Debs Front Door IMG_0165
What Is on the Other Side of the Door?
by Howard Richard Debs

I do not know what is out there,
since the door is closed—
for now, for life’s sake,
I only open the door
If I must do so, to get
the daily mail, left by a
courageous unknown
postal carrier,
to take the trash to the curb
to be taken away
by a brave unseen
sanitation worker;
what else is on the
other side of the door
which I have opened
a thousand times before
for more than forty years
since raising a family
and together with my spouse,
growing old in this house?
Somewhere out there exhausted
doctors and nurses care for the intubated,
laid-off husbands and wives sit at kitchen tables
pondering fearfully what is due to pay,
empty schools, shut shops, worshipless pews
but too, mothers and fathers wheeling strollers
on the street, keeping distance from those they meet,
masked grocery workers stocking shelves
so we can eat, first responders, police officers serving us all—
the dawn of other ways to live beyond those now
proven unprepared for these our present days.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The poet Alicia Ostriker once wrote, “Writing is what poets do about trauma. We try to come to grips with what threatens to make us crazy, by surrounding it with language.” While we are amidst an unprecedented time of trial and tribulation, I wanted to take a moment through this poem to consider both the sad and the heroic without question, but to try as well to look ahead with hope.

Debs copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Howard Richard Debs is a recipient of the 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Award. His essays, fiction, and poetry appear internationally in numerous publications. His photography is featured in select publications, including in Rattle online as “Ekphrastic Challenge” artist and guest editor. His book Gallery: A Collection of Pictures and Words (Scarlet Leaf Publishing), is the recipient of a 2017 Best Book Award and 2018 Book Excellence Award. He is co-editor of New Voices: Contemporary Writers Confronting the Holocaust, forthcoming later in 2020 from Vallentine Mitchell of London, publisher of the first English language edition of the diary of Anne Frank. He is listed in the Poets & Writers Directory.