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Syndic Literary Journal


Seven Steps


 Barbara Rhine

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1. Despite your anarchistic tendencies, the requirements actually are for the safety of all. Hard as it is to stay at home and skip the picnics and in-person birthday parties, it’s better than dying. Or having the hospitals overrun. Or causing a spread that means other people die. Follow the rules.

2. Decide that the family you are stuck with at this moment is pretty damned good. Give each other a lot of space for individual reactions. Still, don’t tolerate any uptick in violence in the home.

3. A variation on past Corona viruses, Covid 19 has emerged with the added characteristic of being highly contagious. If there is an anthropomorphic God it’s a sign of His mean nature. Whatever. Don’t blame yourself.

4. There is a combination of malevolence and incompetence at the top. Or is it the other way around? The blithe ignorance of the threat for that crucial month and a half from January to mid-February, a delay which has already cost a lot of lives, may be even more damaging right now than the racism involved in labeling it the “Chinese virus,” or the narcissism of referring everything to his own re-election campaign. Then there’s the fact that if you follow
the TV news, you are stuck every single day with seeing this fat guy with the orange hair and the “tanned” face. Ugh. Blame Trump.

5. Demand that stimulus money be used to create new jobs to insulate low-income communities, patch leaks in gas lines, shore up the renewable energy industry. These are cost-effective ways to have a real impact on CO2 emissions. If we could bring this level of effort to that other existential threat to our species we would actually get somewhere in staving off its worst effects. Even in the midst of this, don’t forget the Climate Crisis.

6. The fossil fuel industry is the most profitable and the most heavily subsidized industry in history. RESIST any efforts to bail it out.

7. Notice the clear air, the birds, the insistent spring. Be aware of your

Gentle companion.
Quiet friend who insists—

Take me, follow
Me, and I will
Lead you to the

Swig of
Air that coats the
Lips and gums, the
Nostrils, throat,
Esophagus, and

Arch, delicate and
Hidden as the
In turns to out, the
Out to in.

Ripples onto a lake’s
Draw in,
Slide onto the
Flow out,

River steady and
Smooth that
Soughs by with its silky
Evening and
Morning and

Fisher’s net, thrown
Out and
Gathered, then
Cast again, through an
Immensity of
Hours, days, months, years.

Slender course that
Wanders through
Suffering and

Loop that
Spirals in both
Time and

Path that
Swells and
Dwindles, narrows and
Fades, then
Closes into whatever
Endures that is not
This life.


Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
History of Syndic
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