About Bonnie McCune

Bonnie is a Denver-based author whose interest in writing led to her career in nonprofits doing public and community relations and marketing. She’s worked for libraries, directed a small arts organization and managed Denver's beautification program. Simultaneously, she’s been a free lance writer with publications in local, regional, and specialty publications for news and features. Her main interest now is fiction writing, and her pieces have won several awards.

COLORADO ELECTIONS 2020 (GUIDES, ADVICE)

“I fretted myself about the mistakes of government, like other people; but finding myself every day grow more angry, and the government growing no better, I left it to mend itself.” Oliver Goldsmith

This frequently is my emotional reaction to politicians, politics, and elections. Yet can we sit idly by and not make our opinions known when we fail to vote? I know the ballots are long, the claims contradictory, and the issues confusing. But a number of resources help us to make sense of them.

One of the best known is the League of Women Voters’ bi-partisan, well-reasoned, even-handed approach. Visit https://www.vote411.org/personalized-voting-info, and you access Colorado and Denver info.

In his wisdom, Oliver Goldsmith also waxed eloquent on laws in general:
“The laws govern the poor, and the rich govern the law.”

Don’t get too depressed. From local news source the Denverite, another look at the Denver ballot issues, no candidates:
https://denverite.com/2020/10/12/how-to-put-your-part-of-this-election-behind-you-immediately-a-denverite-ballot-guide/

On the other hand, you may want some guidance about the people actually running. Here’s the Denver Post’s suggestions: https://www.denverpost.com/opinion/endorsements/

Finally, a positive note about humanity and the election process: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” Oscar Wilde

Colorado Public Radio has a handy guide to nearly everything, candidates, issues, amendments. It also includes the “Blue Book” from the State Legislative Council, that attempts to evaluate the fiscal impact of measures. https://www.cpr.org/2020/10/12/vg-2020-colorado-voter-guide-november-election/

WHEN TO ADMIT YOU’RE GETTING OLD

Always wear a helmet!

I’ve always wondered how people know they’re old. Most of my friends continue to deny the state and despise the terms “older adult,” “senior,” “fragile-frail,” “aging.” People who have time and interest to study such things decided “old” seems to be further off the older you get. When interviewed, of those in the 75+ category, only 35% say they “feel old.”

I fell into that category until recently, when I attempted a ten-mile bike ride from Frisco to Breckenridge in Colorado. We’d visited the popular destinations frequently, although the last time was three or four years ago. Each time we’d bike to at least one distant destination. Frisco’s altitude is just over 9000 feet, with Breckenridge about 500 feet higher; and since we life in Denver (the Mile High City), I thought I was set to go.

Although I achieved my goal, I took twice the amount of time and my heart was pounding much of the trip, something that never had occurred before. In fact, my respiration rate bordered on breathless. I wound up hopping on the free bus shuttle for the return trip, with the help of the nice driver who boosted my bike into the carrier (I’m too short to do this).

Do I blame the covid lockdown? No, for I’ve actually increased my aerobic exercising over the months. Could the cause be my mysterious autoimmune disease? Maybe, although I don’t get breathless at any other time. Should I, horrors!, admit age is creeping up on me, altitude affects me more, and I’m not as chipper. . .or young. . .as I used to be? This seems the most likely, despite my emotional recoil at the thought.

My reaction to disturbing ideas, honed over the years, is to attempt to correct my weakness, physical or otherwise. So I’ve pulled out a small tablet, tied on a pen, and resolved to go up and down my one flight of stairs an ever-increasing number of times daily. Right now, I’m at twice, but I only started today.

My journals, notes, and notebooks are crammed full of good resolutions and to-do lists to achieve goals. I remember even in high school I’d promise faithfully each summer to study my French regularly for half-an-hour daily. In college, the registers more frequently were lists of clothes to wear and buy. Young adulthood, the records tended toward money as I saved for a European stay, then to buy needed supplies for babies. Back in the job market, the registers included positions for which I was qualified and where I’d submitted applications.

I’ll see what shakes out. On the positive side, my years have taught me not to demand perfection because I’ll always be disappointed. I’m not terribly optimistic I’ll return to the respiration level of a forty-year-old. As my physical therapist tells me, “You’re hoping to stay stable or improve a bit, not set records.” I be satisfied to aim for a yeoman’s effort, whatever that is. (I found out! Click on link for info.) And I suppose I’ll be forced to admit I’m getting old.

THE NEW AGE OF MOB RULE

Compare contemporary times to the French Revolution. No similarities? Think again. Mob rule held sway. It’s been estimated that over 40,000 aristos were murdered in the name of justice. We shake our heads in wonder that people were so susceptible to a reign of terror. But are we really so different in this time of pandemic?

Nowadays the gauntlet initially is thrown down by calling someone racist or accusing them of violating pandemic orders or hinting at misconduct. The mob attacks online, cheered on by the media which spreads rumors, creates straw polls to encourage people to vote on misleading, even malevolent suggestions. How many viewers are in favor of this-or-that? Who thinks such-and-such is wrong? This is known as “mob mentality.”

Consequences are mind-boggling. People have lost jobs, felt they had to resign, been driven to drop off social media, even commit suicide when they’ve done nothing wrong. Men have been dogged with sexual misconduct accusations. People get labeled “racist” when all they’ve done is make a statement or ask a question. Dueling rallies clash—pro police, anti police, whatever.

If you’re like me, you pride yourself on being an individual. You may not want to admit the influence of mass culture on you, but individualistic people are just as susceptible to mob rule as different personalities. Also strangely enough, what people claim they value or believe may be completely opposite from how they act.

We assert nowadays that everyone’s opinion is valued. In truth, we can state almost any opinion, but to gain visibility or support, we have to agree with the pronouncement of the primary advocate. Otherwise you’re threatened with exclusion or even violence. Look at the Black Lives Matter demonstrations. The “pro” people pulled in lots of advocates. Then the “anti” folks stormed in on the opposite side, leading to lots of angry demonstrators, exciting visuals with battling crowds, fires, shouts and screams; along with hour after hour of newscasters just as hysterical as they shrieked blow-by-blow accounts. And, unfortunately, deaths.

Long ago, anthropologist Gustave le Bon said a crowd of demonstrators was greater than the sum of the individuals in it. It seems to have an existence, a group “consciousness.” He believed that the individuals become submerged in the crowd and lose their sense of individual responsibility under cover of the anonymity.
I find myself in the strange position of opposing these frantic, frenetic furies despite my passionate defense of individualism. They seem not infrequently to tip from mere expression to belligerent demands and attempts to control everyone else’s beliefs and behavior. I wonder if we get a secondhand high from the roiling emotions and expressions that make our blood boil and put our brain on alert. But I wish we’d give it up. Let’s step back and demonstrate our true commitment to differing opinions by welcoming everyone’s without an instant rush to judgment.

ENVISIONING THE FUTURE AS A DYSTOPIAN NOVEL

As a writer, I depend on my imagination (and books and discussions and movies and articles) to come up with ideas for plot, characters and descriptions. This leads to some interesting searches to support a concept. I’m currently working on a science fiction novel set 200 years in the future. You can guess what a challenge it is for someone who never enjoyed the sciences to sketch out a logical and plausible story.

Not now. We seem to be living in an actual dystopian novel. Certainly the stories we hear via social media and actual media make it seem so. All are talking in superlatives despite our true perspective of ants in an ant hill being stirred by a big stick. From the viewpoint of the ant, total chaos reigns! End of the world conditions are looming! Phrasing for estimates and projections exist only in extremes, such as “as many as (insert scary statistics),” or “skyrocketing estimates.”

This situation is great for me as a writer. In the early days of our lockdown, streets and businesses were deserted, as if an alien force had zipped all humans out of sight. Now when I jog, people jerk masks into place and cross the road to avoid me, illustrating what an outcaste might experience. The prevalence of masks helps me imagine strange, distorted space travelers behind them. Even government incompetence, infighting and brangling serve useful purposes because my novel has political and social themes.

The truth, however, is that we’re stunned by our circumstances. We’re so accustomed to American privilege, we can’t believe we have no control over COVID and that we, like every other living thing, can die. A woman I met recently, an immigrant from Asia, used the term “entitled,” thinking we’re so special that we deserve privileges or special treatment. Perhaps that’s the reason we all sling accusations in every direction, desperately trying to find someone or something to blame: the Chinese, non-maskers, old people, drug companies, scientists, elected officials. I wish we’d wise up and realize everyone’s in this situation together and life is just life.

BILINGUAL POET LAUNCHES WEBSITE WITH RESOURCES FOR ALL

(Guest blog by Dr. Ricardo J. Bogaert-Álvarez

I am an engineer and poet with thirty years of experience writing, publishing and teaching poetry. I’d like to introduce to you my bilingual website, . In my website you’ll find several sections: 1) poems, 2) haiku, 3) lessons, 4) publications, 5) blog and 6) about (a short biography). 

In the Poems section I show several of my typical poems. Their themes range from the romantic to the political, without forgetting the erotic. Each poem shows the English and Spanish versions. In the Haiku section you’ll find several haiku and senryu I have composed with additional notes about their origins and themes. In the near future I’ll also present articles about haiku and interesting haiku from other poets.

In the Lessons section, I am presenting articles about poetic themes and forms. For example, I’m showing now the way Spanish poets count the number of syllables in their lines for their formal poems. If you ever want to properly study formal Spanish poetry, this information nugget will be very useful to you. In the future I may introduce and discuss poetic works of other poets, especially Dominicans.

In the Publications section, you’ll find the introduction to one of my four poetry books. This month I’m showing the introduction to my romantic chapbook “Not Written in the Stars.” As a matter of fact, you can obtain a free electronic copy of this book by reading this section. In the Blog you can participate with your comments.

SLOAN’S LAKE GEESE(1)
Los Gansos del Lago (2) (Traducción)
1
Lake geese, not afraid
of cars nor snow nor people
such intrepid souls
2
Intrépidos gansos del lago
ni de carros, nieve o gente
tienen miedo

Doctor Ricardo J. Bogaert-Álvarez is a Dominican-American chemical engineer and poet. He was born in Santiago, Dominican Republic and grew up in a hacienda. After he obtained his B.S. at the PCUMM in Santiago and then obtained his chemical engineering masters and PhD at the University of Delaware. He has lived in the United States since 1981 and resides in Denver with his beloved wife Laura. He has published poems in the “El Sol” newspaper, “The New Press,” the Horizons” anthology and the “American Institute of Chemical Engineers” supplement among other publications.

He has published three poetry books: 1) “The Samurai Poet,” 2) “The Mask Behind My Face” (which is available in Amazon Kindle) and more recently “The Dance of the Phoenix.” In the latter book, each poem is in Spanish and English. He presented “The Dance of the Phoenix” in five cities of Colorado and in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2019. This was followed by a tour in Dominican Republic where he presented this book in four cities during the month of March, 2020.

He is the vice president of the Columbine Poets, a poetry club at the state level in Colorado. In poetry contests of this club, he has won a third prize (2019) and an honorable mention (2015) in the formal poetry category and an honorable mention in the category of prose poem (2019). Contact information: drbogaert@gmail.com. Website https://www.drbogaert.com/