Compassion-20: The Disarming Virus

A poem.

When the virulence leaves and the old life returns
with its morning Starbucks, frozen DiGiornos,
bullish NASDAQ, droning CNN,
when spiky fears retract their bloody mandibles
and head back to their cloudy houses,
when the Grand Princess is fully booked
and the fans return to T-Mobile Park,
what will have been learned from the
demonstration of bodily democracy?

Well, my friend, consider Compassion-20, the gentle virus:
In Northern Italy, there’s been an outbreak of mercy,
Cardinals Of The Treasury fear it might reach the Vatican.
In China, The People’s kindness can’t be contained,
Xi and the Central Military Commission
watch helplessly as it crosses the border into Tibet.
The first carrier in Sweden has sent a handwritten card
of gratitude to his elementary school teacher.
There’s been a run on ballpoint pens;
experts warn teachers around the globe,
there’s up to a 70 percent chance they’ll be receiving mail.
In Libya and Mali the armies are burying
their UB-32 rockets and 106mm rifles and digging wells.
In Paris, the CEO of AXA Insurance has opened a shelter
and is giving away Blondo boots and Teva sandals.
Shut it down! tweets the 45th Administration.
But the latest Fox News headline is grim:
Pandemic of Grace – Lost All Sponsors.
Sean Hannity, who appears to have robust immunity,
blames the WHO for “weaponizing happiness.” 
Much the same at NBC, BBC, CBC,
“Good night and good luck,” says Carole MacNeil,
“such news cannot be construed and we’re heading off-air.
In the meantime, wave your hands frequently
and don’t touch your Facebook.”


  • Stephen T. Berg

    Stephen is a poet and writer, with a background in agriculture and social care, living in Victoria, B.C.

You just read something for free. How can a small Canadian publication offer quality, award-winning content online with no paywall?

Because of the generosity of readers like you.

Be our


Just think about Vincent van Gogh, who only sold one painting in his lifetime. How did he keep going? Because of the support of his brother, Theo. And now over 900 exceptional Vincent van Gogh paintings are famous worldwide.

You can be our Theo.

As you read this, we’re hard at work on new content. Like Vincent, we’re trying to create something unique. Hope-filled, independent journalism feels just as urgent and just as unlikely as van Gogh’s bold brushstrokes. We need readers like you who believe in this work, and who provide us with the resources to do it. Enable us to pursue stories of renewal:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *