The first global pandemic

Okay, so technically, #COVID19 not the first global pandemic, but maybe the first of this magnitude. Maybe there will be more that make the 1918 flu look well contained. So we’ll look back at this as the first. Sobering thought in a time of many sobering thoughts. But here’s a spin: collapsing economic systems offer a chance for radical reorganization based on the true, essential human and nonhuman needs.

Here’s the video of the poem, the text of which is posted here under Mar. 19:


The first global pandemic

No children sit in classrooms right now
but if you asked for a show of hands:
“how many of you like butterflies better than caterpillars?”
the vote would certainly go for flight,
for progress, for nested systems,
for systems’ increasing complexity over time.

A handful might prefer what could be held in the hand
easily, without injury, might prefer
slowness. Stick-to-me-ness.

And what would be your point, teacher?
That democracy rules?
Please stay in your chair,
but I yearn to fly, too?
Would it be: inevitability?
That ontology follows phylogeny?

Or would it be the rights of the minority:
to love that child,
mud still caking between her fingers,
who’d say, “the chrysalis,
the soup!”

for what else, before changing form, dissolves
to liquid, to hopeless disintegration,
to a sack of goo?

Perhaps that is what we are now:
reduced to a soup of encoded, inaudible
instructions from our ancestors,
all in a fragile, tentative sack
without which we are nothing.


-Karina Lutz
March 19, 2020

An Artist’s Statement

“She has something to say,” used to be a thing people said to say worth listening to. A high recommendation coming from my favorite English professor, the poet and critic Cal Bedient. But at the time, in my mid-twenties, I didn’t know what I had to say yet. So the compliment was also a challenge.

I hadn’t even remembered key parts of my childhood yet. I had been a libertarian the semester after reading JS Mills and Peace & Freedom party member the next semester, after a brush up with Marx; clearly my politics were still a bit uncertain, too. Downright break-neck.

By grad school, I was a little more clear. I offended my Objective Journalism-ist friend by saying I was “a pacifist, environmentalist, and feminist.” He scoffed: “at least you know who you are.” I didn’t scoff back, but I always wondered about people who think they don’t have opinions. Where are they in there?

Years later, I’m finally getting around to pursuing true mindfulness: to be able to have a thought and not have an opinion about it, to not judge unless truly called for. “Breathing in, I know I am breathing in.”

So many sayings later, what is there left to say about what I have to say?

My daughters’ dad, composer and multimedia artist Todd Winkler used to say, “talking about music is like dancing about architecture.” Maybe it’s also true about talking about words.

Still, I have been known to dance about architecture.


Karina will be reading from Post-Catholic Midrashim and her new book, Preliminary Visions:

  • April 8, 2020, 6 pm at Savoy Bookstore in Westerly
  • April. 11, 7 pm at Stillwater Books in Pawtucket

Preliminary Visions will be in select bookstores April 1. Call your favorite indie bookstore and let them know you’ll be looking for it–from Homebound Publications. Just one more way to support the indie bookstores, and the indie presses!

Join the #deamazonization.