It has been over a year since I’ve posted here, but I can’t apologize for this. We’ve all been trying very hard to survive the impossible and that sort of thing takes energy and time and hope. I haven’t felt very hopeful in a long time, until today. What changed? I read a book. This book taught me that it’s okay to finally admit some things to myself that I’d been dodging for years. This is why books are so important: they speak to our hearts and minds and give us permission to be human.
Anyway, I continue to write, of course. My latest Medium essay tackles racism from my point of view: Dear nice white people. I’m attempting to get a science fiction story published. If I can’t, I’ll self-publish it because I am extremely proud of this story and I want people to read it. And yes, I am still writing novels as Erin M. Leaf. I am in the midst of finishing a bonus fifth novel in my Bad Oak Boys series, and I’m excited that I’ve been able to revisit this world. It’s yummy escapist fun, and I need to write that right now.
I’m still dedicated to Sleepy Maple, my delightful vintage treasure store, full of upcycled vintage treasure, vintage jewelry, and some delightful curios. I have handmade jewelry and old lamps and teacups and hand sewn masks that make amazing gifts. If you’re curious, please check it out.
I continue to read submissions for Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY. This poetry project of mine has been one of the highlights of my life. I am always grateful for the poems people send me, and in awe of the beauty and truth poets manage to create in the worst of times.
Unfortunately, things in my life are still on a bit of a pause right now. Why? This year alone I’ve tackled face surgery for skin cancer, ankle surgery for a hole in my bone and plantar fasciitis (crutches suck so bad), tendonitis in both elbows and one wrist plus a fun side of nerve compression, persistent severe IBS and gastroparesis, exhaustion from perimenopause insomnia, reactive airway disease from allergies, the death of a years-long friendship, depression and panic attacks, and isolation from multiple quarantines all during a global pandemic. Fortunately, I have not acquired COVID to add to my collection of medical drama, however, it’s only April and I am so tired. I recognize and am so grateful for my husband and two sons who have taken care of me through all of this.
Anyway, here, have a poem. It first appeared in Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY on November 29, 2020. I wrote this one back in 2018. It is remarkably prescient.
—after “The Triumph of Death” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
Even the angels fled when Death triumphed.
Humanity died in boxes and oceans while the skies burned—
so long ago now, but still strangely familiar.
Only the birds enjoyed the view,
fluttering eagerly above the suffering.
The old masters were never wrong—
Auden knew this. Bruegel, too, understood
our worry: that all wars are plagues.
That plagues are endemic to the human condition.
And when the dead rise, there are those
who don’t even notice. Sometimes the music plays
while fools and false gods pretend nothing is wrong.
The emperor’s clothes are invisible.
His closets contain skeletons.
The apocalypse has already come:
armies of the dead set our battleships aflame,
and we think it’s normal—
seasonal wildfires. To be expected.
Like Hawaii’s Kilauea or autumn in Los Angeles.
New York seventeen years ago.
Someday our children will pray
for us, thinking that’s all that’s needed.
Someday our skeletons will be all that’s left.
And perhaps the world is better off
with bones. Perhaps the bones
are better off with no mind
to confuse the issue—
The zombies are coming.
No, the zombies have already come.
The zombies have eaten the world
while we stare at paintings and websites,
marveling at the worst of times.
The future is theirs.