For one blessed day, I allow myself to think people will do the right thing.

Color photo of a vaccination event in a gymnasium, St. Louis.
Color photo of a vaccination event in a gymnasium, St. Louis.
Vaccination event in St. Louis, March 2021.

I recently had the opportunity to spend some time observing people arriving to get vaccinated for the coronavirus. I volunteered, in a non-clinical role, to help out at a local large-scale effort where the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine was being administered at a recreation center in a park in a suburban area of St. Louis county.

I hesitated in writing this because I didn’t want to be seen as “virtue signaling” or humblebragging or whatever the put-down term might be. I had received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine and had been impressed by all the people at…


His use of the country’s motto just doesn’t capture his essence.

President Donald Trump reacts to something factual at a debate.

Former Twitter user Donald Trump has taken to sending old-fashioned missives to the world from “The Office of Donald J. Trump” on letterhead that bears the Great Seal of the United States. It’s the one you know well, with the bald eagle clutching in its talons the olive branches and the 13 arrows and, in its beak, a ribbon with the country’s motto, E Pluribus Unum — ”From many, one” or, more simply, “one from many.”

It’s not surprising that Trump is using a round logo that resembles the Presidential Seal, which may or may not be legal, but, putting…


The Family Values/QAnon party has some serious problems with their membership.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R, Fla.) tweet, with high school girls, from 2017.

Some men may be rightly concerned with cuckolding — of being cheated on by their wife. And when I say rightly, that was only meant to get your attention; what I mean is that a fair number of men of the right, so-called family-value conservatives, cannot seem to stop calling others “cucks.” Even before the QAnon derangement cult geared up online, Republicans were labelling their opponents pedophiles.

Cucks and pedophiles seem to weigh heavily on the minds of the right.

So, what do QAnon-ers say about Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who we learned this week has been under Department of…


On his CNN series Tucci proves himself an engaging and knowledgeable guide to the regions of Italy.

Image from CNN program shows Stanley Tucci in a gray overcoat and European-tied scarf walking down a city street at night in Italy.
Image from CNN program shows Stanley Tucci in a gray overcoat and European-tied scarf walking down a city street at night in Italy.
Image from CNN

Can actor/director/foodie Stanley Tucci carry on in the spirit of Anthony Bourdain? After watching just a few episodes of “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy,” in its first season on CNN, I’m persuaded by Tucci’s mellifluous voice, his New Yorker chutzpah (though now a denizen of London), his obvious love of food and his own cooking chops (he’s written a couple of cookbooks, one with his wife, Felicity Blunt), and his curiosity about the world.

You want your travel guide to be more than…


Ruminating over a street map of Manhattan carried by my wife’s paternal grandfather

I’d often wondered about the map of Manhattan my wife’s maternal grandfather had carried with him on a visit to the city as a young man.

Because I had so admired the old pocket map, and because we had once lived in the city ourselves — I had gone there to study acting through New York University and, a few years later, when my desire to make a career in acting had waned, we had married there, in Central Park, within sight of The Plaza Hotel — Jyll had it carefully mounted and framed as a gift to me one…


How can we encourage Republicans to do the right thing?

Young woman with mask thumbs up after getting vaccinated for coronavirus.
Young woman with mask thumbs up after getting vaccinated for coronavirus.
Pfizer second-dose (and mask) success! (Photo by author.)

Despite alleged political games playing out in various states, the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccines is going reasonably well in the United States. As of this writing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. has delivered 113 million shots of vaccine and is currently providing 2.4 million shots a day. Some 74 million (22%) have received one dose and nearly 40 million (12%) are now fully vaccinated.

As of Tuesday, because of my cardiovascular condition, I am one of them. …


After vaccinating 7% of Texans and with coronavirus variants looming, Governor Abbott declares victory.

An orange flag on a bed of rocks, with a canton of bricks, shows Texas upside down with a dangling mask, and the motto Shed on Me.
An orange flag on a bed of rocks, with a canton of bricks, shows Texas upside down with a dangling mask, and the motto Shed on Me.
Texas “Shed-on-Me” flag with brick canton. (Collage by N.P.S.)

With Governor Greg Abbott this week declaring Texas “100% open for business” during the continuing pandemic, “the Six Flags over Texas” has hoisted a seventh, the Flag of Truculent Stupidity.

As of this writing, a mere 7% of Texans have been fully vaccinated, and the state ranks 48th in getting the vaccine into people’s arms. Three known coronavirus variants — B.1.1.7 (first seen in the U.K.), B.1.351 (South Africa), and P.1 (Brazil) — are faster spreaders, likely more deadly, and making their presence known in the United States, along with new variants now emerging here.

So, is the governor celebrating


We need more people in politics who not only listen to experts but are more expert at being human beings.

Photo collage by Nora Swearingen. (Airplane detail from “Earth Rabbit,” by Catharine Magel.)

After the deadly winter storm, in how many ways are Texans missing the “deep state” right about now?

Not the bogeyman Deep State that Donald Trump, as president, incessantly complained about and worked to dismantle, but a meaningful deep state of knowledge, expertise, and civil service in government — the deep state exemplified by the likes of Alexander Vindman, Marie Yovanovich, and countless others who have worked anonymously with great dedication in various branches of government. The best and brightest, as described by President John F. Kennedy, as opposed to the sycophants and loyalists demanded by Trump.

After the tragic…


Only the strong will survive and the weak

(a certain small-city Texas mayor wrote)

will parish.” Assistance you should not seek.

The Don’t-Mess-With state messed in a freeze

was no time for politicians to bully and gloat.

But with their homegrown energy grid on its knees,

this home-spun Emerson took to Facebook to speak

upon self-reliance: “your lazy,” he did note,

a poor raising gave you a socialist streak.

The governor, Abbott, pointing at AOC,

made a claim both electrifying and rote:

he blamed it on the Green New Deal-what cheek!

(I do love that parish — evangelical spellcheck?)


Have we had enough yet with those in government who make a mockery of their oath of office?

The U.S. Senate convenes for the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump.

What can be done with members of Congress who do not take their oath of office seriously, who indeed brazenly mock it?

They should be expelled.

Whether this is politics due to ideology and personal gain, as we see in a Josh Hawley or a Ted Cruz, or politics of cowardice, in fear of your own constituents, it is a cancer that has to be excised. And as with all cancers, you have to get it all, to the margins.

During the…

Kirk Swearingen

Kirk Swearingen is a poet and an independent journalist. His work has appeared in Salon and The American Journal of Poetry.

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