It has been well over a month since I began social-distancing, and almost three weeks since Montana Governor Steve Bullock issued his March 26 order to shelter-in-place. In my effort to get through these trying times, I have taken to a daily writing routine. Some days, my writing ends up in my Quarantine Notebook, other days, it doesn’t make it past the file boundaries in my word processor. I’m not particularly concerned with where the writing ends up, as long as I adhere to the daily ritual of writing.

This morning, I decided to finish a poem I had started earlier in the week. In its first iterations, it was rough, free-formed, and lumpy. I have been considering rewriting it in a more standard form, but was unsure what form to chose. Ultimately, I settled on an Irish form I have rarely encountered, but which I enjoy called Ae Freislighe, sometimes translated as “lying down poetry”. True Ae Freislighe form employs 7-syllable lines in quatrains of unspecified number with alternating 3-syllable and 2-syllable end rhymes, though in this poem I use alternating 3-syllable end rhymes instead. In addition to the alternating rhyme scheme, Ae Freislighe traditionally employs 2-word alliterations on each line. I do not attempt to follow this stricture with much uniformity, though I do in places. Thus, I say this is a poem nearly in the Ae Freislighe form. Purists will also notice that I have abandoned strict adherence to cywddydd (the harmony of sound) and dunadh (ending the poem with the same word, phrase or line with which the poem began) both of which are characteristic of traditional Ae Freislighe form.

It should be quite obvious what I’m writing about, so I’ll leave it to the poem to continue.

Our present misery

(a poem nearly in the Ae Freislighe form)

Vainly veiled frailty
bursts of bygone reflections
honeyed human augury
profligate our affections

In casual employment
inured by group connection
pursuing fair enjoyment
unmindful of infection

A Christmastime contagion
an easterly incurrence
brought fear about privation
shortcoming of insurance

Political disorder
markets marred by turbulence
orders from the Governor
to refrain from conference

The weeks pass in confinement
As the death count multiplies
We long for some contentment
in effort to methodize

Abstemious existence
Sanitize the groceries
Don’t discount the virulence
’til the death-toll apogees

Our future is uncertain
the road ahead uneasy
Just pray there is concision
In our present misery

— by Leland Buck April 15, 2020, Missoula Montana —

In closing, I should acknowledge that today, April 15, 2020 would have been my father Bruce Buck’s 82nd birthday. He passed away 10 years ago last month, and has lately been in my thoughts. If you knew him, raise a glass to him today, and summon the recollection of his hearty cheer.