Virus Survival

Orion Swinehart in WWI Army uniform at Fort Riley, Kansas

I want to share a poem with you that concerns the historic virus known as the Spanish Flu. My grandfather, Orion Wyant Swinehart (b. 1896-d. 1983), was in the thick of that virus. My poem parallels his life during that time with the events of the H1N1 virus history. The indented stanzas of my poem involve his life. The left-margined stanzas contain snippets of the national events from a century ago as well as current statistics. I list my resources after the poem.

I’ve been encouraged with some news reports providing survival statistics. I’m especially happy when good news reaches me about my friends, acquaintances, and family. Unfortunately, the bad news of the infection and mortality rates seem to outweigh those upbeat stories. While reviewing this history in my personal life and writing the following poem I became more hopeful for the future. Maybe this poem will encourage others to reach for endurance. Please be safe, healthy, and find your happiness.

  
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The Great War and 1918 Influenza
 By Rose Klix 
  
 April 6, 1917, hesitant President Wilson led U.S. into war.
 Fort Riley, Kansas, expanded into a staging location
 and combat training site for up to 50,000 men.
             
    May 1917, 21-year-old Orion, an only child,
    nicknamed Piggy, solely ranched 443 acres.
    His father Owen crippled his hand in a harvesting machine. 
  
    A steady flow of flirty girls signed Piggy’s dance card.
    The country band rhythms hushed broadcasts about 
    The Great War torturing nations across the ocean.
  
    June 5, 1917, his military registration card
    described Orion as "short, stout, blue eyes, brown hair,
    not bald" (yet). He proudly wrote, "Single, No dependents."
  
    His mother Minnie screeched, “Demand an exemption.”
    A registrar gritted his teeth. He scowled over his glasses
    and wrote, "Father’s hand -  flimsy excuse".
  
 January 1918, Dr. Loring Miner warned a deadly viral strain 
 struck down the most robust as if by a bullet.
 Public Health neglected to analyze his Kansas report.
  
 March 4, 1918, at Camp Funston, five miles from Fort Riley, 
 a company cook from Haskell County reported feverishly sick. 
 Fast as a haystack fire, 522 men also reported critically ill.
  
    August 26, 1918, the Army assigned Orion to induct 
    troops at Fort Riley before deployment to war zones. 
    Recruits arrived every 30 days to be "run through the mill".
  
 Second Wave, Fall 1918, a more virulent strain returned to the U.S.
 Safe-distance contact and closing of schools, public gatherings, 
 and churches helped diminish the outbreaks to hundreds more deaths.
  
    November 11, 1918, Armistice Day,
    Orion couldn’t journey home yet. His tasks
    changed to processing GI discharges.
             
    January 16, 1919, Piggy’s homecoming day arrived.
    He boarded trains to reach the Elk Creek ranch
    and surprise his folks. His old collie Fanny leapt into his arms.
  
 In January 1919, a Third Wave added hundreds 
 of thousands worldwide influenza deaths. H1N1 
 microscopic enemies inhabited the world until June 1919.
  
January 31, 2021, Our infections totaled 26.2M with 441K deaths.
Grandpa survived a century ago. Social-distancing, careful hygiene,  
and mask wearing may allow his descendants to endure more eras.
 

My Resources: In writing this poem I used a family story my mother repeated to me that my grandfather was sent home from the Army due to the Spanish Flu. I also learned more from reviewing his memoir My Life Story by O.W. Swinehart written in February 1973. It was included in my mother Evelyn Mae (Swinehart) Rose’s memoir In Retrospect A Family History printed in 2004. Her book is preserved by the Rapid City Genealogical Society and saved in the Genealogy section of the Rapid City Main Public Library, South Dakota. I located records of Grandpa’s WWI registration card and an index card from the U.S. Veterans Bureau confirming his service dates.

I also learned history about the H1N1 virus and certain events by researching the following online resources:

  • CDC Disease Control Prevention article 1918 Pandemic Influenza: Three Waves
  • Wikipedia articles titled: Haskell County, Kansas; Spanish Flu; Fort Riley (Kansas); and Funston, (Kansas)
  • Kansas Historical Society articles Flu Epidemic of 1918 and Influenza Sign
  • The New York Times Daily Change article as of Jan 31, 2021

Post and poem Copyright 2021 by Rose Klix

Patriotism

PATRIOT

                                  Prayers to our maker;

                                    Allegiance to the nation;

                                    Trust in God;

                                    Religious freedom;

                                    Independent and free;

                                    Others envy;

                                    Treasures we have.

I wrote the above acrostic poem in 2002. The message still feels appropriate for 2020. What is an acrostic? If you read the first letter of each line vertically I spelled PATRIOT. I bolded to help you spot the letters. “Patriot” has been published in my religious-inspired chapbook God, My Greatest Love and also in my full collection Pastiche of Poetry, Volume II. Both are available at your favorite online outlets. God, My Greatest Love is currently on special with Amazon for $2.90 paperback and $4.99 for Kindle. The chapbook may make a nice gift to a Sunday school teacher, a favorite aunt, or a special friend.

Today more than ever I’m thinking about the patriotism in our nation. Is it stronger or weaker after the election? I don’t wish to get into the politics of who won or were the votes counted appropriately. You hear enough about that on the news channels.

Instead, I’m sharing what I pray each day. “Father, Son, Holy Ghost, Mother Mary, Angels and Spiritual Guides who are around us now and always, I pray that You will help our leaders make the best decisions for our wellbeing in accordance with Your will for the Highest Good of our nation, our inhabitants, and the world we share.”

Obviously, I’m a Christian. However, I recognize there are other religions that pray to a similarly benevolent entity with another name. If you want to change this prayer to fit your religion, I ask that you at least say something like:

“I pray that You will help our leaders make the best decisions for our wellbeing in accordance with Your will for the Highest Good of our nation, our inhabitants, and the world we share.”

Thank you for your caring spirit.

Best Wishes Always,

Rose Klix

Happy Thanksgiving!

One of my favorite Thanksgiving memories happened in 1974. My husband and our 2 sons – Scott and Erik – traveled to Rapid City, SD to my parent’s home.

The traditional meal was over for most all of us. Mom served our traditional fare – turkey with dressing, potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes with melted marshmallows, hot rolls with butter, salad, pickles, olives, some green beans, vegetables, pumpkin pie with whipped cream. You probably recognize this fare with your own traditional table.

While I helped clear the table I noticed my 2- 1/2-year-old Erik still sat at the table with a smudge of whipped cream on his nose and upper lip. He grinned from ear to ear as he stared at all the food still in front of him. Sigh after satisfied sigh escaped from his lips. He seemed to just be savoring every eyeful of such a feast.

I’m forever grateful for those 2-1/2-years when I experienced this happy-go-lucky daredevil little boy. I know he’s in heaven, but I always miss him especially this time of year. I’m also grateful that my son Scott stayed with me to watch out for me on earth while Erik is far away.

Here’s the poem I published in my Pastiche of Poetry book, Volume II

Thanksgiving 1974

Erik sat at the end

of the six-foot dining table addition.

Whipped cream was out of tongue reach

on his chubby cheek.

His two-year-old eyes

catalogued all the dishes:

roasted turkey, mashed potatoes,

cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie.

He sighed, took a deep breath,

sighed again and again.

His eyes wanted more.

His tummy was tightly packed.

Everyone else finished and left.

He wouldn’t, or couldn’t, move,

but smiled at the celebration spread,

and sighed and sighed.

I hope you will save all your favorite memories of being with family and friends this year whether you are able to be with them due to COVID-19 or if they have passed into another peaceful place.

Best Wishes!

Rose Klix

XMAS

Here’s a pseudo-haiku. It’s not exactly the traditional format, but seemed to fit this poem. With all the jingle-belling and sales, sales, sales, try to remember the “reason for the season.” Of course, my books would make great gifts. Have a Happy Holiday, however you celebrate.

Xmas

Christmas has become

just a four-letter word of

commercialism.

– by Rose Klix 1987

Published in Volume II of Pastiche of Poetry

www.RoseKlix.com

South Dakota Wind

Land refused to ground them.

Sea gusts blew first generations

from England to Connecticut.

New York ancestors braved blasts

in Patriot’s Canada, scattered,

buried children, lost connections.

Lumber drew them farther West:

Chicago wagon makers, Kenosha

carpenters. Nebraska tree farmers

hoped for new standing timber.

A final exhaled warm soul

chilled a chinook in Oelrichs.

Prairie grassland blasts blistered

Buffalo Gap near eldest son.

We inherited South Dakota

wind’s tempestuous survival.

Poet’s note: In case you didn’t know, I was born and reared in South Dakota. This poem placed first in the South Dakota State Poetry Society’s 39th Annual contest and was published in their Pasque Petals magazine, Fall 2015 edition. I’ve been eyebrows deep in my father’s genealogy. Our ancestors’ stories inspired this poem.

www.RoseKlix.com

“Fame is a Fickle Food.” Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

The above quote is attributed to Emily Dickinson. I used her thought as my poem’s theme. The following poem probably falls in the category of Ars Poetica. Some sources say writers should never write about writing. Who wrote that rule?

The South Dakota State Poetry Society (SDSPS) challenged me to write a poem about Writing. The poem won first place in their 39th Annual Contest! Thirty-nine years is a long time to be a respected poetry society. Perhaps they know a thing or two.

Like to write poetry? Go to sdstatepoetrysociety.wordpress.com They are also affiliated with the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (NFSPS). Go to www.nfsps.com to see many opportunities.

Fickle Food

“Fame is a fickle food.” – Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Yes, dear Emily,

fame is fickle.

So are our readers’ tastes.

Advertisers and

publishers tempt

us with whatever

fattens their bank accounts.

I’m a fickle writer.

My plate is always filled

with banquet offerings.

I aspire to be:

an understood poet

(a feat in itself),

a staged playwright,

a creative novelist,

a thoughtful essayist,

who also tells engaging stories.

One day I’ll realize

I cannot eat it all.

These nibbles may not fatten my income,

but I enjoy tasting.

My dessert may wait

posthumously or not at all.

Interested to learn more about Rose Klix? Visit www.Rose Klix.com

Zip Code Poem

I was challenged to write a poem about my zip code. The rules were simple – the first line contains the number of words in the first number, second line the number of words in the second number, etc. My zip code is 37918. So the first line contains three words, second line seven words, then nine words, one word and finally the last line is eight words. My poem totaled 28 words. Of course, your zip code would contain different numbers in each line.

I entered the following poem in the South Dakota Poetry Society (SDSPS) 39th Annual Poetry Contest. SDSPS is an affiliate of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (NFSPS).  My poem won First Place! Thank you, SDSPS judges. I’m grateful to the Pasque Petals editors for publishing the contest results. I love reading through all the fellow poets’ works.

The SDSP’s blog website is sdstatepoetrysociety.wordpress.com The NFSPS website and links to other affiliated state societies is http://nfsps.com Check out all the opportunities to share your work.

Here’s my zip code poem:

37918

If tall, I’d

be kind to little Paul. I’d bend,

hear child whispers in my ear, enjoy his kisses.

I’d

lift high hopes he grows kinder than me.

If you enjoyed this poem, visit www.RoseKlix.com to learn of her poetry and prose collections.

 

 

Feeding Naturally

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sunflower seed head

The following poem reminds me when we planted sunflowers in our backyard. I enjoyed their faces turning towards the sun. The stalks grew much larger than we imagined. In the fall the birds were crazy for the seeds. I decided we needed to ration throughout the season. We dried the huge seed heads in the garage and pulled them out one by one. Since then we’ve bought the black sunflower seeds for our feeders. But this hasn’t been near as much fun as watching them pull apart the seed heads.

Sunflower Seed Frenzy

by Rose Klix

A gathering of autumn bird

visitors arrived unannounced

at the cardinal’s feeding tree.

He’s learned to share —

sometimes. Picky eaters throw

millet and corn on the ground

to mourning doves and

the blue jay clean-up crew.

The summer birdfeeder emptiness

left them gleaning on their own.

Rob pours a new mixture

into the holders.

Black sunflower seeds

are all-time favorites

to create a feeding frenzy

and envy from the blocked squirrel.

Published as a 39th Annual contest winner in Pasque Petals, The Magazine of the South Dakota Poetry Society, Fall 2015, Volume 89:2

If you like Rose Klix’s poem, you might enjoy her poetry collections and published prose writing. Visit her website at www.RoseKlix.com

Are We Almost There?

by Anonymous

“Are we almost there? Are we almost there?”

said a dying girl as she drew near home.

“Are those our poplar trees that rear

their forms so high ‘gainst the heavens blue dome?”

 

Then she talked of her flowers and she thought of the wall

where the cool waters dashed over the large white stone.

And she thought it would soothe like a fairy spell

could she drink of that fount after her fever was o’er.

 

And oft did she ask “Are we almost there?”

Still her voice grew faint and her flushed cheek pale.

And they strove to soothe her with useless care

as her sighs escaped on the evening gale.

 

While yet so young and her bloom grew less

they had borne her far away to a kindlier time.

For she would not tell it was only distress,

that had gathered life’s roses in its sweet young time.

 

And she had looked where they bade her look

at many a ruin and many a shrine,

at the sculptured niche and the shady nook,

and watched from high places the ruins’ decline.

 

And in secret she sighed for a quaint spot

where she oft had played in childhood’s hour.

Though shrub or floweret marked it not,

it was dearer to her than the gayest bower.

 

They swiftly more swiftly they hurried her on.

But these anxious hearts felt a child despair.

For when the light of that eye was gone,

And the quick beats stopped, she was almost there.

 

(After the poem, my handwritten copy states, “Copied by Philena D. Baily, Lisbon, Iowa 1856” and “Susannah Z. Bassett, Linn Grove, Linn County, Iowa:” The notation after the poem states “ This piece is written about: A young lady who had visited the south for her health but finding that she hourly grew worse her friends hurried her home. On the journey she was very much exhausted and continually inquired, “Are we almost there?” She died just before reaching home. A friend who accompanied her wrote the song.” The poet friend was unidentified in this note.

I found the poem in a collection of my Aunt Delores Hart’s research. I believe my aunt copied it during her research in Linn County, Iowa while looking for her great-grandmother Elmeda Bassett’s genealogy. Elmeda had a sister named Susanna Zerna Bassett. Perhaps Susanna was the unidentified friend who wrote the poem. My copy contained fold lines and water stains. After sitting in a binder for years while we moved and moved, the writing is now difficult to read. Unfortunately, I waited too long  to find it again. My dear aunt had died several years ago so I cannot ask her more about it.. Hopefully, I’ve appropriately preserved the anonymous friend’s sentiment in this typed copy.)

Reincarnation

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Most, if not all, my life I’ve believed in reincarnation.

Here is a poem I wrote when sixteen years old.

REINCARNATION by Rose Klix

Past is present, and future came. First is second, the third’s a game.

Restoration to a new dawn, visions of what was are not gone.

Present, future, and past is done. Second is third and first is spun.

Who are you and what do you do? I’m nobody now that I’m through.

Future – now; renewal – begun. Third – infinity; past – rerun.

I am here and I didn’t fall. I’ve come back to seek my call.

– written in 1966 (reprinted from Pastiche of Poetry, Volume II and introduces Past Lives Before Now.)

Newly released prose New Age book Past Lives Before Now reports on twenty-three of my past lives recalled through dreams, déjà vu, visions, and regressions.

www.RoseKlix.com