Pandemic Sightings

NOVA FACULTY, STAFF, AND ALUMNI: In a time of social distancing and self-quarantine, stay connected to your NOVA family through their pandemic sightings.

 

 


NOVA Visions and Voices from the Pandemic

Mike Maggio is a professor of English at NOVA’s Loudoun campus.

Innominate

–Spring 2020

I.
Today, a tulip trembled in the breeze:
an urgent temptation to bloom.

II.
When I awoke,
it was to the delusion of dream.

III.
Outside, a vicious wind.
Outside, the trees. Fearful.

IV.
One moment, seclusion.
One moment, a prickly crown of memory.

V.
There’s nothing we can’t touch.
Nothing we can lay a finger on.

VI.
Sweet dove, waving from the wilderness,
Wherefore this social distancing?

VII.
In a moment of delirium,
I journeyed to my mother’s grave.

VIII.
Nothing on the horizon.
Not even a ghosting of sun.

IX.
200,000,000+sick. 200,000+ dead.
I cannot count to infinity.

X.
One dark night,
I witness my reflection taunting the reaper.

 

 


LeeAnn Thomas is professor of English at NOVA’s, Woodbridge Campus, where she has taught English composition and literature since 2009. Her poems have been published in Phoebe, So to Speak, The Washington Review, and The Northern Virginia Review. Her hypertext collaborative poem, “Weepers” is published in Mason’s new media journal, English Matters.  She has an MFA in Creative Writing/Poetry from George Mason University and a BA. in Journalism from Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. She is a native of rural New York state.

“On poetic creativity: I believe that writing, like any other artistic endeavor, is both private and public; it is a political act. Writing is difficult and time consuming which runs counter to modern society. Finding the right words that speak your truth requires patience and submission to the creative forces of language play. Each poem is like going for a walk in the woods alone without knowing your final destination but trusting the journey.”

 

 

 

 

Ode to Finches with Apologies to Mary Oliver and D.H. Lawrence

I prefer the pair of gold finches at my feeder—
the calligraphy of yellow feathers takes my breath away.

My friend prefers the vulture—
grim sentinel keeping us safe from disease.

 Mary Oliver says “we all want to be in a happy place in a poem”—
in a pandemic, we all want to be in a safe place.

A pair of vultures patrol my neighborhood from the rooftops—
I walk on the sidewalk under their protection.

 Still, the inconsequential finches fix my gaze—
and I would happily freeze to death on a bough so transfixed.

 

The Voice of Birds

“out of the cradle endlessly rocking”—Walt Whitman, Sea Drift

The voice of birds sings to me sings to you also,
so sweetly singing little poets, each one singing her song sings to me, sings to you.

She sings to her mate who answers in song, sweet love sweet love, fading and returning
in morning bliss before the day begins.

Hear the voice of birds singing to me, singing to you also, sweet love sweet love.
Before the siren screams, I step barefoot on the floor like a child leaving her bed of dreams

listening to arias of sweet love, sweet love.
A subtle wind awakens me when the newspaper lands on the lawn wrapped in its thin coat

of blue plastic, chanting pandemic statistics.
The voice of birds still singing to me sing to you also, singing sweet love sweet love lyrics,

each song a soulful elegy of morning.
Hear the voice of birds singing to me, singing to you also, sweet love sweet love.

 

“Stupidity isn’t funny”—Wislawa Szymborska, “The Century’s Decline”

The sun spells revenge:
scorched grass,
Black-eyed Susans
choking to death.

The air is breathless:
this is no time for romance or
fruity drinks with umbrella straws
(it could be the last straw).

Rhetoric rules the day
without a college level vocabulary;
we are speechless and alone
with our technology.

Civil disobedience turns
upside down;
the social distance
between love and hate conflates.

We wear the mask of Red Death
masquerading our ignorance.

 


John Kinney is a professor of ESL and Linguistics at NOVA’s Alexandria Campus. His photographs have been featured in Float Magazine, Fraction Magazine, F-Stop Magazine, Don’t Take Pictures, New Landscape Photography, The Northern Virginia Review, The Cimarron Review, Oranbeg Press, and others.

“During the pandemic, I have spent much more time with my family. My children and I have done a lot of art together, and the pieces submitted here were created with my children’s influences. This work most likely would have never been made if not for the pandemic and my children’s’ insistence to do an art project together. So, because of this, although most likely not apparent in the object itself to others, to me, these sculptures connects me to disjointed emotions: the loneliness and dread of a pandemic, and the joy and love when creating with family.”

Foam Head

FOAM HEAD

Sculpture 2020


Yeumin He is a professor of English at Northern Virginia Community College. she has published book chapters, reviews, essays, short stories, and translations. Her poetry translations appear in Oxford Anthology of Modern and Contemporary American Poetry (2nd ed.), Metamorphoses, and Ezra.

A
These Chinese poems were written early this year when Covid-19 was raging on the other side of the world. They capture the overwhelming power the virus wielded over the human world. The new year failed to usher in joy and happiness, rumors skyrocketed, and symptoms of alienation, despair, and hatred began to sicken the soul. Meanwhile, these heartfelt poems concoct what resembles a poetic potion of “parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme”; each contains one element, but together they form a seemingly impossible yet magically loving and healing antidote.

     —Thanks to my friend Hong Li for introducing these poems. With these translations, I wish that all of earth’s citizens find the remainder of 2020 hopeful.

Yuemin He

 

病毒与谣言
Coronavirus and Rumor

作者:马维驹
By Weiju Ma

谣言,与病毒同时爆发
Rumor, along with virus, is exploding.

两个不同的物种,喜好相同的环境——
Two different species, yet enjoy similar environment—

阴暗,潮湿,肮脏
Dark, damp, and filthy
A

病毒的形体和棘突,使人联想到日冕
The shape and tendrils of the virus, reminders of the stellar–corona.

无脑之人,把一顶诗意的帽子
The brainless put a poetic crown

送给了邪恶的幽灵
on this evil phantom.

A
每一株冠状病毒,都有一个伪装的壳
Each virus disguises itself in a shell.

谣言也是
Rumor is also

毒,就在破壳之后
poisonous, right at the burst of its shell.
A

我认为,之所以如此强调佩戴口罩
It dawns on me, the insistence on wearing masks

不仅在于阻塞带毒的飞沫
blocks the infectious droplets

也是为了堵住谣言
as well as rumors

.

开封日记   
End of Lockdown

作者:张执浩
By Zhihao Zhang

重复生活的危险性
The danger of repetitive life

就在于记忆容易被消磁
is easy memory loss.

我已经不记得昨天的事了
I can’t remember what happened yesterday

就像昨天不存在似的
as if it had never existed.

今天是封城的第76天
Today is the end of lockdown,

也是最后一日
the last of the 76 days.

我坐在家里就像
Sitting in my home I feel like

坐在城外的空地上
being outside the city in the open air.

阳光明艳照见我有泪水
The glaring sun reflects my tears;

我必须眯上眼睛使劲看
I have to look hard

才能依稀看见
to make out the shadow of

一个未亡人
a survivor

闪烁在地平线上的影子
flickering on the horizon

扭曲,失真,不成人形
deformed, unreal and inhuman.

当他越走越近时
When he gets closer,

我会站起身来
I shall rise

奔过去
run forward

与他相拥而泣
to share a teary embrace.

 

调笑令 《新冠》
To the Tune of Tiaoxiaoling: Coronavirus

       作者:董福永
By Fuyong Dong

新冠,
Coronavirus,

新冠,
Coronavirus,

豚鼠交班捣乱。You wreaked havoc at the turn from the Pig to the Rat year.

犹猪吃睡过年,
Like the pig, we ate and slept through the new year,

如鼠蜗居盼观。Like the rat, we burrowed in house to pray

观盼,
Pray to

观盼,
Pray to

庚子立春除患。
See the pandemic gone before spring.

 

庚子元夕
2020 New Year Eve  

作者:蒿峰
By Feng Hao

上元烟火夜,
On eve of the Lantern Festival,

南望
I gazed at the Yangtze River southward.

三镇阴霾重,
The three boroughs were covered in thick fog;

千城冷月
numerous other cities stood saddened in moonlight cold.

萧疏辞旧岁,
The old year passed in desolation,

闭户作新
and families became prisoners of their own abode.

十里空街静,
Miles and miles of empty and quiet streets;

寒灯照泪
chilling light tears in my eyes betrayed.