LETTER FROM ROME: Viruses

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Greetings from Rome.

The lockdown continues as the numbers of casualties continue to rise: 80,589 cases, 10,361 recovered, 8,215 dead (including 66 priests and 1 bishop).

Compared to the Philippines that’s catastrophic but don’t rejoice – on the 1st week of February we only had three cases and no dead here in Italy. Expect and prepare for the worst. Even now it is the poor who suffer most.

For those who are already bored and have nothing to do but binge on Netflix, posting selfies & tiktok on FB and instagram, and occasionally watching online mass, try writing poems. It doesn’t have to rhyme (that’s old school) or qualify for the Palanca Awards. You can write a poem about anything – especially life under this virus lockdown. For our poets time to share your poems in social media.
Sharing with you my latest poem-in-progress which need to be polished:

Viruses
Fr. Amado L. Picardal, CSsR

There are no coffins for them.
They are buried in distant shallow graves
or burned without goodbyes.
The virus that started in Wuhan has spread all over the world
and is now in the neighborhood.
The inept rulers acted too late
and we are now on lockdown.

Maintain social distance.
Stay at home.
No problem for those who can hoard food, alcohol and toilet paper.
It’s going to be a long vacation,
bingeing on Netflix, posting selfies and tiktok on Facebook or instagram.
Or work in their room – thanks to the internet.

Meanwhile, those outside are cursed and called hard-headed,
undisciplined as they huddle shoulder to shoulder
at the police checkpoints trying to get to work
or just go home on foot.
Home is at the dump or under the bridge
or in shanties separated by flimsy walls from each other.
No panic buying for them.
They have to choose: to be infected or to starve.

The despot is clueless what to do
after allowing those from the mainland
to continue coming bringing the virus with them.
All he knows is to curse and kill and sleep,
and give press conferences at the middle of the night
giving incoherent orders.
He wants more power and money
and believes he can fight the veerus with the gun or by slapping it.
His privileged minions in congress comply.
And the body count continues to rise as doctors and nurses fall at the frontlines.

There are no coffins for them.
They are just buried in distant shallow graves
or burned without goodbyes
just like the over 30,000 murdered by the virus
that started in Davao and that spread exponentially
by those riding in tandem throughout the archipelago.
What’s a few thousand more?

We do not forget.
There is a time for reckoning.
And he cannot flee to the Middle Kingdom
to be protected by his masters.
Someday when both viruses are destroyed,
We will go out dancing in the streets and cry Never Again.

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