In 2013, I Wrote a Book of 40-Syllable Poems and Called It ‘Quarantine’

For the past few weeks, not a day has gone by without encountering the word ‘quarantine’ – usually used as a verb meaning “to isolate to prevent the spread of a disease.”

As a noun, quarantine means a period of 40 days. It comes from the Latin word, quadrāgintā, which also means forty.

Today is April 25, 2020 and it’s Day 40 of shelter in place (in Northern California, at least). So does that mean our quarantine is over?

Sadly, no. We still don’t know when restrictions will be eased or lifted.

I Wrote a Book of 40-Syllable Poems and Called It ‘Quarantine’

In 2013, the year I turned 40, I wrote several 40-syllable poems and published them along with some of my favorite snapshots at the time.

I called my project ‘Quarantine’ because I wanted to emphasize the theme of forty: 40-syllable poems written by a 40-year-old. Yeah, I thought I was so clever.

But not in my wildest imagination did I think that there would be a pandemic and that most of the world would be living under quarantine.

It was the furthest thing from my mind when I decided on a title for my book of poems and snapshots.


These days, I think about the word all the time. The idea that we may be in quarantine indefinitely has even inspired me to write a new 40-syllable poem that I call “inside/outside”:


we show our shells


we see ourselves


we cover face


a change of pace


we are exposed


beneath our clothes

grace, strength

who knows?

Quarantine book of poems

My gift to you

If you’d like to read my book, click on the image above. Then click on “Preview” to view all 40 pages.

I hope all of you are doing well and staying safe.

What’s On My Shelter-in-Place Playlist

Photo: Retha Ferguson on

My office recently sent out a brief survey to staff consisting of one question and a request for three songs to add to the “Quarantine Playlist” that they’re putting together.

I want to share my responses with you!

How has listening to music enhanced your shelter-in-place experience?

Listening to music with soothing melodies and comforting lyrics helps me relax. Knowing that other people are listening to the same songs also makes me feel closer to them. It’s important to feel that connection especially during this time of social and physical distancing.

These three songs that I’ve added to the playlist may sound a bit melancholic, but I find reassurance in the following uplifting lyrics:

🎶 Sign of the Times by Harry Styles:

“Just stop your crying / it’ll be all right”

🎶 Orpheus by Sara Bareilles:

“I know you miss the world / the one you knew / the one where everything made sense… / if the bottom drops out / I hope my love was someone else’s solid ground / don’t stop trying to find me here amidst the chaos / though I know it’s blinding / there’s a way out”

Related post: New Sara Bareilles Music Brings Comfort ‘Amidst the Chaos’ (April 2019)

🎶 Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus by various artists. My favorite is Lauren Daigle’s version:

“O Soul are you weary and troubled? / No light in the darkness you see… / and the things of earth will grow strangely dim / in the light of His glory and grace”

Related post: Lauren Daigle Makes a Joyful Noise at the Warfield in San Francisco (February 2019)

I hope you enjoy these three songs, too! Be well and stay safe.

Tell me in the comments below: What are some songs that bring YOU comfort during challenging times like these?