Thursday, October 8, 2020

Pandemic Meditations: 6 Months, a Meditation by Walter Moore

Dear Reader:

It has been only a week since our last shared meditation, and of course, the pandemic continues. Now, the current president (& co.) has received his own dose of the virus, and thousands more in this country have died. 

Last night, I had a nightmare that my six-year-old was diagnosed with COVID--we rushed him to the nearest hospital, he was put on a coffin of a stretcher and wheeled away. We later met him upstairs, and he was wheeled into our view, alive, and the doctor said he was fine, and we grasped each other and him with relief, then seconds later, he died. 

I knew, in the dream, what I had read about more impoverished hospitals, and the barriers those doctors/staff/patients faced with COVID in comparison to more affluent hospitals that had, of course, better outcomes (more people leaving alive than not). And in the dream, I was so angry that we had wound up at that kind of hospital, just by luck of geography. The staff didn't wear masks (because there were none), and while they said my fever was 112 my test returned negative. 

But 112, I said. 

Yes, they said. 

And then I had to call my mother to tell her that her grandson was dead. It was 3 AM her time, and after I told her, she said, I don't believe you--you're lying--it's all a hoax!

The nightmare continued. The grief was utterly immense, intense, and exactly as it would be were it not a dream.

I guess there's one thing the pandemic can't take from me--and that's my nightly nightmares.

So, here we are, readers, friends, onlookers. We are now into our second week of October and moving deeper into the list of artists joining Pandemic Meditations, a weekly series of reflections by artists who speak to the pandemic--in whatever way, form, or style that may take.

Today, poet Walter Moore shares his.



6 Months, a Meditation

by Walter Moore

The Peacock, photo from The Corvallis Advocate

On March 20, 2020, I wrote this:


“Corona Diaries: Part X” a.k.a. “The Viral Twenties: Part 27” 

The season of spring was dark, and the sun was lonely as I walked this Oregon town dreaming of dadaists.

Squirrel’s was closed.

The Peacock: Closed.

Only me and a few skater rats and a handful of streetsleepers with face masks donned the sides of buildings; we walked in the middle of streets & red lights were laughable—but something serene about empty alleyways & no one shooting meth in the bathroom of the China Delight Bar. These were viral times . . . and I walked over the traintracks past a few tiny fraternity parties, a collection of cops at the Circle K, past empty parks and barren lots. It was almost midnight on Thursday during Finals Week in this college town—Thursday, what I call Little Friday—and hardly anyone was around. Not on campus nor downtown. A smattering of small groups of young people on a rooftop or in a neon living room, but that was all. Bars & restaurants closed, and all of the TVs were on in all of the houses.

So I walked, dreaming of those French Experimentalists and feeling the congested pain in my lungs. Twenty years of smoking things and my lungs were shot. Needed to quit, but damn if you can quit cigarettes during a crisis or national catastrophe. I couldn’t get healthy quick enough, but those cigarettes would be the last to go. Actually, joints of cannabis would be the last. After Prozac and coffee and ice cream and television.

I’ve never owned a Smart Phone, and I still drink beer.

The town was down. And I missed the bars, and I missed the people; I wanted to play pool or listen to bad renditions or hear a factually inaccurate story from a stranger, or maybe just not talk at all while observing the rest. No—there was no motion . . . there was no town, only scared & distracted individuals and small gatherings of young escape artists I could never be a part of. It would be too risky to co-mingle fluids, even if it’s exotic Oregon craft beer, with younger people during this thing. I was middle-aged with shitty lungs and a compromised immune system, The Virus having relegated me to some strange shadow status . . . so I walked at night when even fewer people were moving in this sad sparse bizarro world.

Some things did happen though . . . a man was snoring on the sidewalk with a blue sleeping bag and a mask . . . those three skater rats walked over a bridge in black t-shirt glory . . . a woman yelled out to me from a balcony . . . over a half dozen cars lined up diligently outside McDonald’s . . . those cops arrested some guy by that Circle K . . .

But of course the churches were closed, the schools were empty—the liquor stores and laundry mats and diners and hair salons all closed. My record store: Closed. My coffee shop: Closed indefinitely . . . with no community in sight. I was hoping on the side of The Best but preparing for That Worst . . . you know the hideous visions of rioting & looting and a depression worse than that Great One and the loss of millions of jobs with thousands starving and dying, or worse . . . you know the descension of the American Empire by the likes of which we had never seen before.

My heart had closed too to the betrayal of spring.

( . . . & sad dreams of the United States were drifting . . . )

At least I had cigarettes (and a dog & wife who loved me). Very lucky, believe me, I know, to be semi-healthy with a job and some cash after midnight on Little Friday.

Stay safe, everyone. Drink slowly, and try to sleep in if you can. Don’t forget to check in with your neighbors.


I love you THIS much.


 It’s now six months later, and my sweet friend Erin has asked me for a meditation on Covid.

 Well, nothing has changed. Or everything has changed. I only hope I have imagined all of it. That 2020 is my fault, my bad dream. I’ll take the blame. Put it on my back if it makes you feel better. I’ll never go to sleep again. I’ll never walk at night again.

God forgive me.

God, forgive all of us. We know what we have done. We knew.

We know what we have done.

That is the darker truth. The lighter truth or slightly less dark truth is that I went remote in late March, became a recluse, and was a nervous wreck through April. In May I got my shit together, started regularly exercising outside.

In June and July, back to reclusiveness, I was high on marijuana and drunk off beer every waking second of the day. In August, I dried out, lost my brain chemicals, drove out to the desert, and slit my wrist & lay in a bathtub—not to actually die but to feel physical pain and see my own blood mesh with water.

In September, more of my brain chemicals replenished, I still no longer smoke marijuana or cigarettes; I don’t drink alcohol. And I can barely watch the news. Yet I am healthier. I meditate and exercise daily and tell my wife I love her. My dog licks me constantly.

What do I miss about the pre-Covid days? Seeing all of you in person. Most things, really.

I love you THAT much.

And, yes, How are you? 

But make no mistake. This Trump cult feels terrifyingly real. A lot of it crippling. I fear some kind of violent revolt in November, maybe a civil war by Christmas, a sad “reconstruction” in 2021.

After that, maybe tubes in outer space . . .

God forgive us.

God . . . 

GOODBYE, don’t ask?

Dr. Walter Moore teaches in the School of Writing, Literature, and Film at Oregon State University. His book of poems, my lungs are a dive bar was released by EMP Books in 2019, and his novel The Phalanx of Houston will be released later in 2020. He lives in Corvallis, Oregon, with wife Erica and dog Lloyd. Learn more about Walter and his work at

Walter Moore, photo by Erica Fischer 
(used with permission)

❤ Read more Pandemic Meditations here: