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Jason C. VennerApr 6, 2020 7:35pm


We will all die. It’s a simple truth. I’ve been wrestling with it quite a bit the last few weeks since the Ohio lockdown. It seems as if our health professionals are pushing their timelines back in an ever-increasing hedge against what they probably would like to say, which is “we don’t know when this will end, and by the way, everyone will get this.” It’s not disingenuous at all. I just don’t think they have the ability or the permission to say, “make your plans, now.”

And so, I find it sort of fitting that I finally have put the finishing touches on a short poetry thread that has taken me a few years to write. I’m usually quite prolific in my writing, but this one took quite a while to formulate – more or less, to get out. Work, parenting, and a massive 14-acre property project has taken up a lot of my free time these past 4 years, but this is the natural way of things. I was meant to be a father, and I’ve allowed myself the grace to know that I am, indeed, a good one!

So, I promised that I would share my work with this blog, and to that I hold (Lord of The Rings reference, sorry). It’s just that I came to realize over the course of refining these works, and then sequencing them, that I had clearly undertaken the task of mourning the death of our second child, who was lost in the womb. I knew it was a girl. I just did. My marrow moved with knowing.

The concept of the Dandelion Man first came to me when we moved out to our property, and our first full Spring there revealed a sea of dandelions across the mowed sections of our yard. Then at night, with the curtains pulled back in our bedroom, fireflies lit up the night like I’d never seen before, as if I was looking at dendelions of our yard, just at nighttime.

Being around nature has forced me to deal with death ia different sort of way. We often feel that we can live without it, but I’d beg to differ that it is our friendly companion who walks about our days along side of us. We must, and especially now, during this pandemic, turn and look it in the face. Welcome it even into our hearts so that we can put negative energies aside and become our true, heroic selves.

Wow. I know all that sounds like a motivational speaker who’s really had one too many energy drinks. I realize that. But, this world is changing, and the world needs kind warriors, especially now. Talk to your loved ones, soon if not now, about what life might be like without you. Have the discussion, so that you can move beyond fear and get to the good, if even in making someone smile for a second during these crazy times. Divine love is something fear could never handle.

But in getting back to the work. People often read my stuff, and they’re left with a feeling much like I’ve tricked them somehow. Then they are embarrassed and ask a lot of questions. But that’s never been the aim of my art. As I begin writing, most often as I do, it’s about trying to put words to visceral images or dreams, or perhaps rhythms that I’m feeling in my body that I just can’t shake. Crazy stuff. Yup. That’s how this stuff comes to me. It’s not like I sit down and say to myself, “Jason, now it’s time to write…begin!” There are no white plumes of inspiration. Just my heart leading me down a path with words much like the feeling of holding a baby mouse in your hands.

So, as I have told my friends or family members who have been taught to figure poetry out, as if it were simply a math problem, I say, just read and contemplate the images that come to you. Nothing more. And of all the things you could be reading right now, I thank you for looking into my mind, if even for a second.

Perhaps we could interact with others in such a way? What might that be like?

Whisper Shifter LLCApr 2, 2020 6:20pm


You know that whole hourglass thing? The race against time, where you feel like every second matters. You begin utilizing time differently. Seconds are spliced into bits and pieces and then your mind does these weird things, like tricking you into thinking you’ll spontaneously combust if you don’t have the answer, or the task completed. This is how I’ve felt over the past month, waking up each morning to find the outbreak hitting the West coast first, then the East, then Cuyahoga county, then Ohio. In my profession, I’ve gone from thinking I’ve seen just about everything to simply and brutally asking, “have I done enough before this thing hits?”

Some may argue, vehemently, that I’ve failed them. Yet some thank me in the hallways for keeping the doors of my family’s business open. Opposites of a struggle where everyone feels as if any measure is too late. People rally around a common enemy when it is seen. But this? This is like a black snake in the water at night. You only become afraid after its brushed past your leg, and you realize you’re too many strokes from shore to stave your fear. We’re learning about this virus as we go, without much guidance other than to stay 6 feet away from each other and to kill any-and-all germs. Healthy people are needed to perpetuate our culture, which is, let’s face it, about making money and not actual culture.

I’ve found myself finding any excuse to sneak away, alone, so that I can read the bad news on my phone. As if the device itself would suddenly give me the one line I crave: “it’s all just a hoax.” Except it’s only more of the same, every time. More infected, more dead, no supplies. Stay at home, but you’re free to order carryout and go to work under 8-million exemptions. I’ve come home from work over the past month and sat at the dinner table, mindlessly eating my food, hoping that by doing the same thing over and over again, I’m squeezing something, anything, out of nothing.

I was out my woods the other day. Winds were 50-60 miles per hour, and this massive black cherry came down just yards ahead of me. It was a glorious way to go out for a tree, just the way it gave itself to the wind. The virus is even taking my trees, I felt. The trunk had lodged into the joint of another tree, and then squirrels soon began to run back and forth, transferring their hoards from one hiding place to the next. That fast, the tree had given itself to the forest. To life. Even in death there is a purpose. But I still didn’t want to die, and I still don’t now.

Americans like having a purpose. Having shit to do. They like their luxurious cars, and Netflix. The superiority of our preferences is sacro-sanct. Our routines and beliefs, which, though polarized, offer comfort against what lies deeply within us, and that which we keep ignoring. COVID-19 is forcing us to reckon with the dark and crawling shadows within us. I see my colleagues at work as they grapple with it. They go through the stages of grief each day. I go through the stages with them.

This can’t be real. Can it be? Is it? It is... We bargain for reassurances from one another. Then the conference room falls silent yet again until one of us says, "but seriously, this just isn't true..."

Perhaps we won’t have as much money when we come out on the other side of this thing, but then again, we may not even have our way of life. Nothing is assured. Nor are our lives. I have made friends, both religious and of other schools of thought, and they all agree to some extent, that what we are faced with presently, is a battle of unseen measure, which will force us inward before we can outwardly transcend the present. Heavy.

None of this changes the fact that this thing is coming, for us all. And so, even though I don’t like to think about it, I’ve been forced to picture that tree, and the way it shook the ground beneath me as I watched it fall. It was a beautiful sensory experience, almost as if the wind muted itself and I was able to feel it give way. All for me...a private moment with God. But it still didn't change the fact that I was scared then. And sacred now. But, whatever came of great people or things hadn’t they been scared out of their gourds?

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