has begun to have its way
As we make all the adjustments to our own routines of day.
“Social distancing”’s the rule, so we all must do our part
Or “exponentiality” will soon break all our hearts.

Those appointments on our phones we now must all delete
In games above that fifty we no longer can compete.
The space between each other we must all negotiate
Embracing hygiene lessons from our childhood that we hate.

“Flattening the curve,” I thought, was for the economy,
A new market adjustment, not contagion epidemiology.
But where I used to check the standings of the NHL each day
I now check global infection rates to only hope and pray.
(The first was a distraction—how I love the hockey skate—
The second is reality from which there’s no escape.)


We share this world, we’re not alone, we all must make a choice
To ‘self-monitor’ or ‘self-isolate’? There’s little to rejoice.
The only silver lining—well, bluer skies and fewer planes—
Is that working all together we recall that we’re the same.

Yes, “strange days have found us,” heroes and zeroes abound
With congrats aplenty, and lots of blame to go around
The zeroes we all know for sure, their shame is there to see:
The greed of shopping hoarders, of crisis profit opportunity.
The heroes, they’re a quiet bunch, for they seek not to gain
But to help their fellow humans in their sickness and their pain.
Frontline health care workers are the ones we owe the most
Without their sacrifice and strength, we’d all of us be toast.

Meanwhile, it’s true, disease control celebrity’s a thing
In B.C. it is Bonnie with Minister Adrian at her wing
Leading all in their response with strategies that win
Their aim is to prevent a spread before it can begin.
With all on board, they’ll slow the trend that ends in so much death
And to them we shall tip our hats until our final breath.

Grateful as Canadians are in Medicare’s finest hour
We fear for the American whose situation’s dour:
Cursed that Trump thinks from his rump, head buried in the sand
They’ve had no plan to protect the land, so now are in the dumps.

But back comes Dr. Fauci, who warned us once of AIDS
To remind the current president why he must be afraid.
In ’82 good Tony knew the problem for gay men
Was indifference by a president who clearly hated them;
Four decades on, it’s Trump and his indifference to science
Imperilling Americans regardless of alliance.

How it grates that he’s so late to grasp the need for testing;
Now all health care authorities will have no time for resting.
Up north we hold our breaths and wait, it’s all we can do about it
And reclaim an old ACT UP refrain: “We’re here. There’s fear. Get used to it.”

—March 17, 2020


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