Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

May Death Pass Over–But This Time, All of Us…by Robert M. Katzman

by Robert M Katzman © April 1, 2020 (rewritten 2/27/23)

(Dedicated to a truly good and noble person, Bill Skeens, who inspired this poem)


Desolation and Isolation

Staring through a window

From a quiet dim kitchen

Stocked with food against the abyss

I see the shining steel fan spinning

I see the cedar swing moving

In the cold spring wind

I see the red brick fireplace 

Black with charred dead embers

Surrounded by logs and branches

But empty of the warmth of fire

I do so miss the people


Monday through Friday

At 8:15 am and 3:15 pm

In my little Wisconsin town

The quiet street in front of my home

Across from a buzzing middle-school

The road would be awash with 

Impatient parents and joyous children

Freed from educational jail

Free to play with their friends

No one saw the

Invisible Poison Army

Rolling in over the Horizon

A Deadly Virus on the March


Demetrious walking his dog

Stopping to talk with me

As I tended to my memorial garden

To my evaporated wife Joy

I wonder if she sits on the porch chair

Watching me

Remembering her

Are we invisible to each other?

Like all the children and their parents 

Are invisible to me now?


Sometimes I walk around nearby blocks

Picking up fallen branches from the street

Maybe Ill make another fire


There is no one to wave to

No cars drive by

The cool wind whistling in my ears

Is the only sound I have with me

No one saw the

Invisible Poison Army

Rolling in over the Horizon

A Deadly Virus on the March


I read my old books

Watch my old movies

Listen to old music

Surrounded by a museum

Of happier faces in happier times

I think about my faraway children

Frightened about when & how long?

 Until they can work again

Think of my faraway grandchildren

Making their besieged parents crazy

I call my friends

Friends call me

We cannot hold each other

We cannot comfort each other

This time


Is the essential

Missing Medicine


Too late for me to be a soldier

Defending against the unseeable

Arthritis reminding me 

Too late to be a soldier

To forget fantasies of glory

Of saving my poor country

Three hundred million

Guns in America

All the chambers empty

Of a Silver Bullet of a cure

What can we possibly use

As ammunition?


The radio goes on and on

Reporters reporting

Sheltered in their homes

Pretending they’re safe

Refrigerated trucks in New York City

Dead bodies piling up like cold logs

The old people dying

The doctors dying

The famous dying

The homeless dying

Tens of thousands of people dying

All across the globe

Numbers too numbing to comprehend

No one saw the

Invisible Poison Army

Rolling in over the Horizon

A Deadly Virus on the March


An old fairy tale in a Bible

Told a story of an oppressed People

Desperate to be free of a tyrant

Defenseless against his armies

Praying to their God to save them

Praying to an invisible force

A concept only they believed in

To save them from an earthly one

Who would be the stronger?


The story goes a Messenger Angel 

Appeared to and told their leader

To tell the captive People

To kill a lamb and spread its

 Blood across their doorposts

So the next night

When the fiery and unmerciless

Angel of Death came

Searing across the black skies

He would see the lambs’ blood 

On each home’s doorposts

And pass over those homes

But kill the firstborn 

In all others’ homes 

Rich or poor

Strong or weak

And this horrifying act

Freed those captive People

Thousands of years ago


I am a descendent of those People

Fairy tale or not

We have spread all across the Earth

Some in every country

We remain few in number 

But we endure through Time

And each Spring we celebrate 

This Ancient Biblical story

Jews call it Passover

Rich in complicated customs 

Meant to educate the children

About who they are

And where they came from


I don’t need this to be true

I can believe in my God

Without deadly fairy tales

Of red lamb’s blood

Dripping on wooden doorposts

Of an angry Angel

Slaughtering children

But a mortal writer can pray

A mortal writer

 Perhaps with soulful hands 

Can write prayers


So this I beseech Thee:

Creator of the Universe

Symbol of all that is good

And fair and beautiful

Even though now 

Everyone knows

No one saw the

Invisible Poison Army

Rolling in over the Horizon

A Deadly Virus on the March

Can You make it Passover

One more time?

But this time, God

Save everyone?


I found this poem by accident this morning
While searching for something else
600 stories, essays and poetry
Can be a challenge to organize
Then, dissolving in tears
As I am prone to do
I rewrote it
Which brought forth more tears
Because three years later
I am not the same now
As I was then
Better to continue to feel deeply
Than to be numb to tragedy
Though crying in public
Always embarrasses me
Like I am showing too much
Of my interior self
To Strangers
So, um…
Don’t be Strangers, ok?
February 27, 2023



Comment by Berna

April 1, 2020 @ 9:54 am

you are a beautiful man, dear cousin brother Robert.

I love this so much. May I read it at our Passover Seder?

it is a balm in Gilead. (and Silver Lake)

Comment by Joann Robinson

April 1, 2020 @ 10:21 am

Yourxwords bring me so much relief and hope for a better tomorrow.

Comment by janet kern

April 1, 2020 @ 10:51 am

That was a real of today’s reality.I hope you are staying positive > It’s me Jan from the ice cream parlor I was looking forward to visiting again. I will always remember what an especially nice day that was. I have found ,in my life there are certain things that have a certain feeling and that was 1 of those days. It goes on the stack of special times in my memories bank. Well its April Fools’ Day … Have a good one Best of wishes Jane

Comment by Brad Dechter

April 1, 2020 @ 11:20 am

Lambs blood? I pricked my finger and rubbed my blood on the trim for nothing?
Where the hell would I get Lambs blood nowadays?
Seriously, good prose Bob. And a great wish! (I was selfish in my approach!)
I hope you are well and staying safe!!
Who’d have thought we Baby Boomers- a lot of us- would be living in sheer terror of touching the wrong surface, including our faces?
Scary times. Please stay safe and use protection!!

Comment by Bob

April 1, 2020 @ 11:25 am

I send love and hope for your safety. You matter to me very much, Brad.

Comment by Don Larson

April 1, 2020 @ 11:38 am

Hi Bob,

Great writing for everyone!

Sherry and I are doing fine here at home.

I’ll call you soon and we’ll sit by a virtual campfire while we talk.



Comment by Bill Skeens

April 3, 2020 @ 6:13 am


Wow! Beautiful and haunting at the same time. One of your best.

Be well,
Bill Skeens

Comment by bruce

March 20, 2021 @ 7:18 am

strong writing mr. bob!

Comment by brad dechter

March 20, 2021 @ 9:58 am


Comment by berna

March 20, 2021 @ 5:11 pm

a year later, I read again. a memorial to this year of loneliness. this anniversary of pause. O Creator of the Universe, comfort all your creation. Awaken us all to to the comfort in Your creation. soften us all to feel death. to taste the blood, to observe the passover for all…. thank you Robert, for your witness. we send love from the west….

Comment by charlie newman

February 27, 2023 @ 11:51 am

Good stuff…the poem, not the forgetting!

Comment by Jim Payne

February 27, 2023 @ 7:13 pm

With retirement aging we see everything has an ending not just our own life, and we feel more than ever the sadness of losses. You have captured the Invisible Poison Army as well as Passover and our plea to go on. You exemplify human life in how you have accepted your losses and go on. Your tears say you are alive, more alive than before.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>