“It's made us realize how much we have in common, and how essential our individual actions are to each other.”
Jason Heroux shares his pandemic poem.
In the spring of 2020 Kingston Poet Laureate Jason Heroux and the City of Kingston started a project entitled Poetry in the Time of a Pandemic. Kingston poets were commissioned to write an original poem capturing the local human spirit as people went through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jason contributed “All People", which was posted to the KFPL Poetry Blackboard in May. He invited four more local poets – Bruce Kauffman, Eric Folsom, Sadiqa de Meijer and Alyssa Cooper – to join him, with their contributions to be released on the first of each month from June through September.
by Jason Heroux
All people wonder what one
plus one equals now that numbers
aren't allowed to gather together.
The letters from A to Z are working
from home. The alphabet is closed.
The morning news announces more
sick, more dead. You are your hand.
I am mine, and it's hard not to join
in applause or prayer, it's hard
for us to live alone in our pockets.
At night the light grows quieter,
saving its strength for another day.
Empty street, where are you going,
why? We are in this together. Stay.
Jason wrote: "The original inspiration behind this poem began when I learned the root meaning of the word 'pandemic.' According to Vocabulary.com: “The word comes from ancient Greek — pan (meaning “all") and demos (meaning “people").” On a general everyday level, the pandemic has separated us through quarantine and self-isolation, but on a deeper level it's also strengthened our connections. It's made us realize how much we have in common, and how essential our individual actions are to each other. All People.”
"I felt it was important for the poem to have more questions than answers, more uncertainty than sureness, because no one really knows what's going on these days. The final word of the poem is “stay.” And it's a word with many meanings: to spend time in a place, or situation, of course, and to come to a stop, or standstill. But it also means to support or prop up, and the power of endurance. All of those definitions apply to us now.”