Lockdown Poems

Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash

Thank you to everyone who has submitted Lockdown poems. On Sunday 5 July, at 12.30pm – 1.30pm, there was a Poetry of the Lockdown event as part of Ledbury Poetry Festival Online.  The event featured a fascinating selection of Lockdown inspired poems, including poets commissioned by LPF, Naomi Shihab Nye, Sarala Estruch, Suzannah Evans, Elaine Beckett and Kim Moore. They read alongside poets who submitted to Ledbury Poetry Festival’s online call out. Hosted by Chloe Garner.  (A recording of this event will be uploaded to the Festival YouTube channel in a few days.)

These poems were written during Lockdown and the Coronavirus pandemic, at a time when it seemed the whole country, and in fact the whole world was going through the same crisis. Though of course everyone’s individual experience of this situation is unique. I am aware, as many people are, that for people and places in the world, the challenges are huge and sometimes extremely harrowing, compared to my own. Nonetheless, in reading these poems, I find reflections on, and insight into, my own experiences. As well as differences. Other ways of thinking about, or seeing, what is happening in this present time. I have found these poems extremely resonant, and I hope you will too.

Thank you to everyone for their contribution.

Chloe Garner, Artistic Director

 


Your Poems

The Same Boat 
by Julie Sheldon

‘We’re all in the same boat’ they say
But I would disagree
So many different sailing crafts
Upon this stormy sea

Some sail on ocean liners
In comfort, style, and ease
Relaxing on their balconies
….Sipping their G & Ts

Some speed along in motor boats
As if it’s all ok……
With little care for smaller crafts
Which may get in their way

Some struggle on their battleships
Where nothing’s going right
Endlessly preparing…..
For the next relentless fight

Some huddle in their lifeboats…
And pray that they’ll be saved
Hoping for a calmer sea…
And fearing every wave

Some drift around upon their rafts….
They barely stay afloat
They’re praying for a change of luck…
And chance to board a boat

Some haven’t found their sea legs yet….
And dread each wave and swell
They’re struggling to stay upright
And don’t feel very well

So whilst you’re on your journey
To a safe and calmer port
Look out for fellow sailors
Who may need some support

Could you throw them a life belt?
Or a paddle or an oar?
Perhaps you could help guide them
A bit nearer to the shore

Bubble Trouble
by Julie Sheldon

I am a single granny
With daughter, and a son
I’ve got a newish lover
And he’s a lot of fun!

Now I can make a ‘bubble’
But which house do I choose?
Someone will be offended
No matter what I do

Do I go to my daughter’s?
And help wipe snotty noses
Or do I see my lover?
For candlelight and roses

Do I go to my son’s house?
And risk an ear bashing
Or shall I go to lover boy’s?
And have some nights of passion

And then, there’s my friend Maureen
Who has nobody else
So shall I spend some time with her?
And not think of myself

Am I a granny dutiful?
On whom they can depend
Am I a selfish lover?
Or a dedicated friend?

This really is a problem
That I could do without
In fact, it was much simpler
When I could NOT go out

Oh Boris! Why’ve you caused me
Such a lot of trouble
I really don’t know what to do
With this flippin’ ‘social bubble’

Catch a Virus
by Clive Grewcock

When I was at school we used
Pencils and blackboard and jotters,
Now things are virtual,
But you can still catch a virus
From coughing and snotters.

Some of us
by Julie Sheldon

Some of us must stay at home
And not go out the door
Some of us are working
Like we’ve never worked before

Some of us are falling out
With siblings, Dads, and Mothers
Some of us are reaching out
And looking after others

Some of us are keeping busy
Doing lots of jobs
Some of us have given up……
We’re turning into slobs

Some of us are playing games
And learning brand new hobbies
Some of us are still ‘no good’
And watching out for Bobbies

Some of us have lots of friends
To text with and to phone
Some of us have no one
And feel that we’re alone

Some of us feel positive
And think that we’re in charge
Some of us feel anxious
And fear the world at large

Some of us have footpaths
To cycle, walk, and jog
Some of us have nowhere nice
To even walk the dog

Some of us are welcoming
New babies being born
Some of us have lost loved ones
And cannot truly mourn

None of us will ever know
What’s really going on
None of us will think the same
When all of this is done

All of us can choose to spend
Our days in fear and dread…..BUT
All of us can choose to plan
For better days ahead

What if it’s just Nature?
by Julie Sheldon

What if it’s just Nature
Taking back control
Questioning the actions
Of every living soul

What if it’s just Nature
Asking us to stop
To think about our planet
And treasure what we’ve got

What if it’s just Nature
Slowing us right down
Time to look around us
And see what can be found

What if it’s just Nature
Asking us to think
What is it that we really need?
Love, health and food and drink

What if it’s just Nature
Giving us the time
To be more understanding,
Generous and kind

What if it’s just Nature
Asking us to care
To think about each other
And sometimes just be there

What if it’s just Nature
Sending us this pain
Time to re-evaluate
Before we’re all insane

What if it’s just Nature
Setting us a test
To try to save our planet
Let’s do our very best!

Veins
by Emma Wells

A Venetian network:
meet, fuse, form.
Watery channelled communication;
aqua-hued veins – a circuitry of life,

commerce, love, society.
Gondoliers float, promising infatuation
on muddy churned inlets –
overexposed to humanity.

Our exploits.
Stripy candy costumes entice sugar-
craved tourists to taste the city’s sweetest wares;
where love’s promise is sold
at an extortionate price.
London’s Underground:
a multi-hued snake
weaving textures, colours, shapes.
Its pathways are arterial veins
rushing to and fro perpetually linking
nerve endings,
vital organs,
sacred hearts in the palms of its metal soul.

Medical corridors mimic veinal format –
each cubicle a tiny blood clot hiding drama,
risk, suppressed panic.
Nurses, doctors, registrars skittle towards pins
in a frenzy of duty, service, long shifts.
Sweat drips from their overplayed,
uncool veins.

City airports heave with a throng of tourism –
each department gate an exit. A blood outlet.
Drops plummet from airborne wings as they rise
to fruition,
distant climes…

Onboard, a central veinal corridor acts
as a skeletal backbone for all:
a bringing of nourishment, safety, scarlet-clad,
overtly wide, waxy smiles.

Tarmac veins cast steely maze-like patterns
across London’s aerial views –
the M25: a beating pulse, ventricles, a central pathway.
Traffic jams mimic reduced fluency.
Motor.
Flow.
Jam.
Stop.

Fluid ceases to rotate, creating oxygen
starved passengers.
Cars line up heaving laboured breath –
too long captured in tin-canned warmth.

Social media: the loudest heart thrum.
She beckons all focus, mind matter,
conscious, current thought.
This siren winds her veinous, electronic
circuitry tightly amidst upheld fingers.
Willing hostages. Compliant. Passively taken.

Phone charge leads are fibrous veinal columns:
connecting, reaching, formatting a virtual,
veinous world.

Its orthography was perfect
by Aurora B.E. Blue

Its orthography was perfect,
lock – down, protect the NHS, save lives, control the virus, social distance, stay alert,
“wake up! put on masks! the time has come!
But beyond choking pollution, lungs fill with death,
changing day in, night out, dizzying times.
Knock – Knock – who’s there? All the G’S outside our door, 1-5, popping away constantly!
It draws right angles in front of your eyes but some see through it all …
Still Orangutans fall from trees …
Jaws are control – shaped. Locked in its jaws, full of power, I & you

Salisbury
by Will Daunt

SP2 7EN: 18/6/2020

Driving to work I’d pass that imagined
close where in thirty odd years 47
would toxify rushing off its owners
One summer I dithered on a downland
rim then ran from the rain as Chernobyl
churned out terror vapours hours away Now
the telly re-tells these as they weren’t not
like the now we know from breathing fretting
virally A Finnish show showed rabies’
empty kennels these and other warnings.

Re-imagined Photo Album
by Martha Iris Blue (aged 12)

like oak, only older, stiller, stilling, waiting for a whispering wind to wake me from the silence,

orchards, vast, decaying, crumbling within pocked cement stone walls – keep-out! fruit pilferers,
dust clouds clouding, only They know it is there …

kneeling in a puddle of pitter-pattering birdsong; feeling hazy rays of sunlight blazing through showering shadows of greying raindrops, knelt as in prayer, there, day after day after day…

now living in a kingdom of cackling crows, cawing against the crackling fizz of radio stations echoing in every background,

I once knew Quiet, knew Quench, knew Waterfalls falling into summer daydreams, knew Lichen, knew thoughtful thinking, knew lasting tearful embraces …

memories like Oceans finger the land, touching minds, pull away, drawing, as near but ever away again and again and again…

obscured sunsets, drenched fields now soaked like soft felt cloth, set amongst struggling burned, speckled with magpies and ravens that truly knew this place

opaque stones, warmed by evening suns, silhouette against ultra-marine seas of sombre stars, steal the sky for themselves, overpowering the moon’s sheen, slowly sink into morning: Us

A life with no colour
by Charlotte Jolley

Our world of innocence was caught unaware,
Taunted by a malicious nightmare,
Locked inside for the foreseeing future,
An experiment gone wrong; a distorted sculpture.

We wait through day for that word of relief,
Citizens spiral into psychotic belief,
“Lives have been lost” says the newspaper ad,
Coronavirus is sending people mad.

Where to go; what to do,
We try our best to struggle through,
The roads are clear from cars and bikes,
No long walks or country hikes.

Isolated from family and friends,
Trapped inside till the crisis ends,
Can we survive this helpless attack?,
A life with no colour: only black.

Thankful in lockdown
by Isha Matharu

We all knew 2020 would be unique,
The days turned into weeks, then months,
The government repeatedly gave warnings of social distancing,
And the world sat there listening.

Today, I am thankful for family,
But it is not just me, it is all of us internationally,
Another reason of gratitude is technology,
and all the scientists who studied biology.

And the people who right now work hardest of all,
Are the NHS who stand up tall.
This is for all the people who have lost their jobs in this pandemic,
And all those who are diabetic,
and those who work as paramedics,
This is for all the people suffering from COVID-19,
This is for those with bad hygiene,
This is to make you realize,
That we should be thankful for those who we miss the most in this time.

Socially Distanced
by Michael Lawrence

It’s Sunday morning. The sky
is the colour it does best.
I have changed the contents
of the cats’ litter trays and
disinfected what needs
disinfecting. Now I sit here
in my brown leather chair,
ankles crossed on its matching
footstool, cup of cappuccino
at my elbow, scrawling this.
A small buzzing that’s not
my ears, a bee or wasp
my weak eyes can’t locate,
otherwise quiet in an old
farmhouse at the end of a long
well-pitted track a world
and worlds away from other
people’s versions of isolation,
socially distanced by
scribbles in a pad.

Defenceless
by Tess Biddington

Choosing January and
for the third attempt
to withdraw the medication
that keeps the walls neutral
and conforming for me, that
sets the bar (no lower but
no higher) those weevils
are returning to the woodwork,
churning through old rot and
making new.

There is so much
to consume, forces and events
allied to fight off the choking,
chronic obstructions with
a weapon of its own. Maps
colour the insurrection’s
most brutal invasions; satellites
pick out the keloids, tiny scars
in their rows on the red earth,
where we are or will be buried.

We are made enemies, deprived
of touch, faces barely readable,
we die alone
our last breath no release.

And, for days, sun pulls seedlings
from their coats, wildflowers
are named by chalk scrawls
on the pavement, birds teach us
their songs, the Earth calms itself
and we wait and shuffle
in masked queues our skin warm,
nothing
else to do but wait and look around.

Faded Rainbows
by Francis Charters

We thought it would be over before the month of May,
They said it was a type of flu, and would soon go away,
But now it really looks as if the crown of colds could stay,
Faded rainbows.

It was the Chinese Cholera, from a burger made of bat,
Then Italy and Spain got it, what did we think of that?
When super-spreaders brought it here, we were really in the crap.
Faded rainbows.

And lockdown cost us billions, cash we could ill afford,
But furlough gave us income, and time of getting bored,
A life quite low and leisurely became our just reward,
Faded rainbows.

But Malvern is a pretty place to lockdown with a friend,
My kids bring life and laughter and a family to defend
And Claire has kept her promise to love me to the end
of faded rainbows.

Plaguelock
by Juhi Joshi

The sudden invasion of pathogens
left humanity in dungeons.
As we sit and witness the ordeal
heaps of corpses are left ideal.

The priest in white apron
and the enlist in beige patron
working hand in hand selflessly
in a honourable exemplary.

The humankind is startled
Gaea smiles and terra sparkles
the passerine advancing towards havens
as the tellus recuperates from our abrasions.

Take comfort and know
better days lie ahead,
but first we must endeavour
to keep a cool head!

London Lockdown
by Angela Wigglesworth 

On 26th March the government finally took stock,
As lock down was announced, at 8 o clock,
Stay at home and isolate was their simple request,
And listen to guidelines as they know what’s best,
We listen to the guidelines and fear for the months ahead,
And get angry with those idiots who still go out instead,
Now there are no pubs or bars left open, schools and gyms are closed,
Not just in the uk, but all around the globe
Our routines have all been changed, we work from home with regular naps,
And Friday nights are spent indoors, on video calling apps,
Girls dye their hair themselves, and boys shave theirs heads,
We’re running out of ventilators, and hospital beds,
But the NHS staff continue and their work is so admired,
Working long shifts, saving lives, even those who once retired
Our minor day to day problems, no longer seem to matter, no one cares about their weight, or if their getting fatter
With death tolls rising everywhere – the uk, the us and China,
The least of your concerns, is waxing your vagina
How long will this lockdown last – we still have no idea,
According to the news, it will be a while until the we’re clear
Now is the time, for communities to come together,
And pray this will all be over, in time for summer weather
So take shopping to elderly neighbours, but leave it at the gate,
Reminisce about the good times With your missed best mate,
We should get out while we still can, enjoy our daily walk,
Call family often, with no reason, just to talk,
Although these times are really tough, we must stay positive and excited,
As in the not too distant future, we’ll all be reunited.

Everything
by Paul Kidd Hewitt

In the middle of this infinite black sea,
Amongst millions of blazing stars,
Hanging delicately by a golden thread,
You and I are here,
And that is everything.

Haiku -The New Normal
by Kamla Murti

Haiku : 1
The New Normal
The dolphins swim,
While rhino gallops down the lane
Is this new normal?

Haiku :2
The New Normal
Peacocks strut in streets
While I rejoice in peace
Is this new normal?

Lockdown
by Paul Ryan

Lockdown ended – but not for Me
Gonna have to have another cup of Tea
Stuck inside for at least another Month
Watching Black Lives Matter
And Statues that refuse to Move
What a World we have Become
Please show Kindness to Everyone !

First of April Twenty-Twenty
by Jennifer Ridout

First of April Twenty-Twenty
It’s April fool’s day today,
But nothing to laugh about.
More people will die from this virus.
Of that I have no doubt.
Google haven’t set up any
Joke news articles this year.
They assumed we wouldn’t like them,
But they’d have brought some cheer.
I didn’t see any on the telly,
Or hear any on the radio.
Just lots of talk of Covid-19.
Our current invisible foe.

Gowns
by Jennifer Ridout

I’m trying to make sure,
My dressing gown doesn’t become
My ‘depressing gown.’
I’m unlikely to wear
A ballgown for a while.
All events are currently cancelled.
I have little chance
Of fitting back into
My wedding gown ten years on.
I’ll do my best during this,
Not to end up ill
And wearing a hospital gown.

Ten Things to be Thankful For
by Jennifer Ridout

My family are all safe and well.
I am able to speak to them.
I can enjoy more time with Owen.
The weather is warming up.
There are spring flowers to look at.
My mental health is good now.
I know I can get through this.
I have a good job to go back to.
We are fanatically stable.
Wildlife is recovering without us.

Yesterday I Spent
by Jennifer Ridout

Yesterday I spent three hours,
On Facebook and shopping sites.
(Trying to avoid the bad news)
.
Yesterday I spent over £400,
On stuff I didn’t really need.
(Most I’ll send back for refunds)
.
Yesterday I also spent my money,
On presents for upcoming birthdays.
(I’m sorted for up to October now)
.
Yesterday I spent five hours,
Idly watching telly.
(Mainly CBeebies and This Morning)
.
Yesterday I spent an hour,
Walking in spring sunshine.
(We spotted some new flowers)
.
Yesterday I spent another,
Weeding the vegetable patch.
(Ready to plant seeds Dad gave us)
.
Yesterday I spent twenty pounds
On books for homeschooling Owen.
(Trying to keep us motivated)
.
Yesterday I spent no time,
With family I don’t live with.
(I didn’t even phone any of them)
.
Yesterday I spent only moments,
Actually awake on my own.
(Today I’ll get some me time for poetry)
.
Yesterday I spent too much time,
Worrying about the Corona virus.
(It’s hard not to when it’s so bad)
.
Yesterday I spent a while,
Searching for moisturiser.
(My hands are so dry from washing)
.
Yesterday I spent too long
Biting my nails and cuticles.
(We’re to avoid touching our face)
.
Yesterday I spent the night
In the spare room’s single bed.
(I went to bed later than Phil)
.
Yesterday I spent ages
Trying to get to sleep.
(Feeling bad that I’d wasted time)

Good Friday
by Jennifer Ridout

The sun was shining today.
It was warm in the garden,
And on our walk along the river.
We set up ramps for Owen,
To drive his monster truck over.
We enjoyed a roast pork lunch.
Owen discovered that he
Absolutely loves crackling,
But found the road parsnips,
We too ‘sugary’ for him.
It wasn’t the day we had planned,
With circus at the theatre
And a big family get together,
But it was definitely a good Friday.

Socially Distant
by Jennifer Ridout

When I was feeling really low,
This was the normal state of being.
Staying at home with just Owen.
I’ve been better at keeping in touch,
In the past fortnight than usual.
I’m just glad we have the hand,
The technology to do so.
If this happened twenty years ago,
Life would have been so different.
No video calls or online shopping.
Just dial-up internet and a land line.
My son doesn’t really understand,
All that is going on in the world.
I’ve kept news off round him.
He knows that we are trying to avoid,
A nasty virus that is going around.
He’s missing his school friends.
I’m sure they miss him too.
Axel Scheffler has done illustrations,
Of Julia Donaldson’s characters,
Complying with the distancing rules.
Supermarkets have put down marks
On the floor, so people stay apart
From one another and stay safe.
There are often queues to get in,
Du to the restrictions on the number
Of customers in each store at a time.
They’ve put Perspex screens up,
To protect the checkout staff.
Even the cars at Phil’s work,
Are staying one space apart.
So many are working from home,
Or are part of the Furlough scheme,
That there’s so few cars on site.

bum bum
by Tiago Wayne

There are little streams
Black as the ribbons
On an undertaker’s hat
And a welsh pony
Standing in the buttercup
Embroidered field
And a jogger ,unaware
That they had stepped
Into heaven looking
At his watch.

Lunch Hour
by Nicholas Starkey

It was lunch hour
And the shop was as empty as concrete.
They were only letting fifty people
In the store at a time
Due to the recent lockdown rules
Amid the coronavirus outbreak.
What worried people most
Was not the virus itself
But the outlook it had on humanity.

Outside, Gary,
Whose wife killed herself
After being raped by her dad,
Was sitting down
and being harassed by security
For holding a cup.

Knockdown
by Nicholas Starkey

This lockdown
Is an old-fashioned knockdown.
Streets are angry with iron,
And lips are touching germ.
People are recorded as saying,
Why does it happen to us
Every time, yet we
Try hard for it not to?

This lockdown
Is a new-famished eclipse
Of pinnacle human expression –
No touching allowed.
Our dearest
Seem alien, almost different
From who we knew them as
Months prior.

This lockdown
Has a motive.
To turn people for better; for worse.
The choice is not the lockdown’s.
People have shown
Who they are –
Even in lockdown,
The homeless are

Left out.

Free Time
by Christina Bezzina

I woke at 4am!, ?, No my watch’s no longer ticking
No clock shops during lockdown, my handcuffs gently slipping.
Sipping coffee in the garden I awaken to the day

But wait, the water butt is leaking – drip, drip,
Tick, tick
I’m in charge, its my free time not theirs.
How dare those individual droplets escape the dark confines
And break my dreams. I need them. Drippy hippies!
I make a stand and put a stop, turn the screw, screw the tap.
Freedom for them would flood the world, break down the
gates. THAT’S NOT ALLOWED.

Now peace regains but for the pigeons’ clap. Is it Thursday?
My free time melts to One-day.
One day I’ll always have chance to just watch the baby birds
Faltering at the feeder to shouts of concern from others,
Mothers?

The plants meanwhile are busy doing nothing in the sun,
Until tomorrow morning when I check on what they’ve done.
A seed of mine bears fruit, a shoot, while the world is broken

Free time cascades around me, I’m almost drowning with relief.
No one watches me right now, I’ve slipped outside “The System”
I’ve made it through those walls and to the other side.
I listen to those deep down calls and make a promise to myself:

Free time.

Maternity Leave
by Lisa Marie Shepherd

I sing nursery rhymes while a masked nurse gives you your jabs
We wash our hands
We visit the park and wish good morning to strangers, two metres apart
We clap for key workers
You try to roll on the mat as the daily death toll is announced
We wash our hands
You give your first smile at grandparents over videocall, my mother cries
We visit the park
There are no baby groups or sensory play, I panic buy a disco light
We clap for key workers
I put my mask on in front of you, so you’re not afraid
We wash our hands
You giggle as I shout at the TV briefing, thinking it’s a game
We visit the park
I hold you close
We clap for key workers
I cry
If you ever ask what it was like, I’ll describe your dad pulling silly faces at you during work telephone calls
and how lucky he felt to bath you every night
I’ll tell you that we witnessed the kindness of strangers, community spirit and war veterans honouring our precious health service
I’ll describe that mild May night when Meteors lit up the night sky and I held you above my head so you could swim amongst the stars
I’ll tell the story of when we woke to hear the first dawn chorus of the year, opening windows so we could watch spring swirl around your bedroom
We washed our hands
We visited the park
We clapped for key workers
and I’ll remind myself that
we did our best

Box Brownie Memories
by Phil Carswell

Box Brownie Memories
Summer Sunday,
When we sat in some quiet lane
Munching sandwiches,
And drinking thermos tea,
The day stretched ahead ,lazy
Bathed in childhood memory ,
Captured on Box Brownies
To be released on rainy nights
To bring back moments
Spent together ,
The whole of life lay ahead .
The only stress was school on Monday
Heralded by the Sunday evening bath,
Then the week with it’s smell of wet tarmac and brick clad streets
Until the next weekend .

Now the quiet lane is empty .
Sunday picnics replaced with leisure centres ,
Shopping trips and online engagement .
To wander down a lane and back
Now seems a pointless task ,
Photo albums replaced with discs and icloud stores
No sitting watching a slide show of summers spent in Wales
Now its off to Florida or Spain .
The world is bigger
The possibilities are endless .
Until now .
When this silent killer changed the game .
So back to the woods for quieter times
And Box Brownie dreams again .

restrictive social distance
by jules blue

is it easy looking backwards now to former scenes of exuberance and capitalist extravagance in markets of gossip of dross and of hip to the tip of the tittle-tattle-tonguing cultural exchange of people passing people passing on people on stupendously-expensive pendulous pedals and heels pedalling the confetti masquerade of coffee-wine-café crowds whose accessorising identities were allowed to hang around in a stolen dance of sinful syntax seemingly untaxable beneath beautiful bejewelled architectures of children playing with unsupervised children contracting the social abstract all over like over-spilling flower-stalls like bursting fountains like a pandemic virus of white noise driven by the hunger for sensation behind the trance of conformity or the rolling out radioactive 5G enormity but is there still a heart between brain and loin in our highest of places? What beheld us? A virus of sorts? An aerosolised globalised lab-test? An anti-pollution revolution? Revelation of a new world order? A dislike of sports? No: restrictive social distancing.

so now to scenes of dancing in sun-printed patterns of an eternal spring lining the darkest spectral voids of emptied playgrounds and urbanised sun-pastelled facades fading fast with the last fading free light of free trades broken by the merciless-indifferent cruel-oppressive happy-ignorant fortunate-mad undignified-arrogant no-science-in-conscience-closed-circle straightjacketing melancholy of births deaths marriages all equally quietened by desensitised masses taking classes in futile binary confrontations with drones and surveillance whilst the silent forgotten majority plead for emotional death beyond emergent churches jostling for urgent face-times as children sad as cut flowers are reduced to mass-produced mechanised expressions trained to order endless order expressing anaesthetised tongues of barbaric alienation in incalculable sadness anonymising whose indifference to the political-non-political soi-disant social contract of neutralised anguish as complete as aloneness and subservience to incommunicable fears and institutionalised freedoms of a politics that reads like a sentence: from Left to Right in just a few words: looking forward to looking back again

Swifts 
by Tom Anderson

I look up from the garden
and there they are, two swifts
gliding high in the blue sky
while sunlight plays
on their crescent wings.

It is a spring morning here,
so green and beautiful
it could pass for paradise,
apart from the mourners
apart from the coffins.

Life goes on, death goes on.
But when the smoke rises
from the innocuous chimneys,
who will notice anything else
in those green spaces, that blue sky?

Flaming Tulips
by Lisa Lopresti

Robin redbreast, flaming tulips
lean towards the mellow sun
their black and yellow hearts
look to rosemary’s pale purple plumage
on this unblemished
forget me not Spring day.

The sparrows chirping
and the warm, low sun’s tendrils
sooth a smile
to mouth corners
still the black and yellow tulip hearts
lightly bob their portent.

The world now tainted in isolation
except for small and large, black screens
creating cold blue glows
other colours hint from windows
at night, parish lanterns silver
threads the scene.

Daylight and reality
black and yellow hearts are known – unseen
spring is blue, yellow and citron green
hoping under clear skies, that black bags
and yellowing bodies
are not summers fate.

Schools are closed
David Babatunde Wilson

Schools are closed!
The minister said
To halt the dread disease
But not quite closed
As I sing and dance
Head, shoulders, toes and knees

Schools are closed!
The parents said
Except for workers key
But not quite closed
As I stand and sup
My early morning tea

Schools are closed!
The papers said
Bar those with special needs
But not quite closed
As teachers sow
The lifelong learning seed

Schools are closed!
The people said
As staff work on the net
But not quite closed
To love and care
As children’s needs are met

Zoom
by David Babatunde Wilson

Everyone’s on video calls
With Zoom and Team and Skype
Which means that I can see your face
I don’t just have to type

We’re talking on the phone more
The Internet is buzzin
I’m catching up with old school friends
And messaging my cousin

There’s WhatsApp for my family
And friends who are on furlough
It gets a bit frustrating
When the WiFi’s on a go-slow

Let’s keep in touch by any means
By phone or app or post
Check in with friends and neighbours
And those you love the most

The sounds of lockdown
by Dee Allen

The empty silence of city streets
Closed pubs that never call time
Theatres missing their encores
Singers cut off in their prime.

Bird calls and tweets fill the air
Nature has full rein to breathe
As humans hunker down at home
And grounded planes no longer leave.

Joggers pound the pavements
Shouting cyclists pedal by
The dance to keep our distance
Cursing those who just won’t try.

The constant chatter of Zoom calls
Is your sound on, love? I can’t see
Ooh, I like your snazzy wallpaper
Is there time for the loo or some tea?

Clapping for carers on Thursdays
The welcome plop of the post
The beep beep beep of the bin men
Key workers we now praise the most.

The hiss and sizzle of the barbecue
Sunny days merge together as one
The loud smash of glass being recycled
We ask: “When will lockdown be gone?”

New Morning Normal
by Jo Eccles

Get out of bed? What time? What for?
An Amazon delivery at the door
Is the only incentive I have these days
To stir myself from a duvet-clad haze

You want some breakfast? Help yourself;
There’s crisps and Kit-Kats on the top shelf
For God’s sake, you want fruit instead?
There’s half a chocolate orange by my bed.

Plait your hair? Just leave it in dreadlocks?
No clean knickers? No matching socks?
Yes, watch telly until midday…
We’ll start the homeschooling later, ok?

one day
by Judy Dinnen

One day…

One day, we’ll step out of doors,
walk down the street, meet our friends,
share a cup of coffee and chocolate cake.

One day we’ll play football, build a fire,
roast potatoes, sing a shanty, climb a
mountain. We’ll open wide church doors.

One day we’ll cry for the lost,
remember the stillness and separation
with due respect, carry the candle

of calm into our daily lives, watch with joy,
as petals open, birds build their nests,
bumble bees fly from flower to flower.

We’ll remember to stop, be still,
cherish birdsong and new blossom.
We’ll cook and converse with new care,
study and travel with eyes open.

We’ll pray and praise with new vigour.
We’ll break bread with fresh delight.
We’ll message, email and zoom with
new respect, with love and diligence.

Together with friend and stranger,
we’ll know our deep humanity, our
links across waves and mountain.
We’ll hold hands and share vision.

One day we’ll remember and share,
carry the candle of calm into daily life,
respect the stranger, cry for the lost.
One day we’ll celebrate our whole world.

Gestation
by Harry Owen

Sure as babies,
nine months down the line
there’ll be a boom
of virus poems.

No one will ask
Do you remember
what you were doing when…?
because we’ll all know:

the wailing and teething,
the semantic nappy-changing
will be quite
unmistakable.

Ironing in Lockdown
by Nicola Harrison

Soft Everest of laundry, avalanche of the un-pressed
dispossessed dresses that once had occasions,
hang like reproaches in hushed wardrobe air:

the red halter neck now hobbled by Covid
and fine woollen shawls moth-doilied in drawers
like old horse blankets cast aside, eclipsed
by shorts and trainers, no glamour now

no skull and crossbone-jewelled earrings
from Butler and Wilson, oh those hoops,
such fancy bling! The shops are shut, no sign of opening.

Same old corona garb, washed every day
quick on at rising, no-one to see creases
In unfolded shirts, or dark roots in hair.

Fuzz on legs, bikini lines, eyebrows thicken, breasts
find benign slopes in braless idleness. Gels on toes
wander from cuticles in reversed half-moons
lurid in neon pink. They do not pass Go,
and hands are tough as hoofs from sanitiser
or wrung, like grief, in water, to the Happy Birthday tune.

Even so I iron the red halter and the black frilled frock
suspend them from hangers, let them breathe while I admire
the person who was that person who wore that dress
and the red lipstick and the plucked brows and the toenails scarlet

At the Gate
by Lily Cleary

I remember the moment that I stood in the moonlight with more stars in the sky than I had seen for years
And I held the bin bag, which had dripped something acrid and unlike anything we had thrown away along the hall floor – and now I stood
At the gate, looking out into the yellow-lit street, even the yellow didn’t dull the stars
I stood with a single, distinct, thought; “there’s nothing for me out here anymore”

We haven’t left this postcode for 13 weeks

We are less afraid now, and I try to remember the things that we used to do, when we could do things
I wonder if the world is divided into those who stand at their gates with the whisper of night on their face, wishing to be free
And those who lock the door until it’s over, and probably long after it’s over, because it’s safe in here.

A Stranger in the House
by Victor Sarkin

A Stranger in the House
A sense of disturbance

I knock firmly on the door
Yet I have a key.
My family rejoices but I
Feel unseen. This building
I spent my life to build, is not my home.

Outside this house is talk
Of freedom and peace for all,
But they don’t mean me.

Inside, I teach my children about rights
They will not have. I may as well
Have taught them of wrongs,
Which will be theirs anyway.

I am afraid to turn on the light,
Afraid of what I will find.
Illumination does not ever highlight
Anything good, you see.

I step with trepidation through the house,
as I have only
Learned to walk
In this awkward manner.

Whenever I am asleep, I am plagued
With unrest, as I need to be
Presentable when the new day arrives.

Water, power, are paid up,
Yet using it brings anxiety.
I expect reprimand
For using too much.

I don’t know how much longer
I will be fit for this type of living.
Yet I live. And live. And live.

Untitled
by Sakshi Shinde

Being forced into isolation
feels stagnating.
Like flies abuzz on fruits in the market
on a hot, summer day.

Random bursts of underlying emotion,
All abruptly surface.
Been feeling like crying the past couple of days.

It’s indescribable
Yet every little thing can be described.
But I am just not able.

There’s a whole blur of emotions that,
right now, I simply cannot deal with.
Makes me want to crawl into the fetal position
and just accept defeat.

Crave human interaction that’s not the
same two faces I see everyday.
But technology only meets that need halfway.

Have to study, need to work
But lost all my will to put in effort.

Planned to be so productive,
Drew up a schedule.
Can’t seem to do anything,
feel like a failed work mule.

mentality of lockdown
by Edward Parish

Because I could not challenge lockdown;
It did kindly challenge me.
Does the lockdown make you shiver?
Does it?

I saw the security of my generation destroyed,
How I mourn the freedom.
Does the loss of freedom make you shiver?
Does it?

Politician’s communicating virtually
Above all others is the robotism
Does this robotic nature make you shiver?
Does it?

The legal instrument that’s really important
Above everything is the isolating lockdown.
Safety now is essential, safety is lifesaving
Does this make you shiver?
Does it?

Haiku: Schools Closed
by Connor Parish

Schools closed;
Exams cancelled!
Young futures ruined?

Lockdown
by Jennifer Boit

Suddenly the world is on hold
Is it rearranging or disintegrating?
I have shut out the world
Cannot see my family
Touch them or be with them.
This new world is strange
This new life is something I cannot understand or get used to
Suddenly it’s a new way of life
Only to go out to the shop
Two meter apart
Oh what have we come to
Is this virus with us for a while
Hope it goes soon I don’t like rules
My mental state is not right
I now fear I cannot think clear
Will this virus hit me or will I survive?
Everything I touch I feel out of control
Is nature trying to tell us something?
To leave well alone
Earth is rearranging to stop it disintegrating.

Oh Corona!
by Shagun Jain

Covid -19 ..was it a gimmick?
Spreading from one country to another was soon graded a pandemic.
Starting from a laboratory in Wuhan it became virulent in all countries,
A big scare for every soul ..was initially found in people with travel history.
Covering face with masks and sanitizing the hands,
Became a norm for everyone but were hoping that it ends.
Travel became a restriction ,no matter what was planned,
It was too soon to anticipate the disaster it would shend.
Quarantine and Isolation started as it spread from one individual to another,
People now had become cautious as they felt it would smother.
SOCIAL DISTANCING started and life came to a still ,
Movie halls restaurants or malls- no one could fill,
Finally, came the lockdown ,as the virus had begun to spill.
Panic overwhelmed the masses as they became jobless,
How would they feed their families! They were just clueless.
Doctors nurses and so many warriors are still working hard for us
Risking their lives as they want us to live without a fuss.
The Corona scare is still on and spreading,
Stay home and be safe ,the world is begging.
Now that Malls, Restaurants, Religious places & hotels are open, yet control your lust,
For, the virus Corona is still active & still is far away from our trust.

Lockdown Parents
by Sarah Smith

Lockdown parents
I hope you can relate
Its been a long time
Since they shut the school gate

I was going to be the best teacher
I had a schedule on the wall
Pe with Joe wicks
Then maths English and more

I was going to teach them everything
While juggling the everyday tasks
It would be fun and different
Who was I kidding I now ask

Nearly three months later
And my house is a state
The schedule was ripped up
By the first lockdown update

Nine o’clock start
You must be kidding
If they are dressed before twelve
I’m totally winning

Three meals a day
Breakfast lunch and tea
That went out the window
Times those meals by twenty three

Then there’s the guilt
That they didn’t do their spellings
Because they were on the playstation
Building new Minecraft villages

You can try to clean up
But as soon as you stop
A hurricane passes through
And ruins the lot

You can try to make projects
Or find fun things to play
But attention span is low
And they just run away

As for exercise forget Joe wicks
Walking to the shop to get important bits
Lugging back bags filled to the brim
With lots of snacks and bottles of gin

Forget about bedtime
That doesn’t exist anymore
Because the kids aren’t tired
But they are constantly bored

At least I can say
I made it, kept the kids alive
I did my best with what I had
Even if gin helped me to survive

We are all amazing
You better believe its true
So be proud of yourselves
Yes be proud of you!!!

Hope
by Clive Grewcock

My mood goes down but
As I lie here looking at
The moon, grateful
I wasn’t broken by
Another day,
I can have hope for
Tomorrow’s dawn.

Internet searches during lockdown
by Emma Mason

How long is this lockdown likely to last?
What are some ways to make the time go fast? Best home workouts for beginners
Recipes for healthy but easy home-made dinners

What are some new skills that I can learn?
Can English sun give you sun burn?
How to teach yourself the guitar
Chords for Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Best way to stop getting such dry hands? When is the soonest I can start to make plans? Should disinfectant be injected?
How and why was Trump elected?

Should I be wearing a mask for my face?
Where can I buy a pretty mask with lace?
How many units of alcohol should you drink in a week? What happens now we are past the peak?

Can I send back gym kit bought online?
How many bottles in a case of wine?
What are the best ways to be staying alert?
Is it bad to be only living in sweatshirts?

Am I allowed outside more than once a day? Have I become a quarantine cliché?
How many people can I see at one time?
Is sitting in a park considered a crime?

Why is Ireland allowing 6 people to meet?
What is 2 metres measured in feet?
Best deals for six flights to Ireland for cheap
Why am I having such weird dreams in my sleep?

Why has 2020 been such a bad year?
Unemployed graduate, will I have a career?
Are pubs set to be re-open soon?
Will this lockdown be over by June?

Grieved in Absence
by Ermira Mitre

How pitiable for inmates to become gravediggers,
and bury thousands of dead in mass graves.
How grotesque was funeral homes’ peak,
“When did they serve the most and briefest wakes?”
For graveyards these months were the busiest,
grief echoed across the older graves.
good men buried unsung from their dearest,
souls ascending to heaven, from this injured earth.

Many died, thousands were buried, people trembled,
the loved ones wailed and grieved, in absence.

Meditations on the Spring Lockdown
by Ermira Mitre

In March and April, the Sun warms the Earth,
smoothing its frozen winter layers,
swelling and opening its pores to breathe,
Indoors, we sense the Spring’s awakening.

We gaze at Spring’s smile in innocence,
pink petals blooming on peach-tree boughs,
a retinue of baffled tulips, chrysanthemums,
in ambiguity, humanity ribboned with so much anguish!

We smell the dirt’s fervor fusing the air,
watch the flowers’ buds blossoming outside.
In the vigil of pandemic self-imprisoning,
we feel drowned in novel social distancing.

Every man, child, pet, locked down in houses,
the new incubators of a civilized threat,
no one has a clue what caused the lewd virus,
some say it bursts from blind eyes of bats.

Hence, it’s still a heavy air in deserted streets;
emptied by this demonic, harmful disease.
It has steamed the flow in our cities’ arteries
has thwarted their life’s bloodstream.

O, Men, now you blame the Wind of the East
for this pseudo-alive virus, swiping all the rest,
North and South, and the farthest West.
while we, inside, with a burden in our heart, unrested!

Wrapped in a heavy curtain of self-isolation,
worse than the Iron Curtain of Cold War,
humankind is calling for its last survival,
“shelter in place, wash your hands, wear masks”,
the virus has outraced human intelligence.

One Day Soon
by Alison Lovett

With pots and pans and clapping hands on Thursdays we still gather
To congratulate the NHS and all those that really matter
Our thoughts go out to those ones lost and those that have recovered
To Captain Moore who raised the bar with his fundraising efforts
Rainbows of hope that children paint hang proud at many window
Bright in colour, true to form though pots of gold have dwindled
Cars rest idle by the kerbs, their exhausts so still and silent
Shank’s pony paves the way more healthy and reliant
One day soon we all will chat about the months that were
We’ll hug our friends rejoice and play, the lockdown a mere blur

Lockdown Universe
by Brenda Cox

Sun-filled walks extend our universe.

Newly ploughed fields – never before had I seen such beauty in the brown, velvet loam –
distant green dales, moors,
bumble bee charged meadows blanketed with butterflies, wild flowers,
delicate spring blossom reaching to the sky, enveloping us in its fragile beauty,
silence broken only by yearning birdsong and
hedgerows chirping and rustling with invisible inhabitants.
A lark trills above, her tireless, piccolo tune piercing the clear, blue air.
A robin perches on an overhead wire, his song soaring,
embracing his ownership of this new world.

A changed world.

For how long?

Viral
by Rich Hammond

It came from the far east
And unlike any beast
It’s wanting so much more
Hear it knock on your door
Just don’t dare let it in
It’s a game you can’t win
Yes, you’ve got a clean mask
Now you’ve set it a task
By standing two paces
‘Did I?’ – your heart races
Touch the door handle there
With your fingers all bare?
So your mind fails to trace
That you’re touching your face
A life reduced to fear
No, it can’t happen here
With time goes the tension
And you never mention
Stepping in your friend’s zone
It’s hard to be alone

House Arrest
by Jeanette Plumb

Numb, dumb, stalled, walled
Automatic pilot Act – do – work
Don’t think, feel, too deeply
Floating, frothing, retching, reaching nothing, blocking
Dam breaking
Longing, lurching, lamenting
Flaring, freeing, reeling, floating
In a rut, stuck, do, do, do
Hiding, comfort, stretching towards familiar
Manage, smile, conquer, win
Fighting, fleeing, floating, reeling, being
Reach, retch, regurgitate – don’t fall, don’t call
Do, do do,
Control or chaos, plan or plummet, catch or crumble
Fight, flight, freeze all
Fumbling, fleeing, falling, floating, flailing
Feeding, mask slipping
No fresh manna
Shape, escape, reel in
Real, hit that wall, keep on running
Dig deep to the store, the core
Mine it well,
Then drink, drink, drink
Living Water

Joseph’s Hug
by Elizabeth Whitaker

The joy with which you call out to me, “Grandma”, as you run into my open arms.
Small hands clasp around my neck; the squeeze; the sigh; the wonderful smell of you.
The gentle weight of your head on my shoulder, the moment of quiet we share.
And then, the tickle brings your laughter, bright and free.
For now, in “lockdown”, I must live with these memories.

ZoomDoom
by Carolyn Brookes

It’s Fo Fee Fi Fum
May it concern to whom.
I’m upside down and back to front
As soon as I press zoom.
A lolly once, or lots of space
While flying to the moon
It’s come to mean a locking-in to an airless WiFi womb.
I long to ogle legs and feet
Start out upbeat, retreat, delete.
I hate to see my trunkless head,
So much on view to be misread.
One up two down, my tiny box,
T’would even piss off Goldilocks.
An elbow nudge at cuckoo pace
I’d steal my neighbour’s body space.
Your square lights up, You’re on! SHOWTIME.
A pause, a freeze, it’s PANTOTIME!
So if you all will beg my pardon
I’ll catch you up in an outdoor garden.
Come here, meet up, let’s drink
champagne
But let’s make sure it doesn’t rain!

We said Goodbye
by Angela Fendley

That day in May
a month since you departed
from one parkside residence to another.
Only a handful gathered
– at – a – safe – distance –
No intimate hugs of comfort
no holding hands for support
six feet separates us all.
Red Kite watchful overhead.

Nearest and dearest in shades
hiding their grief
shielding their eyes.
The sun shone in your honour
Red Kite soaring high above

No seated service
just a few words at the graveside
to wish you safely on your way.
Birds sing in the trees
at your final resting place.
We said Goodbye.

A moment to reflect
on our dearly departed
and those sadly absent that day
many friends and family
safely shielding from others.

Your grandmother’s piano plays
to accompany your journey.
Your time to soar.
Red Kite awaits.

Cummings and Goings
by Sarah Miles

Life under lockdown has been crystal clear
whom we can visit and whom not go near
we followed the guidelines and duly obeyed
a levy of harsh fines for you if you strayed
onto beaches or woodlands or distant retreats
we followed their bidding, deserted the streets
STAY AT HOME, SAVE LIVES a message explicit
it would have been hard to actually miss it
but Demonic Cummings a man who knew better
wouldn’t pedestrian rules let him fetter
so sick with corona his family went forth
and drove many miles right up to the north
he was aware he should be self-isolating
not cavorting about and rules violating
not once, but twice perhaps even more
back and forth, how many times we’re not sure
trips out to castles and woods to pick bluebell
but for him now perhaps this is his death knell
as strategic politico and government adviser
he may be clever should he have been wiser?
when he decided the rules he would flout
did he not think that the truth would come out?
for his transgressions are hitting the Sunday papers
how he ‘lied and cheated’ and all those capers
The Marr Show loves to probe and goad
but Schapps is defiant and in mitigate mode
being half suited in the PM’s rose garden
doesn’t guarantee oneself a pardon
we’ve all been scared Whittyless by the pandemic
not Mr Cummings for him it’s academic
it’s Cummings who wants quarantine at the border
that doyen and prime example or order
at least an apology or he pays a huge fine
with agreement from henceforth to toe the line
or where is the incentive for those law abiding
not to just throw in the towel and come out of hiding.

The Medic
by Fatemeh Moussavi

Fear is not your friend
In this life, in this world
For fear will rob you and run away
With your precious minutes
And theirs

Fear will conflict with reason
And silence your sense of self
Even though they are the cargo
Of the very same vessel

I tell myself these truths
And yet sometimes I cannot control
The ringing in my ears
Or the pounding of my heart

I am told I can be trained
I can learn to control
I can ride above the wave
Familiarity is my friend

But will familiarity overcome fear?
Will it not, suppress it for another time?
Until silence marks the return
Of my old foe

How do I stop?
How do I change?
For I am afraid of life, and death
And the role I am to play
In their power struggle

It’s My Cage – OK
by Ian Rabjohns

Get up, get going
Spiders not in lockdown,
Dishes stacked, no Isolation there.
There’s weeds a growin’
faster than the veg’
Cake box down to just a tiny wedge.

But it can all go hang.
I make the rules in My Cage.
The when’s and where’s and what’s
of how things happen here.
This is my small world
Tucked away behind the hedge.

Ten to one no one will come today
to take note of how I am.
I’ll not be sending up red smoke.
Don’t dread the internet gone dead.
Can’t even do some work in my shed-
waiting for the swallows there to fledge.

It all hangs one thing on another
life’s demands, not government’ s commands.
If freedom came tomorrow, would I know?
Would the sun glow differently somehow?
My isolation day would go on as before–
But maybe noise would creep in from the edge.

This Dance
by Dagmar Seeland

We are still getting used
to the rhythm of this new tune,

the steps we take to keep
six feet apart, as marked out

on pavements and shop floors,
those footprints, black on yellow,

stage directions for we extras
in this worldwide drama.

We shimmy past each other
in supermarket aisles, line up

for cashiers behind perspex shields
twist to avoid the shop staff.

Recently we waltzed through life
not caring where we trod.

Now, moving to a different beat,
We struggle to find our feet

flailing in this limbo.

Perfect Storm
by Ilse Pedler

The storm is a doctor in a teacup
rain lashes down in sugar cubes,
she tries to hold back the milk wind
with a face mask made of snorkels,
sees clownfish in her peripheral vision.

At the end of her shift she constructs
a ladder from discarded lemon wedges
climbs through a window to her bathroom
showers in waves of gratitude,
hopes it is enough.

The New Normal
by Kelly Hunter

We hang out of windows on Thursdays,
banging pans to show our support
to a nation of nurses we had previously
neglected.

Children learn not to hug.
Instead they wave their small hands
as we sidestep each other on pavements –

like dodging mines,
tiny, human bombs.

The devil makes work for idle thumbs,
so we find try to solace in small pleasures:
rainbows, the postal service
the weekly saucepan lids

And as the new normal carves its routine,
and the nightly news delivers its lies,

ever so gently,
we riot.

The Virus
by Angela Nix

We will fight this hand in hand
And hope we don’t go to the promised land
We will mind one another
Sister and brother

I know it’s a pain being stuck in your home
But look you have your mobile phone
You can send a message, have a bit of fun
or go to the park and have a run

Keep yourself busy while you are at home
And remember you are not alone
The whole world is the same
We are all in this game

We will win the battle and look forward to better days
Rainbows and sunny rays
So keep the rules up and play your part
Jump up and down it’s good for your heart

We known it’s cruel to stick to the rule
But you don’t want to be a fool
So keep the good work up, it will pay off in the end
And we will all be free to meet a friend

what I’ve learnt from lockdown
by Michael Field

lockdown has taught me to appreciate everything big and small
oh but just think of all the family time
cracking up jokes and laughing all the same
karaokeing through the night
dreaming of going back to school and seeing friends
outside clapping for the NHS and all the key workers
walking through the countryside with family
never stopping and going the extra mile to help other people

Shielding
by Kathleen Thorpe

’m sorry dad, I can’t visit today
I’m not allowed to leave home.
I’m shielding you see and I have to stay safe
so I’m sat sitting here on my own.

the country’s locked down from Fife down to Dover
and I don’t know when it’ll be over.
it might be six months dad, it might be a year
but don’t worry about me, I’ll be still waiting here.

Just listen to Boris and all of his cronies,
and don’t let your mind fill with fear.
Just think of the days when we’ll sit and gaze
while sharing a bottle of beer.

Fun
by Thomas Byford

Fun on the playground, fun everywhere,
Balls being thrown in the air.
Snacks being crunched anywhere,
Fun on the playground, fun everywhere.

Friends chatting about their day,
Screaming and shouting as people run away.
Children celebrating as they score a goal,
Fun on the playground, fun everywhere.

Birds singing sweet songs in the raggedy trees,
Kids swinging on the tree trunk and skipping on the tyres,
Fun on the playground, fun everywhere.

Freshly cut grass I can smell in the air,
The sound of footsteps anywhere,
Fun on the playground, fun everywhere.

Home Privilege
by Bryony Lewis

Is it ok to be ok?
Don’t say it too loudly, you’ll look callous
Don’t extol the virtues of solitude, you’ll sound insensitive

No one cares how many blue tits visited your feeder today
No one needs your sourdough starter, you cold brew coffee,
Your organic, home grown self satisfaction

Because we are all in this together
Until we are not

Saving Grace
by Margaret Healy

Today I have been brave or stupid, I’ll let you decide
Twelve weeks was just too long for me to stay locked up inside
It’s been so hard and something snapped, I’d had about enough
Lockdown life, for me at least, had proved to be too tough
Normally outgoing, I am quite a cheery soul
But loneliness and solitude has taken such a toll
At eighty-four, I am at risk and vulnerable to the virus
I understand the Government has a duty to advise us
However, and I say this, knowing some folks won’t agree
Other people don’t know what it feels like being me
And so today, undaunted, I took myself outside
Walking in the sun felt good, it cannot be denied
I sat down on a bench just to take in nature’s glory
A child nearby was listening as her mother read a story
She looked at me and asked if I would like to listen too?”
I was already, but said “Thanks, I don’t mind if I do”
“Me and mum come every day, she helps me with my reading”
Human contact, kindness too, that’s just what I was needing
Her mother finished reading and reminded me again
See you here tomorrow then, around about half- ten
I walked home feeling lighter with a smile upon my face
A mother and her child might prove to be my saving grace
Something to look forward to and friendships made anew
With a little help, I think I’ll see this lockdown through

Lockdown Doggerel
by David Winbow

Smile at us, pass us, pay us
as little as you can pay.
You skim off the best, we manage on less,
but it’s we who will save the day.

Smile at us, pass us, avoid us-
we only stack the shelves,
nurse the sick, empty the bins,
while others save themselves.

Smile at us, pass us, ignore us,
but remember what we did-
we kept the country on its feet,
while others ran, and hid.

Smile at the graves as you pass them,
but remember how we died-
unprotected, doing our best,
while others ran, to hide.

Smile at us, pass us, despise us,
but what we say is true-
we were the backbone of Britain,
we deserved better than you.

Love Amidst The Pandemic
by Medina Valzado

As I was sitting, looking to the clearing,
As the first day of lockdown begin,
The sky is calm and inviting,
In the night I heard the ambulance crying…

Under the moonlight I can see
the empty streets where I used to be,
I wish this deadly thing will end,
so hugs and kisses will send…

The singing of the birds can be heard in the air,
Like lullabies in my lonely ears,
It was the second day of lockdown as I can remember,
When our crazy love happen…

We can hear the saddest melodies,
as the pandemic cases rise,
But you comfort me with your sweet little flying kisses,
And those red petal roses,

Lying in the dark corner of my room,
With these days of loom,
My love for you blooms and blooms,
No one can stop nor this doom…

This moment of langour is like a solitude,
But I found it felicitous instead of being bored,
As we exchange dulcet messages,
In the middle of this predicament…

A moonlight tryst — to sneak for a call,
In lonely days of quarantine, the ebullience of happy lovers,
—a silhouette of happiness,

I found tranquillity amidst of this chaos,
As you promise me a love to eternity,
far beyond moon and back,
to no limit plus more…

A Clue On What To Do
by Ilham Nagi

If only I were sent a clue,
Something like a sign on what to do:
That would help my daily life
Which at the moment is far from paradise,
We’re stuck at home away from friends,
Maybe it’s time to make amends,
Either look for your long lost hobby,
Or jump around your back garden like a little froggy.
Look around and be inventive,
Keep active and be attentive,
All you have to think and say,
Is you know what there’s plenty for me to do in a day!
Go wild build your own creation
Who knows you could even plan a future vacation.
Your not the only one hoping for corona to go away;
Let us pray that it will someday.
Was this your sign your lucky clue?
Just look around there’s plenty to do,
You just gotta to be the best of YOU.

Granny’s little ones
by Jacqui Anderson

In a fields near our house are buttercups and daisies
Where the moths and the butterflies dance with the fairies

Grasshoppers and crickets sing out their song
The nights shine bright and the days are long

One day very soon the little ones will say Can we go round to the field and play
Where we’ll laugh with the fairy’s and play in the grass with our granny and Grandad at long long last

Under the microscope
by Jacqueline Pemberton

On first sight it could have been
an undiscovered planet,
an exotic flower or a sea anemone,
We might have puzzled at its origin,
Been bewildered by its purpose.

What might have been soft rose buds
to scatter on a lover’s bed
are lethal blooms; stamens spiked
with lipid poison to pierce our defences
when we are at our weakest.

This blurred orb mutates on our screens
from science lab to prime time T.V,
Excreting globules like molten rock,
Multiplying even as we hold our breath
and close our eyes.

It is the wallpaper in our rooms,
Curtains our mornings and our evenings,
Embeds itself into the woodwork,
Tucks into every frightened corner
and steals the cushions of our dreams.

Latching onto the lining of our lungs
It tears straight to the heart of us,
Hijacking cells in a forced and fatal coupling,
A brutal consummation: a pitiless gestation.

An Arrangement With An Orangutan
by Jayne Livesay

Go mad, Orangutan
Swing from the lampshade
Swing from the washing line
But don’t forget our arrangement, Orangutan
Don’t forget what time
When the shops are all closed
When we’re locked down inside
That’s when i’ll go ape
Somewhere around 9:00

The plan is, Orangutan
To crack open all the Easter eggs
That were meant for posting
Gobble them whole, silver paper, the lot
No one can give us a roasting
The weather is too hot to stay in
But we’ve been told we must halt
Until unleased into the world again
A world we once wanted to bolt

Our arrangement, Orangutan
Don’t forget our sign
For its time to bring out the cheese and crackers
For its time to crack open the wine
Then we’ll swing from the lampshade
Swing from the washing line
We’ll swing with the radio on
To Jazz and Ragtime
You on the Saxophone, Orangutan
Me on the Clari’
We’ll take ‘Take Five’
For five hours
Take our time
Yes, we’ll tarry

Don’t worry, Orangutan
You’ll soon be swinging back in the trees
With your Orangutan thumbs
And Orangutan knees
Catching Orangutan termites
And Orangutan Flees
But Oh, Mr Orangutan Please
Don’t catch Covid 19 desease

After the rigors
by Tony Denis

After the rigors
We’ll go through our Tik Tok videos and music
Grinning from ear to ear
Forgetting normal life

There’ll be more reminiscence
As we’ll all have stories to tell
Screens will no longer interest us
Since we’re obsessed and uptight with it

Jewels will be seen as vanity
And survival, a priority
Even atheist will thank God
With genuine gratitude

Medics will be remembered
For leading in the battlefield
When soldiers were weak
Indeed, they’re the unsung heroes of the front line

Loneliness will become a normality
And we’ll learn to embrace the slightest freedom

Cherry Blossom Leaves
by Jayne Livesay

Cherry Blossom leaves the trees
Urging summer on

As the virus spreads
Like a million petals
Blowing through Japan

Leaves us clinging to our homes
Once a haven now a tomb

Springtide has passed away
Left empty streets
Mourning littered bloom

Spring 2020 
by Eileen Kane

It’s twenty twenty, and the streets are empty
But the hospital wards are full with plenty
When this is over, there will be spaces at the table
From the elders, the ailing and the not so able

Meanwhile the sun rises in the east and sets in the west
The tide still rolls in and out, Mother Earth knows best
The lambs are being born and seeds still sprout
Despite this, we, man, woman and child, can’t go out!

The plants and flowers continue to bloom
Even with the warnings, of doom and gloom
The air in the cities is getting cleaner by the day
Is the hole in the ozone layer going away?

Mankind has came through this in times of the past
We will come through this, but some things won’t last
Air travel, foreign holidays, may become a distant memory
Something that we did, when we were free

We must always live with faith and hope
And keep washing our hands for twenty seconds with soap
Take care of yourself, your spirit, body and mind
And in the midst of it all, remember to be kind.

The unknown enemy:–
by Datta Chanda

The unknown enemy of all,
Is he big or is he small?
Some say he is round and spikiest of them all,
I also hear he is the deadliest of them all.
He is here, he is there,
Travelling time to time in the air.
Young, old or small,
He doesn’t care at all.
He has made the roads clear,
For now, he is our greatest fear.
The birds are free,
Chirping on the wonderful tree.
The whales are swimming, the deer, galloping,
Wondering where the humans are who tried to destroy us all.
But I do believe our faith in god,
Who is the mightiest of all,
Will help us conquer this fear once in for all,
I hope a wonderful better tomorrow is near for us all.

Open Skies
by Alwyn Marriage

So huge, so blue, no
white of contrails tracing
distant routes, as aeroplanes
are still in lock-down. Swifts
and swallows have arrived
to feed and procreate in safety,
in return for which they’ll etch
graceful graffiti on our sky.

This peaceful scene inspires hope
that as more normal life returns,
it might be possible to retain
such clarity and calm, to begin afresh,
to build and then maintain a world
where humans flourish, but that’s also
fit for animals and birds, insects and sea
creatures, mighty trees and even tiny flowers.

Corona
by Oliver Dennen

Some say its beer some say its a virus
so let me tell you some tips for the coronavirus
You cannot stay in bars or clubs
and don’t think about going to pubs

First it was good we were kept off school
but now it seems we were all fools
Now I’m staying in quarantine
and spent my birthday as a teen

I paced the house back to back
and saw this shiny black plaque
Now the trees are bright green
This is life with Covid-19

Through London – – Lockdown
by Louise Wilson

Our trip to london was A okay,
all the traffic going the other way,
no one to see but the odd jogger,
Walker, bike rider or even shopper
Lots of statues, parks and trees,
Standout against the gentle breeze.
It is lovely to find that London is standing fine,
Having a big breath in this sad time,

Soon enough we will all be back, making poor London again cough and hack,
With the fumes and the bustle of the motor cars,
Hiding the architecture which are truly the stars,

But for now the City lives and breathes,
through emerging flowers and happy trees.
Despite the horrid time we are all seeing,
The wildlife and flora are growing and healing.
Could this virus have a thin silver lining?
As the environment is veritably shining.

Love London? love life?
Maybe there is an end to our strife,
and we will appreciate once again, relaxing and living,
not rushing,
but giving our time to see our planet bloom and helping our wildlife and heritage zoom,
The reward is there,
for us all to share.

So keep calm and follow the rules and we will emerge with better tools,
to enjoy our world as it is so very small and fragile and needs a break,
A holiday from the human plague, we have Corona virus,
But the world has us.

Like Me
by Mairead Cartwright

The virus came and the people stayed home ,
And waited for better times to come
And they were like me.
They could no longer work or socialise,
They covered their faces and shielded their eyes,
And they were like me.
They struggled for money , shopping and food,
Gave what they could to causes for good,
And they were like me.
Their lives were paused, vacations on hold,
They worried and waited with each cough and cold,
And they were like me.
On Thursdays each week on the stroke of eight,
They’d clap for the carers; and waved from the gate,
And they were like me.
But as the weeks passed, they longed to be free,
To reclaim the old normality,
And they were like me.
And when it’s all over, they’ll all hit un-pause,
Again they will travel and revell because ,
They made It, their future is bright, they are well,
Unlike me .

These Tough Times
by Mahdi Zaman

Wake up, Eat, Stay Home, Sleep
We’re trapped inside and all we can do it weep
How something we can’t even see
Taken so much and caged us to our homes

Normality, Freedom and even lives
It takes all of these things and still it thrives
But what else is there for us to do
Just stay at home and see this through

It drives some mad, it drives some insane
For not seeing people brings so much pain
It just brings sadness and fear
With all the boredom and losing people so dear

A lot of us are fine with a lotta time
But is it all terrible?

Instruments, Writing and any other hobbies
Lets not waste all this time acting like Zombies
We should see it as a opportunity to do new things
Who knows what new talents this time brings

We can sit here and complain about the world
Or we could have fun with what we have
Maybe its time to be grateful and stop seeing this as a curse

Because for a lot of us things could be much much worse…

Living In A Care Home
by Anthony C. Edwards

I am living a care home
I am not allowed out but to the back yard
What do I see there but I a garden gnome
Proving that even when it looks as if times are hard
Bright figures can smile, to brighten up gloom
In these difficult times I know
I can be cheered up in the midst of doom
And one day, to my place I will go.

A Walk in the Park
by Anthony Edwards

Shops beyond yonder, with no end
All appear to be closed down
Listening to news, day by day
Sad news just to make me frown
In the midst of these times of grief
I take a walk to the park
For a little light relief
Are there some people coming my way?
Away from them I had better stay
Social distancing is how to act
To prevent a massive viral impact

Willow Pattern
a lockdown walk
by Alison Brackenbury

Town’s edge. A lane. A bridge. A field
marched by the battered stumps of maize,
lit by hills, broad as the moon.
The cracks in April clay will yield
rich oyster shells to feed poor days;
pipes; pigs’ skulls; best, we find soon,

smashed pottery. And most is blue,
slipped from quick hands, a child’s, a maid’s,
to flags. Were harsh words spoken?
I brush a latticed rim while you
scoop one white scrap whose two blue birds,
smudged lovers, soar unbroken.

In Victorian England, oysters were a cheap food.

The ‘Willow pattern’ on china depicts the story of two lovers, one rich, one poor. After death, the lovers are
re-united as birds.

Disabled
by Hannah Hodgson

In Italy, our bodies were found decaying in care home beds.
In China, we died of starvation.
In America, our faces were obscured by a sacrifice the weak sign.
In England, we’re being murdered to save the economy.
Supermarkets are rationing, NHS volunteers are being called up,
home sewn scrubs are replacing state sanctioned ones.
Frailty scores mean I won’t get a ventilator.
The Government has forced me to become
one in a generation of victims.

Just One Day
by Kelly Nealon Marsh

Not the most productive day for me
Not moved from my desk or the PC
My mind on other things
Nothing in particular just a wondering

Uncertain times for all of us
Feel a bit sad, down and low
When will this end? we don’t know

People all around us
Feel very much that same
Have moments in time
When we think we’ll go insane

But then you hear a voice
It’s warm, it’s soft, it cares
It asks you how you’re feeling
Everyone stops looks and stares

You didn’t say a word
But your silence shouted loud
You’re present on the call
But you never said a sound

Your ask how you’re doing
You answer you’re ok
But they know that’s not the case
Your answers different today

Your team know you better
Than you ever thought they did
They care about you genuinely
Like a mother with her kid

They offer you their friendship
Their support
Their Advice
They wrap their arms around you
It feels calm warm and nice

They ask you how you’re feeling
You can’t answer you don’t know
You need to take a minute wait a second take a mo

It’s hard for every one of us
We are all in this together
A storm that each one of us
Simply has to weather

One day this will all be over
This will all be done
We can all return to normal
And have a little fun

I’m thankful for the people
Share your joy, your sadness your pain
And give you reassurance it’ll be ok again!!.

Not Visiting My Aunt
by Heather Cook

So often have I sat
watching you kiss pot plants with your fingers
on long, slow, glowing afternoons.
We’d sit, knees almost touching,
cups of tea forgotten,
the indoor peace enhanced by voices
shrieking down the cobbled way.

And now I cannot visit.
At first I railed against the rules,
but there have been some precious things –
words that might have never formed
between the cooking and the washing up;
shared words that found their place in letters, cards,
and now shine quietly in my life.

Gardening in Lockdown
by James Ryan

Everybody is gardening in lockdown,
Seems to be the only show in town.
I leave the house, walk down the street,
Many many people, it’s gardeners whom I meet.
Everybody is gardening in lockdown.

New age gardeners with floral inspiration,
After lockdown they’ll inspire the nation.
People will venture into pastures new,
Thinking their talents were only few!
New ages gardeners with floral inspiration.

Gardening in Lockdown brings families together,
The bond is beautiful, to last forever.
Parents and children all get stuck in,
The loving bond through thick and thin.
Gardening in Lockdown brings families together.

Get in the garden and make some hay,
Especially with all the trouble in the world today.
Bring happiness to friends and family,
Gardening in Lockdown for all to see!
Get in the garden and make some hay.

Gardening in Lockdown is heavenly bliss,
The flowers and trees give a loving kiss
Gardening provides celestial serenity,
To share with everyone in complete entirity.
Gardening in Lockdown is heavenly bliss.

Boomer remover
by Huw Sherlock

Here comes the Boomer remover,
A geriatric hoover,
come to sweep up your complacency
And puncture your dismissivenes
so don’t dissolve into hissy fits,
Or lectures on snowflake millennials,
Your snide and tested perennials,
‘End the lockdown now,
Long live the new normal’ is your siren cry,
but another, better world is coming,
It’s no use trying to deny,
The pulse of history is running,
Out of your control,
So be a part of the solution,
you’ve got to choose your role,
And reconnect with evolution,
Now, tell me what’s your ‘verse?
No point in trying to fake it
We know nothing could be worse
Than your ‘business as usual shit’,
No matter how beguiling;
Ecocide must consume us,
the original sin that leads to the fall,
Is that the legacy of the boomers?
So forget the status quo,
too late now for reconciling,
Sit down uncle, you’re blocking my flow.

Locked Up…Not Down
Richard Percy

Ar fink we’ll be togevva,
Wotevva ve wevva
Togevva forevva,
Ar fink vat’s what we’ll be;
As brothers fight with brothers
And as lovers shout at lovers
Can’t we go and visit Mother’s
For another cup of tea?

No!

We can’t hug one another
‘Cos the governors above us
Say their numbers have discovered
We must never really meet,

Are you listening, Dominic?

We must stay two meeters, separate,
Which makes kissing somewhat desperate,
And this awful imposition
Kills the concerts for musicians,

Could anyfing be worse?

Well, be-curse we’re getting older
We must do as we are told,
Er else the Virus will devour us
And that simply will not do!
We must fight by staying out of sight,
Until they say it’s quite alright
To go outside and sing and play
Be-corz the Mighty Pause
Is orl togevva well and truly
Gorn forevva.

Yea!

Poem for these times
by Brian Mostoller

Once again the world
has knotted us up
and we jolt against the yoke
to drag existence onward.
The fear of death always the whip.
Before this, we moved
fast enough and busied enough
to keep death from mind.
We buckled in with smartphones and
earbuds and engines and airspeed.
We buckled in with the biggest,
the fastest, and the scariest roller coaster ever.
But now we have slowed, and he walks
with us, hand upon the yoke.
Yesterday, the Coronavirus forced a pent-up daughter and me
on a rare walk to the small college near our home.
Blinded classrooms, peeling playbills, distant birds
we passed in silence . . . .
Blinded and hitched
we are now forced to focus.
Once again we are
re-minded of our role.
We have planted this field
with viruses, with investments, with violence, with love.

Now we reap.
Seed is always a part of the grain.
And he has once again provided.
From Pasteur, from Crashes,
from Blood, from Eden
we are together again
under the sun’s slow rise
pulling a world
filled with
hummingbirds perched on fountains
walks with daughters
and lessons from a deserted college campus.

Last Time
by Clive Grewcock

This time
I am on the outside of nature
Looking out at the inside of the open wilderness,
Watching nature sigh a breath and spread its wings.
Doing what it should, with freedom at its own peace.
Nature will remember
This time
When the pecking order has been shuffled
And correctly re-aligned.
Waiting on the inside for
A time
When I am ready to re-emerge, with
Nature looking out at me from its open wilderness.
Am I like a specimen peering from behind glass?
Sometimes
It surrounds on a curious breeze or on the forceful
Wings of a weighty moth, dancing around my light,
And is allowed to return inside to the whisper of the landscape
Seeing more than me, as I am
Looking at my reflection, waiting to be invited inside.
Valuing time.
Have we used up our luck,
Had our last chance with the cards we were dealt, blown it for this
Lifetime?
It is wild inside, in there. In the open wilderness.
Nature is a survivor and we might be forgiven
To venture back inside one
Last time.

Strange Times
by Jennie Turnbull

When the streets are silent
but the houses are full,
and the shops are shuttered
but the delivery drivers busy,
when we queue quietly outside
supermarket and chemist;

when the children are home
but it is no holiday,
and the kitchen is classroom,
and the garden is gym,
when screen time is so much more
than idle distraction;

when the traffic is quieter
and the songbirds rejoice,
the air is clearer
and the sky is blue,
and we’re grateful for window-box
garden and yard;

when there is time to sit
because there is nowhere to go,
and there is time to play
because we’re all at home,
and we fight and we shout,
and we laugh and we moan;

when we sleep over lunchtime
and lie awake at 4am,
when we cry over kittens
but listen stunned to the news
and we’re thankful to be safe
learning what essentials are;

when we leave a parcel at your door
and walk swiftly away,
when we wave to you through glass
then call you later on the phone,
when words of love must stand
in place of the hug we’d rather share

we are novices navigating
this strange new land
where distance is kindness
and kindness is all.

I’m Fat (my trouble with Lockdown)
by Andy Walker

These scales aren’t right – they say I’m fat
It must be all those biscuits I’ve had
My clothes don’t fit – it’s so very sad
And I can’t climb the stairs without feeling bad

I’ve had enough, I must lose weight
I can’t go on in this awful state
Diets are no good, they really don’t work
I’ll go without treats – although it’ll hurt

So out go biscuits and chocolate bars too
I’ll eat more fruit and exercise I’ll do
But hold on – that seems too drastic
Maybe my trousers just need more elastic

No, I really must get a grip and be strong
I know being this fat is terribly wrong
Right, where do I start – oh yes – some salad
But that meat pie would taste better on my palette

Oh, it’s all too much for my poor old head
I need to go and lay down on my bed
Yes, that will help to sooth my headache
But first …. just another tiny slice of cake

Until we meet again
by Andy Walker

Keep well and strong each day my friend
Until we meet again

You’re in my prayers each day my friend
Until we meet again

For health and peace each day my friend
Until we meet again

Superheroes don’t need a cape
by Ayaan Singhal( 9 year)

Not flying in the sky,
Not jumping from the high,
Not a name or a sign,
Saving lives, yours and mine.

Working day and night,
To make everything alright,
Without a sleep or a rest,
Always doing their best.

Close encounters they have had,
Fighting a battle with the bad,
Doctors, Nurses and everyone else,
Not worrying about themselves.

Saving lots of lives,
Without an armour or a drape,
YES! You are Super Heroes,
Who don’t need a cape.

A Similar Lockdown
by Patricia McCarthy

Draw the Curtains

Draw the curtains, light the candle.
Time to sit as the Brontes did,
the wind rattling its commentary

to windows and doors – as if ghosts
of loved ones crave re-entry.

Time to make up once-upon-a-times,
ever-afters, happy or not, and, turn
by turn, to sharpen narrative skills

on the fire’s licking flames. Knights
and knaves from Gondal are here still,

worlds wait to be peopled and placed
from Angria, Glass Town – Diary papers
and Charlotte’s Roe Head journal

to blend fiction with fact. Take out
your pens and paper, fill old inkwells

and, for your own wobbly cursives,
become graphologists, deciphering more
about your selves than ever you knew.

Emily’s fierce faithful dog, Keeper,
on guard in your psyches, will escort you

over your minds’ wildest moors.
No need for heather, rocky crags – simply
fall over the edges of your temperament

into each story’s special balm. The sisters –
and even the brother – might experiment

with you in travelling without moving
to emulate, in a villa, the writers
of the Decameron who reeled off tales

to avoid epidemics of fear in a Plague
far off. There, your shared travails

could compose tragedies, no soaps,
around Branwell’s call-girls and drink,
Charlotte’s obsession with a married man…

Fight off the invader. Emily will scribble –
with yours – her secrets, fast as she can.

Morning Star
by Penny Sharman

Even Venus, my morning lamplight
is now just a flicker of a lighthouse’s
flashlight, beacon from the window.
Each morning the sunrise above
Carrbrook hills appears through gauze
as light hits my retina, hits the clock face
that ticks history forward, leaves me
with thoughts of black filling my landscapes,
the dark lane, the cobbled path
down to Tame valley, resistance of
clog and soot. I take jackdaws for granted,
their daily preening on chimney pots,
how delicately they see each flea.
Even Venus, my morning lamplight
is only the smallest of fires.

Keep close from afar
by Nina Neophitou

For 3 long months now
We’ve stayed inside
The whole world on lockdown
Hoping to save lives

Keeping our distance
Stay 2 meters apart
A strange new existence
Seeing loved ones from afar

Talk through the window
Wave across the street
Blow kisses on video
For we can not meet

We clap on a thursday
For our NHS heroes
We’re grateful in every way
For the courage they show us

The statistics are scary
But they’re just numbers and facts
Until it hits one of your family
Then nothing can distract

From the horror and heartache
The realness and pain
Of not being able to hold your loved one
As they slip away

It didn’t quite hit me
The scale of the matter
Until my Mum called me
To say, “it’s your YiaYia…”

Those statistics you read
Aren’t just percentages and numbers
They’re like you and me
They’re someone’s family members

The world’s slowly returning
To a new normality
Some of us mourning
…There’s one less in our family

In time things will change
And the virus will pass
But for now, for their sake
Keep close from afar

If it hasn’t affected you
Or your family directly
You can not know who
It might hurt respectively

This virus treads quietly
Please don’t show resistance
Now you know it can hurt you or me
Keep keeping your distance

Ease in Lockdown
by Joanna Taylor

And I
Am half in love with easeful life. With the stilly vibrations of a world passing through caverns that echo
With the silence of the stars. Unclouded by fumes and the haze of streetlights, they gather in the sky, finally relax their distance.
They party mutely, ease their lights on. A very heaven for an unspeaking upwards gazing, falling into the dark and the quiet

Solitary 
by Andrew Barnes

Walking silently through the world,
feet barely touching the ground,
my mark is tiny as a spore,
grey-green lichen on a grit-grey stone.

On the third day of seeing no-one,
senses reach another level of awareness,
sounds in the house acute,
an insect observed moves through dust.

I pass the station, could catch a train,
to anywhere in the country,
nobody awaits my return, but I don’t,
I just stand on the platform, watching.

The sun is bright today, but cold,
the earth is frozen, nothing moves
but this constant movement,
I look in the lake, the reflection of my shoes.

My sister called, I didn’t answer,
I’m way too far out, by now
beyond telephone lines, to speak
would disturb the alignment of atoms.

I step to the pool edge, feel its pull,
imagine one stride more,
but I could never take it,
too big a risk of a minimal ripple.

Lifting the Roof
by Heather Stevens

Looking out at streets so empty and bare,
rainbows on windows showing that we care,
for an army of warriors in the NHS,
neighbours clapping each Thursday with no duress,
thankful to workers out in the field,
whilst I’m sitting here having to shield.

This deep sense of gratitude to neighbours, family and friends,
that kept me pushing towards the end,
sitting silent with nothing but thoughts of unease,
and sounds of rustling leaves of a gentle breeze,
birds in song, breathing sweet scent of air,
thankful to glimpse back and know this was there.

Testing bodies, minds some can say,
time passes slowly day by day,
words spoken of beautiful souls lost
with this manmade thing that takes at no cost,
thousands and thousands of shimmering tears
fall, caught in a heavenly lake
and angels take each tear for their own keepsake.

Millions of us did pull through
to show who’s left what we ought to do,
to fight this virus and fight we will
to find a vaccine to stop the kill,
and those who isolate keep to rule
and many that don’t are deemed as fools.

Leaders of this world take time to think
a message from nature’s brink,
that me, we and all this race
continue with pure land, sea, aerospace,
forward on, lift the roof that clouds this world,
so we can pass it on.

thankful that I knew you
by Ruth Esther Gilmore

this morning i watched hope flutter by
on the wings of a monarch butterfly

and per definition it landed on the window sill
of my wounded bleeding heart

a never-ending blast of warmth
spread itself through the curtains

of my soul deleting at will
my pain i had started

to believe i would never lose the pain again
where can i hide to avoid the next silent arrow?

how should i deal with loss? how can
i find happiness without you? i

can only smile and remember our shared past
and be thankful that i knew you

Corona Sapiens
by Mandy Ross

We don’t ask to be born or made. Arrive
in this host world alive and raring to survive.
Plenty here to help us thrive.

Following our inborn drive
we make more of ourselves, strive
to ensure we (and perhaps our kind) survive.

‘But what are you for?’ asks our host, still alive,
though hardly seeming now to thrive.
What purpose is there, but alive and thrive?

under the signs
by Ruth Esther Gilmore

where the beetles of metal
meet and snooze

and the polished wood
of a ranzquilla looms

under the signs
of the camel carouse

the flap of the foot
aligns the open tombs

agonizo decided
history acorn-sapped

all fair al faro
viruses reading doom

with a shudder i refrain
the mine from drinking

the raw deal in the sailing
of souls

leave off the lead
chains of binging and co

for a free soul
needs a freed head

and a free head
gives a freed soul

in these uncertain times
by Ruth Esther Gilmore

in these uncertain times
when we traverse through
the valleys of terror and tears

when salty waves
of desolation crash upon us
and when the weight of the universe

pulls on the strings of our hearts
trying to anchor us
in a wide moor of misery

we will not tarry in the sinister dark
or pitch our tents
between the tribulations

we will with a song and a verse
conquer together our tears and difficulties
thereby rising higher than the eagles

– we will cast aside all fear and doubt
dear hope with love and faith
now carry us over the sinister dark

Growing Around
by Ruthie Nightingale

There’s sadness, sometimes anger peering from your eyes
clues of empty space
They’re only slight, stirred in with smiles
tucked behind chuckles and sprinkles of delight
You’re quite polite

Imprisoned here with every need attended to
as docile Spring rolls over for a tummy rub
and ever-craved-for time scooped up
rolled out just so –
we’ll make a pie of every rainbow dream
and eat with home-made fresh ice cream

These should be days for space and peer-led thoughts
for Kevin arms swatting at our tired ideas.
So can you grow
And reach to touch the stars
sow larger reasoning and fantasies
than ours?

As weeks go by – here’s you
sangfroid in situ, equanimity excelled
softly walking your inner goddess round –
I hear your future leaping galaxies
to whisper welcomes with her backflipped ‘yes’…
I like that sound.

my answer to covid-19
by Ruth Esther Gilmore

i am not alone
the feeling of loss

will always remain
cannot be explained

but i will be carried
through my lifetime ache

a rebirth of our city
a remaking of our lives

comfort is found in the seams
of our society

and in the enduring
consoling spirit of humanity

Windflower
by Sarah-Jane Crowson

Windflower
Dispels malicious rumours caused by fake news
Six pale, pointed petals like pincers.
Solitary, separate, sharp
scented like sorrel or fox.
Sown in the gardens of the curious,
it procureth much spitting. It sits
under the dominion of Mars.

Allowable Exercise – 2nd. May 2020
by Barry Gray

I yearned to reach the city’s edge.
So early and so quiet when I left
that as I crossed the street
I heard sewers whisper their rude secrets.

At the last business park unsleeping cameras
followed my awkward zig- zag progress
between dead silent factories
as yard by yard my image was the baton they passed on.

At the first field spring had arrived,
a bride that will not be denied her proper time,
she’d frosted the grass with pignut flowers,
had undersown the blossoming hawthorn hedge with stitchwort.

Dog walkers now emerge
to tread their weary, same old, same old laps,
some counting footsteps on their phones.
Their dogs, unleashed, run eagerly ahead.

Behind me I can hear the city waking
as ambulances wail their banshee song.
All day they’ll weave this lurid thread
into the city’s warp and weft.

last stanza of 2019
by Whit Flores

the story begins with the
last lines of a poem
a cheerful set of words
I wrote to wrap up
2019 with a pretty bow

“we’re just along for the ride
driven by the beat of time
and in 2020?
you’re gonna see me dancing”

I wrote this, so sure that light was coming
before I knew I would need another surgery
before science once again
became a debate on the world stage
before the world fell apart

in the fear-
hidden in hordes of toilet paper
and scraps of cloth sewn together on dusty machines,
left untouched for years until we needed a way to help
the smallest hand, the lightest remark

to honor those taking their
last breaths on shared ventilators
and the ones who are missing sleep to stop this-
hiding in plain sight
are pieces of our humanity
we cannot afford to lose sight of

There was one thing
I guessed correctly, though not a prediction at all;
life is out of our control
we can enjoy happiness as it comes
we can try to help others find it
and we can recognize our sadness
but at the end of the day,
at the end of the year,
life
and death
are out of hands

and maybe that is the only way
we can be free enough to dance

The Lockdown Lament
by Aamira Challenger

Breathe
In
Out
The drops you exhale
Rain down on my skin
like
Ash
Settling into the cracks
Of my freshly washed hands
Dry
Dry
So dry
From the hand gel that was fiercely won
When I knocked
Several shoppers to the ground
Oh what a sound

You stand too close
Breath on my neck
‘Move’ I say
‘two metres away’
Yet here you are
On your daily
Walk of the line
Trying to thrive
While I try to survive
The peril that is
Being locked in with

The in-law
He calls
Mother.

Now wash your hands
by Huw Sherlock

Don’t give me no Wackaboob
Don’t give me no MotherSmother
Telling me to isolate,
Don’t make me your brother!
From HMG to the H To the M to the R to the C
I’m packing my P60,
So you can’t audit me
Ain’t filing no returns
I’m not paying VAT
Who you calling non Dom
Cummings ain’t my cup of tea.
Boris on Lockdown
Rishi broke the bank
Can’t get into ASDA
I’m going to get a tank
For my homies
Too late to get away now,
No planes,
no trains,
not playing no games
Ain’t never going to back down
Government’s going to pay my tent
Before they start the crackdown.
So………….
Don’t gimme no Wackaboob
Don’t gimme no MotherSmother
If we all isolate
Can we still love each other?

We are the Mother’s mothers
Our choice to Wackaboob,
It’s time to isolate,
So we don’t lose one another.

Sisters on furlough
About time our truth was spoke
Do we want to go back to
the madness and the smoke
Of pollution choking all our kids
Working 3 gigs to survive
And you want to call that woke?
Soldiers on the corner
Doing county lines
Sell your sister for a ten bag
But the Feds don’t want to know
They’ve got the ‘rona boner
Wanna check if your buying wrongbow
Or sunbathing in the park
Gotta be a loner,
We’re all just flying solo
So….
We are the Mother’s mothers
Just have to Wackaboob,
Corona’s here to stay
So one way or another
give up our dreams and say
We will protect our brothers

Boomer Remover
Huw Sherlock

Here comes the Boomer remover,
A geriatric hoover,
come to sweep up your complacency
And puncture your dismissivenes
so don’t dissolve into hissy fits,
Or lectures on snowflake millennials,
Your snide and tested perennials,
‘End the lockdown now,
Long live the new normal’ is your siren cry,
but another, better world is coming,
It’s no use trying to deny,
The pulse of history is running,
Out of your control,
So be a part of the solution,
you’ve got to choose your role,
And reconnect with evolution,
Now, tell me what’s your ‘verse?
No point in trying to fake it
We know nothing could be worse
Than your ‘business as usual shit’,
No matter how beguiling;
Ecocide must consume us,
the original sin that leads to the fall,
Is that the legacy of the boomers?
So forget the status quo,
too late now for reconciling,
Sit down uncle, you’re blocking my flow.

Rainbows in windows
Kelvin Smith

Anxiety soared in my two-up two-down
Hanging around in my dressing gown,
I searched for a smile but found only a frown
The street was so quiet, just like a ghost town.

I sensed that depression was sinking in
My heart was thumping, my head in a spin,
I looked in the mirror, i couldn’t even grin
I hadn’t been eating, my face was so thin.

I needed to talk but there was no one around
So erie and weary, during lockdown
My thoughts were deep and very profound
I was too scared to get the bus into town.

Then i saw a Rainbow with colours so bright
That a child had crayoned in a window of light
For the Nightingales fighting this horrendous plight
It made me believe it would all be alright.

Rainbows in windows made all my pain fly
And lifted the spirits of all passers by
Rainbows in Windows express battle cry
And call to the Heavens way up in the sky.

Lockdown Life
by Sue Bicknell

Pinheads of burning sparks illuminate life and death.
Spots of light squint through shuttered windows.
Firefly stars peep in a blue black sky.

Pinholes of space windows to a world outside the range of knowing.
Lives lived beyond themselves.
Deaths belonging to distant places.

Pintucks gathering memories beneath
folds of dreams that congregate
in hidden creases of a life story untold,
lived in solitary confinement.

Pinpricks of time prompt humanity to be
mindful of past transgressions.
Anticipate what may be to come,
igniting a spark in the eye of the universe
to brighten the future.

The Corona Virus Spring
by Ron Carey

The Crab-apple Tree outside my room
Is in full bloom
Glorious branches reaching out towards the brilliant blue sky
while the Sun stands by
Britain is in spring

In the forest, a new woodsman, strides
Invisible, no need to hide
Majestic or of humble means
He does not distinguish in between
Young or old, he will cut them down

You cannot see him, but you may meet
When a friend you happily greet
While out walking
Or at a bus stop talking
You will not feel the cut he’s making
Until one morning with your waking
You will feel his tickle in your throat,
Then a dry cough you will note
Your temperature goes higher and higher
Now your body feels on fire
His hands grasp your lungs so tight
For each breath, you have to fight

So, in the forest do not roam
Stay safe, stay well, Stay at home

Pandemic Poem of Lockdown Life
by Chelsea Duke

First we’re told no handshakes, no kisses and no hugs.
Next to go, amongst much else, was reusable coffee mugs.

It seems the nation runs on pasta, tinned toms, small bags of flour.
Panic buyers stockpiling, shelves barer by the hour.

Worse than that was yet to come, with toilet paper bagging.
“My God, what’s next?” I hear you cry – yep, that’s right, no shagging!

They closed the shops, they closed the pubs, denied the Brits their beer.
Then u-turned on the breweries. It could only happen here!

The schools were shut, the kids at home, twixt life and work no line.
Teaching, working, refereeing… Mummy’s on the wine.

Grown men are doing bunnyhops, the house is tidy and neat.
Dogs have never been walked so much, we’re banging saucepans in the street.

We spend our time in meetings, checking out colleagues’ homes,
Removing cats from keyboards, and surreptitiously checking our phones.

There’s no more Blue Sky Thinking. Instead it’s “You’re still on mute!”
We’re adjusting to new normal: day pyjamas, not a suit.

We’re told we all must stay at home, unless for cycle, walk or run.
Or our weekly socially distanced shop, what happened to all our fun?

We’ve had the Baby Boomers, Gen X and the Millenials –
And what with all this staying in, next up ‘Hello Coronials’!

Some’ve started lunchtime drinking, others online activities –
Quizzes, bingo, theatre, or scavenger hunts if you please.

Still more are in the kitchen, learning how to cook and bake.
By the end of this year’s lockdown life, we’ll be awash with homemade cake!

The highlight of the week for some is takeaway for dinner…
One thing’s for sure in this strange new life; none of us are getting any thinner!

The nation’s hair is growing longer, we’re all embracing the gray…
Clippers the next shortage item, desperate for hairdressers’ opening day.

And how will we remember this pandemic life in the years to come?
The year the bin went out more times than us, and we couldn’t hug our Mum.

Poem 6.
by Callum Horwood

The sustainability of my self-destructive life comes into question.
A pandemic, a national emergency, people dying for no reason.
Does this make my behaviour selfish? Or injustified?
Or perhaps more so;
Save that hospital bed for someone who deserves it.
Quarantine, isolation, lockdown, however you want to spin it.
Strips down and lays bare our loneliness; our insecurities for everyone to see.
Mental health took a back seat now it’s on the motherfucking front stage.
Yet only in people’s lives and not on the news we see.
All we hear is stories to induce anxiety.
All we hear is death, danger and fear.
Now I know I’m not alone when I say this situations hard on me.
But maybe my social life masked all of my anxiety.
What are we supposed to do; carry on in this new found world
Of no contact, no touch, no love and motherfucking distance.
Will we all adjust to this or just never get better?
I’d like to think I’d be fine, but this just fucking kills me.
Now we see memes online in an attempt to normalise the situation.
Make light of it, share our feelings through humour and feel relation.
But what kind of joke is it sitting in binge drinking every night?
If that’s how I feel and that’s what’s become of my life.
There’s comfort to be had in knowing I’m not alone, in this pain, this new existence, locked in our homes.
But to find comfort in other’s pain as my own is not true comfort at all, I’d just love a happy world with nobody injecting lysol.

Thank you NHS
by Coral Barker (aged 9)

Thank you NHS
Your love care and happiness
Makes safety and help for all
Colourful rainbows on the wall

Red, orange, green and blue
Thank you NHS for all you do
Women, children and men
You’ve helped people and most of them

That’s the reason why we clap
On the saucepan – tap – tap – tap
At eight o’clock on a Thursday
In March, April and even May

They help people in need
Doing everyone at least one good deed
So stay at home, we must
And it’s them we will trust

I know there’s a virus out there
But we’ve got hope and we’ve got care
So stay calm and stay at home
Even if you’re in London, China or Rome

Lockdown
Coral Barker (aged 9)

No one likes lockdown
Quiet from the whole town
Not speaking to anyone
Only one exercise or run
More we appreciate
By clapping on Thursday at eight
Saying and hearing thank you
For all they do
Speaking on the phone
It’s okay to feel alone
Right now we do need each other
Like family including our sister and our brother
Calling people much more
Doing things we wouldn’t have time for
Doing all the things you forgot
Yes, quite a lot
The message here is to say
To thank people more in a way
To appreciate the stuff
That we need when times are rough

An Ode: To You
by Karennina Page

As the troubled waters stirred, the ticking clock did strike and we drew a deep breath inward as the worried path did spike.
The yearn of yesteryear; of joyous pastime had, was now an echo in the air (once thought of good) had now turned bad.

Behold within a week, we noticed all the blue and birds not seen before, our heads tilted upward as they flew
And the deer reclaimed the land, the foxes lazy lay and pheasants strut around the streets emboldened by the day

And in amongst this glory, the people disappeared, like shadows in the nighttime you knew were there but didn’t see,
As the silence fell around us, in melancholic reverie.

The weeks rolled on in earnest as springtime bursts and flouts, but in amongst the buds, weird things begin to sprout.
Like flowers lit up shining, burning bright into the night, these very strange occurrences are small but in plain sight.

From the crevices of darkness, you hear a threaded sound, of music creeping slowly and from somewhere underground.
It plays a song from memory, a tune that once was new;
A joyful recollection. That joy was down to You.

As the siege of trouble burns deep holes into our purse, we wonder how and what we’ll eat, as cash you had apportioned, sinks into the sand beneath our feet.

When your mind is led to anguish as the hunger steals your sleep, you cannot concentrate and your limbs become a-floppy as your body becomes weak; the shops they were left empty as mad confusion grew,
But an angel came from darkness, that angel was You.

In reoccurring nightmares or vivid dreams repeat conspire, the mind slips into a vast abyss and seems to disappear from sight. ‘Hold on a little longer’, the whisper echoes gently ‘there’s much that you can do’.
Fear listened to that whisper; that whisper was You.

While the leaders divide nations, their words entrenched with lies are spewed
And the savagery of money goes unchecked, false claims made and skewed,

Still the workers on the front lines are knee deep in the trench,
As wild promises float endlessly from there to on the bench,
Where heads nod in agreement and the fingers point to ‘them’
While things remain obscure, vague and complicit in contempt.

As waters muddy deeper, the words of wise men sought and the memes upon my Facebook bring laughter where once was nought.
And while the chambers whisper in cunning sly manoeuvres
A belly laugh of outburst; that my friend, was down to You.

Imprisoned in a vacuum, enclosed by just four walls, a beautiful rendition of a view you can recall.
And while the brush strokes languish, on canvass made in blue, our soul is once again wakened.
That gift of blue, was You.

Amid reflections of bereavement churn cycles of repeated loss,
Bright flowers grew in wild abound shone beauty without cost.
So when the trouble stirs again, remember what you knew
Because those angels holding flowers are indeed of course, yes You.

New Poem (My Friend)
by Jean Ann Owens

A GIFT FROM GOD

A prayer each
Night
A tear
Cry
Something
Special
From inside
So
Deep
So
Alive
A prayer from
God
A dream
Come true
Something
I had
Never new
I kept
A gift
From god
A special
Poem
For
You

New Poem (My Friend)

I wish
Me, Jean Ann
Sitting down
In a chair
In your kitchen
Mrs. Nadine Hill
In her home
In her kitchen
Drinking coffee
and talking
With her
Mrs. Nadine Hill
I’m flying to the west coast to
See my angel

Newly Heard Sounds
by Eleanor Rawling

The earth will remember,
the earth will reclaim
All that silence and quietness,
we couldn’t refrain
From filling with noise
and shouting in vain.

Will we look back and cherish
the newly heard sound
Of bird song, of wind race
of moments we found,
When our fast life had gone
and the world was all changed?

Mirrors of Anguish
by Caroline Gauld

Windows are soulless eyes
Invisibly condemning us to hell
Within clear view of heaven
Encased, enclosed, locked in a prism

A tap on the glass signals “hello”
Living life in a gold fish bowl
All the time my face reflected
Trying to stay connected

Hot to the touch but cold as ice
This pane a great divide
Freedom isn’t a god given right
When caged, collared and confined

In isolation behind the glazing
Denied the touch of close relations
Behind these transparent bars
Anxiety separation leaves it’s scars

When comes the lifting of restrictions
Tentatively I’ll step beyond the curtains
I’ll look back at my reflective jailer
And realize he was my savour

My frustration crushed
into a thousand crystals
Freedom is mine to embrace
And I’ll move forward full of grace

The lockdown garden
by Jayne Moon

The lockdown garden
I kept a tidy garden
But never had the time
To catch the weeds as they appear and keep it in its prime

But since we stay inside
To help the NHS
My garden is now my empire
And I. The Great Empress!

I survey my little subjects,
All swaying in their beds
And if nasty weeds should attack,
I swiftly take off their heads

I give them food and water
I tend their every need
I raise them to be big and strong
From just a tiny seed

My greenhouse is my castle
My trees,my ramparts strong
The little birds are my musicians
Who sing there,all day long.

I love my lockdown garden
With all my heart and soul
But fear when lockdowns over
I’ll let nature take back control.

Five Things to do During Lockdown
by Kerry Ryan

Yours:
1. Create our own con-lang called Karnish
2. Transform the spare room into our favourite cafe
3. Join Big Kids Art Club on Youtube
4. Do yoga every day
5. Love each other

Mine:
1. Dance party
2. Drink prosecco
3. Snort that half gram of coke
4. Fight
5. Fuck to make up

Lockdown
by Nehir Tencere

Lockdown, Lockdown this is so sad
When we are out, I will be glad
Stuck at homes nothing to do all day
Some people can’t even celebrate their birthday.

The streets are empty everyone is alone
Again, nothing to do, stuck at home.
Washing our hands every time,
We will carry on doing this for a lifetime.

Thanking the NHS every Thursday,
They save lives every single day.

The New Normal
by Jayne Moon

I want the old normal.

I don’t like the new normal,
It just doesn’t feel normal to me
That I can only see a friend,six foot away from me.
I hate to wear the PPE
To push my trolley round
While the enemy we cannot see
Attacks,without a sound.
I don’t like being told,when out
I can only meet one other
How do I choose,without a doubt
A friend,a daughter,a mother?
Don’t touch,don’t hug,don’t breathe in air
Wash hands,don’t touch your face
Just stay at home,say a prayer
And sanitise your space

I don’t want to stay alert
Sometimes I like to dream
That we are all glamping in a yurt,
And bathing in a stream

All these rules,are just too much
Now I am longing for the day
We are free to see and touch
And watch the grandkids play.
The world has changed,and so have we
It’s like a message from above
When this is over,we will see
That…All we need is LOVE

Locksdown
by Karen Newsome

The wildness of my hair!
It grows without fear,
Making me more fearful,
By the day.

I sense the liberation,
No trim or grand style,
It’s freed itself,
Banging on the fringe!

My hair bounces, it moves!
Layering with joy,
Taking over, ceasing control
With razor sharp precision.

A new found spring,
A willingness to disobey,
Colouring my darkened heart,
I’m just reconditioning !

Diffusing all my misery,
My tonged locks, now
Untethered, run wild
Truly highlighting my life!

Covid
by Laura Davies

Covid-19,
You’re like the worst dream,
One which we all want to wake from.

You came uninvited,
By eye you’re not sighted,
Your presence here is not welcome.

An invisible enemy,
You have taken too many,
It is time that you were shown the door.

By flattening the curve,
Social distancing, we observe,
Your reign will be short, we’ll ensure.

For the lives you have taken,
Be not mistaken,
Not one shall be forgotten.

You are an enemy to fear,
One not to go near,
Covid-19, you are rotten.

A battle we wage,
It’ll make the front page,
When Scientists declare you’ve expired.

We are thankful for many,
Who have carried our Country,
They have worked non-stop, they are tired.

For them we’ve stayed home,
Only seeing family on Zoom,
You have robbed us of special occasions.

Birthdays missed,
New babies not kissed,
This is covid-isolation.

But what community spirit,
The virtual support you can feel it,
Covid’s stage show is approaching its curtains.

So Covid-19,
Put down your sceptre,
You Crown-shaped invisible foe.

You’re done, You’re dusted,
Covid-19,
It really is time that you go!!

Infinite Karmas
by Nishi Chawla

At the beginning was the outbreak,
Blobs of swarming virus caught red handed,
Fasten themselves on human lungs, above those
Karmic laws that got bled out; the stars rip, the
Effects of human intention, strayed, swelled.
How one lives, front lined with gloves and masks,
Mock at causality, casually proliferate in
Invisible tweets, with red mountain clouds,
Dismantle the short supply of legends that
Look us in the eye, comfort us for no reason.
Does it clink a glass or two, now that the karmic
Wheel got broken? Does it dodge bullets, whittled
By the dark scraping, bend its shapes, inside the
Deep flesh in cruel thumps, knowing no clear
Patterns of reactionary consequences? Pacing
Oneself to match an invisible fugue like, enemy
That rings in waves of new energy, in unison
With the crevices the virus revisits;
Wild affliction, dead to the pangs of love, of
Lust, reaping the aroused days of its own self.
Karma-scapic bounds, where is the blind eye
Of fate here, discriminate between willing it
Nor etched, nor accrued, in discrete scoops, shields
Of our own actions, generating, flourishing,
Between the responsible and not so?
They try to smother us, hidden deep within our permissive
Spaces; now an invisible virus makes it an armor, a shaft of
Light permeates, functions as a shelter or its lack, both.
Hidden, hiding, in hiding, secrets, the sorrow contained,
Protect us within a mask, humbled with unusual
Speed; everything forgotten in that post fragile phase.
Look beyond doubt, as the progressives carry the lantern.
Rebel or reformer, the obligation to mask oneself persists,
Spilling fire in absurd stretches, a fringe space of N 95s?
Cloth face masks, surgical masks, protect, cover the face and
The sides, the virus attacks, bandanas, scarves, empower,
Uncomfortable particles, fashion your own face covering.
Self-construct, cut out the rags, blast out the horror,
A subtle sense of resistance to put it on, transform oneself,
Or to disguise? Would a burqa not be the best defense?
Effective, as an artisanal smile disguises the pain
Fragile smiles wear thin, transmit the disease, in profound
And simple airborne respiratory droplets, life and the afterlife
Marginalized in brothel like respirators, rage anew
To strike the thing off, in chronic conditions, breathless, adept
Artisans. How does one make love and wage peace with a virus?
The virus licks my torn soul, guilt tripping me,
I sing a love song to it, tempting the faint thump,
Causing my heart to fissure its fatty lumps; pretend
I live on a moon of my own landing, turn my flesh
Inside out, listen to the chirping of birds, amazed.
That so much beauty could still exist, amid club like
Spikes that crush the breathing soul, lavender storms
That hit, unfounded hopes cluster phylogenetically;
A pestilence that asks for enormous surcharges, lethal
As the protean cry of daggers, stabbing me yet again.
Quietly slithering out, a war like stratagem, as
Birds orchestrate their cheerful songs to each other,
Embraced in positive sense RNA, the hard truths that
No flowers on our window sills would relive. Proteins
That slice human voices, sliced lungs pause, then breathe.
When I follow its replication pattern, somewhere
A flood of tears ensue, attached to a host receptor, slyly
Pursuing a purpose driven path, winter turns into stunned
Spring, and yet the stalk of the spike molecules sticks,
Digs deep within, encodes hollow dreams, hollowed out.
In the open fields, the birds shriek with intense,
Tormented sounds, adopt a transmembrane like structure,
And more and more are rendered mute, transfixed fear,
Packaging signals of sliding down, motionless companions
That express a fear; triggering viral particles, spreading out.
Binding domains of dazed displeasure, disbelief,
A tissue culture, receptors and protein that inject so much,
A solar vision that gives me a new calm, a prayer that
Sparks nucleocapsids of refined pleasure,
Gone, I struggle with myself again, umpteen times more.
At the turn of a metaphor, an old
Smell returns. Doorknobs, food parcels,
Cardboard boxes violate its safety.
Coffins run amuck, unwilling to settle
Into the ground of unequal notes, broken up
Handshaking that combines data distancing.
By sunrise singing, widows cut open fear,
From the clinging smell of soaps, to peacetime
Talk of floating civil liberties, affixed, then ripped.
Destroy the game of winners and losers, write
Love poems to battles fought, tactile as panic,
Controlled eyes lifting, glisten with godhead.
Its rhetoric is framed, unstable as molecules,
Moving, evolving, thinking unto oneself, deadly
And pent up, galvanized into action, fight, fleeing.
Quiver with soft gestures, smoothed out as dream
Filaments, the labored action of digital steps, quiet
Lingering gestures, sinking deep, as surveillance.
As a door shuts tight, breathing encircled, then
intervene with the arc of biometrics, move freely
Between borders, strike back torrents of smart bombs.
Creep into bunker busters, masked under submarines,
Guns that maneuver through host cells, a blood flow
Bereft of motion, would there be a mutating stir?

Elastic Time
by Brogan King

What are days, weeks & months without plans?
Time is both rapid and lesiurely
Old school nothing and contemplating the navel

Elastic time

Agonising ephemeral existence,
The fullness of accelerated change
The world is re-orienting

As must we
As must I

Arising from the ashes & blue light

A Phoenix

Bus in the Time of Coronavirus
by Deborah Collins

This is our new life. Spring, cold, sunny.
All is cut off – our friends, our food, our money.
In the lane by the park, I feed the stray cats
and imbibe the urban silence that’s
the new sound of our time; pull up my mask,
avoid all others, bow down to my task,
while glancing nervously, holding my breath,
at passers-by who harbour death.

Spaces hollow out where the sun’s rays shone.
Our connections and our certainties are gone –
our liberty to love, to move,
suspended for fears that months or years may prove.
Our working world is frozen – who’ll hire us? Fire us?
This is the time of coronavirus.

At the end of the lane a bus goes by:
driver, no passengers, emblazoned high
on its side, part-obscured by trees,
an ad for a movie none now sees,
The Invisible Man. That’s what we are.
This bus is not empty after all – far
from it: full of invisible men and women.
We’re not gone, we’ll come like salmon, swimming
against the tide to get back where we started,
bruised, bereaved, but not yet broken-hearted.

Lunch Hour
by Nicholas Starkey

It was lunch hour
And the shop was as empty as concrete.
They were only letting fifty people
In the store at a time
Due to the recent lockdown
Amid the coronavirus outbreak.
What worried people most
Was not the virus itself
But the outlook it had on humanity.

Outside, Gary,
Whose wife killed herself
After being raped by her dad,
Was sitting down
and being harassed by security
For holding a cup.

My Fear or Dying After Quarantine and my Selfish Scramble for Self-Proclaimed Immunity
by Lucy French

I do not fear too much,
For I am fortunate as ruined clovers in the summer sunshine,
For my lungs are pink and bloodlessly rosy.
No fidget of a frog clawing at my steel throat,
Or twist of baited breath.

Yet really,
When I leave the insulated hygiene of my house,
I am sure that I will suck a virus to the pits of my stomach.
And let it chew there,
Like a yellowed dragon with the dark bones
Of an ill-fated heroine.
Though, I am sorry,
That I pray for my own desperate immunity
When there are those not so favoured by the
Biological reckoning,
When there are those who wait in paper-doll beds
In the deep cavern of a hospital bed.
To be told whether life favours the few,
Or if death licks at their heels.

So a second dragon,
This one with guilt-speckled scales gnaws at the other’s worried tail,
Until it remains nothing but a bloodied stump,
Licks the wound until it forgets such culpability.

Still once we are released from our kennels again,
I shall cower with a chain to my neck.
This illness is once of fiction,
And I know it cannot be worse than one reasoned by fact.
But no amount of antibiotic intervention,
Or forced ventilation,
No quantity of crisp hand-gel
Will heal such imagination.
My wandering conscious has concocted
A different virus, that blossoms not into a pandemic,
But a mental affliction, and one that I am unlikely to ever outgrow.

Memorizing the art of survival in the wind
by JeJe Oluwasola

To say colours thaws, expression rips and the sky shies with a flawed rainbow,

To say rhythms radiate in the lungs of Italy, songs go sour and the earth feels good of remains,
Like flowers shivering of quivers that rages from the corona,

I am saying a difficult place in the sun, sets on the boulevard of Lagos and the day cum too soon to dusk of things that stains the breath,

Our soul wraths silence and the earth holds grief of relief

Although our bodies are parted in social divorce by a wild sauce lurking in the air,

And we have become photographs adopted by the heart of one another lingering on the hope that dangles on the biceps of science,

This too shall wade like flames riding the wind and bragging the ambience,

This too shall also end like echoes seeking asylum in a room unpeopled,

And every night I bury my face into the sky like my grandfather would peep a smile

I’d puff some solace at the verge of voidness where my body quits,

I’d say to my shadow, say what I say after I say what I say,

Hakuna Matata! Darkness does not exist, it is light trekking back to a place we won’t know,

Cos end has no name and we shall float beyond tides and gravy rumours.

To live is of the mind,

And this mind is beyond the illusions of how we shall hoist a flag of victory.

You.
by Nicola Whitfield

You, proud in your primary colours
parading our screens
with your pretence as if
a child’s bouncy ball
that could stick to a wall
suckers even.

You, sticking and sucking the life
out of liquid lungs
drowning our dearests
daring a pandemic,
your microscopic purpose simply to
reproduce and multiply.
No evil intent.

You, stopping us dead.

To Learn or not to learn
by James Brookes

Stop all the clocks and the fluidity around the globe,
The grim spectre of pollution on our cities is starting to disrobe,
Who’d have thought that for our planet to breathe and to clear,
That a virus with deadly consequences might allow us to regear,
Halting the journeys and our daily burning of fossil fuel,
Showing our lack of respect for the planet is simply not cool,
How long will social isolation and lock down provide a break,
Is this our chance for a better world us to now make,
But the cyclical nature of humans doesn’t bode well,
Will we learn from this brief respite only time will tell,
How much we value the health of our environment now,
Will be seen in the field that our short term future will plough,
There’s hope for us yet as social creativity is on the hunt,
To bring the issue of climate change back firmly to the forefront.

Right here at home
by Dave Holmes

Grey won’t lift
Lockdown came so swift
Switch on a film just to get in
Cancel your cheques
use an umbrella in a force ten
Hide undercover at home
Oh yes when the breakout comes
That’s the day my family arrives
Oh yes we can cuddle up soon
Boris Johnson and his ally Don
Couldn’t keep doing wrong
We’ll let them know when it’s time to vote
They aren’t going anywhere
Oh yes when the breakout comes
That’s when the time the party starts
When tomorrow comes
I’ll buy some things
Unnecessary to me
Like a Chambord glass and a square of grass
A telescope lens, pictures of unknown friends
A swimming pool and a Premium froe
Oh yes when the breakout comes
Go to shows and spectacular sights
But until that time will come
I’m staying at home
Where my heart is
Right here at home

Morning Light
by Ev Welsh

Morning light as
sharp as lemons.
Palm and fingertips
pressed to the window,
wistful gaze.

The War Dead
by Michael Thomas Hill

‘The War Dead’
‘Mack knelt beside the dead.
From the soldier’s eye,
A tear fell.

The Sergeant asked him,
“Tell me why you’re crying?”
“I’ve no one to cry
For me, or mourn for me.”

The young soldier smiled,
“Give me your letter old friend
I shall read it to you,”

The old soldier handed over the
Letter in a torn, tattered
Envelope

He opened it and read it
“I write this letter with sadness
‘To tell you, your home was blown up,
Your wife and family too,”

The elderly soldier turned to the young
Boy, Hugged him,’
“We who are about to die to salute thee.”

Mack looked over the trenches.
His gun went bang the german hit the ground.
‘Without making a sound.’

As the young soldier looked around
Like a mosquito bite; death shook
Hands with the dead

In bitter cold ground sleeping soldiers’
Found. ‘In fields of red sleep, the dead…..
‘Their graves were decked with poppies’

On the Cusp of Transformation
by Robert Best

From globally interconnected to social isolation –
It was a big leap to make, and very fast!
This pandemic touches every soul, in every nation,
And we’ve no real idea how long it’ll last,
And some of us are wondering – what is this creation?
Could it have something to do with those new masts?

On the cusp of Transformation, high vibration, celebration!

Grim statistics pour constantly into homes around the world
While we’re stuck indoors, can’t go out, and running out of cash.
The global levels of mental stress have people wound up and curled
As bank accounts, careers and plans, all quickly turn to ash.
We can’t let off steam on a football pitch, or even down the pub;
Holidays and day trips banned, on pain of fines or jail.
Every type of gathering’s off, every society, every club,
Businesses going down the tubes as economies flounder and fail.

On the cusp of Transformation, high vibration, celebration!

There’s opportunity in this chaos, opportunity for growth.
Redesign society, recreate ourselves – or both!
Choose a higher vibration, be grounded, centred, calm;
Choose to be the light of the world; choose to be its balm.
Choose to manifest a better You, through which, a better Us,
And thereby moving humanity from B-minus to A-plus.

The Supply Chain
by Charlie McCartan

You phone and ask if I can do you a favour
Because of those days in May, I can always try

All the tins I’m allowed to buy but no corned beef (those days in May!)
And I leave at the door, pay me on the other side of this
and I wave from across the street, smiling the best I can

And those tins I bought that were delivered from a depot in Macclesfield and put on the shelf by a local guy and picked up by me and swiped by the friendly woman working six days a week at the moment

and somewhere lurked the thing that killed you despite the A to Z of precautions
and was it me or was it anyone in the supply chain?

never knowing, I remember the days of May last year long before time stood still

Empty and Silent
by Brian Ball

Trains running empty,
cities no people,
shops closed and vacant,
silent, still and bleak,
flamboyantly eerie and scary.
Painted restaurant smelling,
feeling robustly miserable,
cookers lonely and gloomy,
ghosts the only customers,
money they have none.
Cars static, batteries powerless,
breakdown service waiting,
trees tingling their bonnets,
hoping for seduction.
locals walking and exercising,
nervously keeping a distance,
carrying tapes, two metres long,
lovers blowing kisses,
waiting to cuddle again.

This year’s planner
by Kay Fletcher

Rediscovering each other
Grieving the loss of my mother
Dealing with teenage angst
Telling the NHS ‘thanks’…

Selfish acts
Stark facts
Inspiring deeds
‘Colonel Tom’ Leads

Walking, baking
Writing, waiting…

Unavailable PPE
Political incapacity
2020’s epitaph?
Boris’s autograph…

I have been hand clapping, pan slapping….
by Kay Fletcher

Everything stopped.
Except HS2 – still the trees got lopped…

I have seen the school doors shut, the whole thing close,
Now I’m doing home cookery lessons and English prose…

I have hunted for elusive delivery slots,
Am still trying to join up the political dots…

I have seen the best in the people I love,
And the worst in those that litter with mask and glove…

I want to protect the NHS,
And have a new normal where we destroy less…
(Foxes, badgers, trees included
And I’d like to think I’m not deluded…)

I have seen loo rolls and soap totally disappear,
The bare shelves a shock and I’ve felt real fear…

I’ve gone on one daily outdoor exercise,
Then eaten too many biscuits and increased my waist size…

True to my word I have socially isolated,
And celebrated a wedding anniversary, 18 years since we first dated…

While I feel sure our government has lied,
People have become sick and many have died…

Saving lives, I’ve stayed in,
Now I appreciate those who empty my bin…

As I’m living through this pandemic,
I’m learning, ‘I didn’t know selfishness was so endemic…’

I remember it started with herd immunity,
Now it ends with the ‘R’ number and ‘be alert’ lunacy…

On a one walk day
by Simon Tindale

On a one walk day
she knelt two metres away
and asked for his hand.

He buried his head
in the crook of his elbow
and blew her a kiss.

She coughed up champagne,
which cooled his brow, while choosing
their favourite songs.

The iPod broke down
at a service attended
by virtual friends.

Message from Gaia following the Petition
by Phil Madden

To the Unholy Alliance of Armageddonists
who wanted the collapse
of capitalism/democracy/fill in the blanks ,
who would rather be dead than wrong.
And to the Rapturists who have yet again suffered
from premature exhaltation.
You will see that, for now,
I have turned down your request.
But do not be too disappointed.
I have also received petitions
from the fish in the Venice canals,
who for the first time in years
have been able to see the sun.
And from many other creatures.
They are tired of you all.
If as I expect there is no sign
of the improvement expected,
I shall return.

Lockdown
by Jehane Markham

April with her floral apron on
Singing her haunting birdsong

Buds bursting with points
Of colour like Seurat’s spotty

Flesh while we wait behind glass
With widening eyes

The bright light on the empty street
The lack of footfall, the empty hands

The aching heart, its feral beat
Salt gargle and cold wet bleach

The empty hall, the loud T.V.
Dreams, butterflies balancing on a bloom

Voices on the radio are company
When you have your own room

The ancient fear of death
Slipping through the letter box

Clinging to your dress
The modern day plague

Has come to town
Because we were greedy with our own

Plundered the soil, polluted the air
Used up resources with a devil-may-care

But the earth is so forgiving
Spring is still here.

Up The Lane
by Bernard Pearson

There are little streams
Black as the ribbons
On an undertaker’s hat
And a welsh pony
Standing in the buttercup
Embroidered field
And a jogger ,unaware
That they had stepped
Into heaven looking
At his watch.

The Empty Land
by Dean Brindley

The empty land
Where huddled homes
are some protection
from a waiting death

Like mice, they scuttle out
Unknowing when
the hawk will strike

Or make amusement
for themselves to pass
a lengthless time

in cleaning and arranging
then to re-arrange
and always waiting

Waiting for this time to pass

Neologisms
by Emma Williams

It’s funny how
A word
A phrase
A term
Comes from nowhere.
Six weeks ago
Many of us
Had been
‘Locked out’
A door slam
A forgotten key
Some of us
With old doors
Rusty locks
Rotten wood
Had even been
Locked in
None of us
Had been
Locked down
The irony
Of course
Is we’re
Only locked in
“Locked down”
For 23 Hours
With 65 inch televisions
83 rolls of toilet paper
1 or 2 people we love
We call it
“Locked down”
But shouldn’t it be
“Locked up”
For this is far more
Freedom than some.

Pandemonium
by Martha Westwood

La La La.La La La
dance me to the end of time Baby boomers beware
There’s something sinister in the air
On the loose
everywhere
fairy lights like a child’s drawing
will take your breath away but not in a nice way
Chris Whitty your my man
Get us out of this jam
Came on a fast boat all the way
from China along the beautiful shoes of Milan before spiking Berlin and the rest of the West.
And then TicTok
the world, stopped
the shares dropped
Nuked into lockdown
Heaven or hell!
No school no church
Left in the lurch
God help us
People lost in their homes
Or supermarket queues
At this strange new world
care homes full of victims
abandoned, dying alone
away from home
Dishy splashes the cash left right and centre
Hoping for a peak from this monstrous tormentor
Ground control to Colonel Tom. The NHS is number one
Coffins lining up filling everybody with terror.
And we could be in a mess
If it wasn’t for the NHS

His Ending
by Owen Williams

His resistance ended with a whimper in ventilated sheets suffocating quietly to spite the machine
he had thought perhaps a boiling mushroom cloud mimicking the sun’s heat

or the angry ocean raging across the land towering unstoppable drowning all in the sea’s fury
or a fiery tumult descending from the heavens arcing extinction across the horizon

but this such a tiny thing piecing the breath from a friend unwantedly secretly incubating waiting to seize the fragility of life but for what purpose except death?

The Human Touch
by Linda Michel

Who knew one could miss so much
the human touch
The reassuring pat on the arm
The soft sweet feel of a baby’s downy crown.
The chubby little hand that grasps yours so tight,
The masculine hug of a team mate that bonds
The kiss on the lips which leads to much more,
The clasp of the hand that says, in you I trust
The brush on the cheek that says au revoir,
The blow of a kiss and a promise to meet.
So know we must wait for a suitable time
When its safe to embrace and we can forget
When a touch could be toxic,
Too close might be deadly,
And time it stood still.
While we wait for a cure all
From the scientists skills
The days of confinement
Weigh heavy with dread,
Of the plight of our loved ones
We miss them so much.
Now we know why we cherish
The memories we hold
It gets us through dark days
And gives us the hope
That soon we can go back
To what was before,
And appreciate the human touch
Like never before..

Plagueground
by Steve Day

Today is not quite like any other
they are running a long haul fever
flight to recover their senses
left at the only address
identified as home.

Blue sky morning’s weather reporting
broadcast through a bright light of stripes
flagged in slate and shadow;
back where they believe they belong,
dropped into a spring of locked down
potency; no children’s games in the
playground, bolted chains at the gate,
this landed land is now their plagueground;
re-entry arrival running late.

Already the white wood anemones are open,
scattered across the rosary moss and beech
cutting below a dry stone gully, blackthorn
hedging the edge of hillside into seclusion.

Walking this path because this path is not
usually used at such a partisan hour. This
path is only known to those in the know and
those in the know will either have visited
earlier or at dusk, after their animals have
been fed, watered and put away behind bars.

For the moment this path is the escape route out
of the house for the once-a-day-act-of-exercise with
no encounters with neighbours, or worse, strangers.
Where did these masked people come from?
Possibly a long haul fever flight to recover their
senses close to where they imagine someone
else’s handiwork might help them find their own.

Spring 2020
by Rachel Irven

These moonlight nights I lie and cannot sleep,
A fox, in sunlight down our lane, a thief,
While spring days lengthen, wildness closer creeps.

Strength in fragility, earth’s force runs deep
Ghost veins all that remains of this skeleton leaf
These moonlight nights I wake and cannot sleep.

Our sanity in lockdown, we must keep
Ourselves from illness, share in others grief,
As spring days lengthen, wildness closer creeps.

This world grown strange to us, although we reap
The benefits of modern life, beneath
Long moonlight nights I lie and cannot sleep.

Dawn breaks as fire, and yet I do not weep,
In Nature’s healing power I have belief.
As spring days lengthen, wildness closer creeps.

In modern times it seems our Faith’s skindeep
So still I cannot change my disbelief.
These moonlight nights I lie and cannot sleep
Spring days grow longer, wildness closer creeps

Off!
by Vickie Johnstone

The world stopped, but I didn’t want to get off.
It stopped turning. But I still had things to say.

“Don’t loiter in the throughway.”

My fingers caught the rail tighter lest it disintegrate
To nought, like the globe around me and below
Where the cities stood silent, emitting solitude
While the cherry tree blossoms wilt to grey.

This window contracts, ever-decreasing my view
Of the things I used to do, the faces I used to
Know. Where are you? I spoke to you yesterday,
Yet I can’t see you in my memory of the crowd.

Are you down there, sitting mute behind your view,
Keeping your fortress closed, breathing stale air?

I remember moments sewn in a patterned quilt,
And you, you providing the voiceover to each
Scene. I recall some, but I know some are gone now.

“Don’t loiter in the throughway!”

It’s my turn. Someone is urging me, pressing soft,
Steadily insistent. I know I have to take the step,
This leap into the unknown, the gap between
Here and the below, embrace the nothingness.

I wonder where you all are, every one of you.
It’s been two months, but it seems like years.
I feel time ticking, even though it stopped dead.
The conductor nods his head and I know now:
I have to get off.

Boss of the World
by Wilf Keeley

Tackle it head-on?
Call it like some punk
who propositioned
your girl in a bar
into the alley
and kick out of it
several shades of shite!

Mosey up behind it?
Take an umbrella cane
tipped with something
radioactive and stick it
up its big fat arse!

Tap it on the shoulder
Then, as it turns, crack it
squarely (so what If unfairly?)
across its smirking mouth!

Challenge it to meet
in the dusty road
at high noon? Beat it to the draw
and drill six slugs of lead
into its hollow heart!

Slip a dose of strychnine
in its tea? Or grind some glass
super finely in its
pie and mash?

Empty its bank account!
Cheat it out of a pension!
Send it to a pauper’s grave!

Drag it into the dock.
Sentence it for crimes
against humanity
to hang by the neck
Until dead. Or slip it
a stiletto, to do
the honourable thing.

Ha!

This mass assassin
can ride a punch,
work a trigger
faster than you
can blink. Is wise to
all the dirty tricks.
Laps up toxins like
a cat. Its language,
devoid of words,
badmouths humankind
ties the prosecution
up in knots.

Reflected from screens
in glassy eyes of
politicians. Looked
for past twitching
curtains, it snakes
invisible like gas,
down stark deserted
streets to dance naked.
The boss of the world!

Coronovirus…a collection in Haiku form
by Tina Negus

Search the bird webcams
kittiwakes, ospreys, falcons:
nature in lock-down

Spring in the garden:
cowslips, bluebells, foxgloves bloom:
in the wild…who knows?

It is so quiet…
no airplanes, little traffic
blackbird loudly sings

While we skulk indoors
the earth takes a break from us
from our metalled ways

Temporal
by Veronica Husband

As the surfer rides the peeling wave
or the singer holds breath for the lasting note
so I draw on my lifetime allowance
of colour enlightening the eye,
of birdsong brimming the day,
of kneading words into poems,
of witnessing moon before sun
and the plumaged spectre of the corona.

Pandemic
by Anthony Brady

April 2020 will be remembered
as truly the cruellest month.
Deep in careless slumber,
we woke up in dismay.
A corona virus rampant.
What’s to blame?
A rat? A cat? A bat?
Centre Parcs no longer magical.
Paris no longer romantic.
The Big Apple confounded.
China’s Great Wall breached,
Mecca’s pilgrims bereft.
We dig deep into layers
of politician’s lies…
no hope of finding the truth.
Disposable, the vulnerable
elderly are locked-in
social-distance lepers:
all acts of familial
affection in farewells
to them denied.
Winnowed in cruel
winds they will be:
our mature corn
blown away as chaff,
while good and bad
find no partition.

Corona
by Lucy Calcott

I am trying to accept this pause,
This empty space,
This open time
As time, for the earth to begin it’s
healing,
For reflection, for deepening,
To become all that we are, in the
ground of being.

For humanity to be stopped, mid track
Is humbling,
We were, there is no doubt, hurtling towards destruction.

We have been blind, taken so much as
given:
Our simple freedoms.
I understand
But I am also scared
For those sick and dying,
For those caring,
For those bereaved,
Those that cannot be at the sides
Of those they love
And for those who live alone and
sinking.

The house of money is falling.
The sands are shifting.
The tides are turning.

It is hard to stare into emptiness.
Stay calm,
Find peace in wide unknowing.

There is burning hope
For a better world,
For great compassion.

Be still my soul.
Take refuge
In this unlikely pause,
This emptiness, unexplored,

Be still.
My breath enlarge,
My eyes open, my trust deepen.

The Spring is singing
The primroses, laughing.

A Winter Bird
by Michael Thomas Hill 

John sat alone in his bedroom,
‘Saw a birdman outside his window.

John sat in his bedroom with his friend
Barry who looked through John’s window
Looked up at the blue sky

Saw a robin passed the window,
Barry felt like telling everyone about it.
John told his friend the tale of the robin
That sat on his window.

The robin came to his window and sat
Down on the ‘cill; sat there on
John’s window

The next day, John went to school
And told Mrs Goodwin the tale;
Who Spoke to John “Don’t tell porkies?
Animals don’t turn into people.

It’s someone playing a game with you.
It’s tales of children making things
Up to keep their dads.”

“I saw the bird turned into a man and
He flew in through my bedroom window after dark
He had wings and hands like you,
And I do miss it.”

The Birdman from Bilston looked like superman
Came in through the window and crept about
The streets after dark

The other children laughed at him.
The teacher said, “Children should be in their beds
Not telling tales of animals turning into people.”

Lockdown
by Sonnet Mondal

Where roads do not unfurl
the need for limits
breathes through dry tears.

Where Solitude takes wing
for the falling Sun
amnesia shrouds a generation.

Caged, wingless, a bird waits
for the last dusk

as a forsaken boatman
rows for food in the twilight.

Daily exercise
by Heather Wastie

Dad on bench, looking at his phone
Son on bank, sitting on his own
Little daughter riding her bike
up and down
up and down
up and down

Hope in Lockdown
by Heather Wastie

There is hope tonight.
There is steak, there are chips, there are peas tonight.
There are sofas, carpets and doors tonight.
There are walls

and holes in walls where birds make their nests,
not the best kind of hope but there’s hope.

There is wine tonight
and a screen to distract from the lack
and we hope tonight
that the steak will be tender, the chips fat and crisp,
the peas sweet and green, the sofas supportive,
the wine soporific, the carpets expansive,
the doors locked and bolted, the screen sugar-coated,
the nests all deserted

for there is the hope –
in the song, on the branch,
on the lawn, on the fence,
in the hatchling I saw in the eaves,
too scared to move
as a magpie swooped and beat its black wings,
where later I cried at spatters of red
on the white window frame

Missing You
by Bronia Sawyer

I wish I could sit on your sofa
and half chat while we watched the tv
I wish we could sit and play scrabble
or have cake and a nice cup of tea
I wish we could sit in your garden
and talk about the plants and the weeds
watching the flowers all blooming
visited by sweet honey bee’s
I wish I could come for a visit
and hug when we met at the door
I wish we could sit on your sofa
the way that we used to before.

… and here’s the thing…
by Elizabeth Jardine Goodwin

and here’s the thing…

my skin recovers from your hands
a drowned world of myths, maps and tides that have turned
floating wefts of silk and coloured books read after dark
a flourish of birds
flowers frozen in silent ponds
summer in a winter’s night

touch

and after touching’s glance,

a further tilt in the heart’s happenstance

May-ditations
by Jessica Clark

Take a deep breath – relax –
run around imaginary green-field tracks
and download another mindfulness app
to ease the sting of the slap
of modern reality.
I need the internet now, to tell me how to feel,
and the air that I breathe is becoming less real
and the things I believe are shifting soundbytes only
but buck up, sit back down, don’t let on that you’re lonely –
we’re too tired to fight.

All that glitters is not gold.
Screens beaming light give me jitters
and at night I feel cold
so I reach for another soul
through a dark square of metal and pixels,
but they’ve also been
developed in the same vice-like hold
of disintegrated normality –
all these human light-beams have also been sold
and impelled to hop onto
some sinister beast’s dreams
so the succour they offer
is proffered from a tainted cup.
And none of us can get off it:
the treadmill we’re born on of sex, death and profit.

Well, beautiful photographs are formed in dark rooms,
flowers grow inside us while dystopia looms
and somewhere, dust falls
around images muffled yet set to grow clear
between shadowed walls –
one of love, one of fear.

Just don’t make the mistake
of making me take another few months trapped on video-calls
where the humans are fake…
with soul-truth lodged nowhere –
in the technological sphere.

Aye Corona!
by Sarah Miles

We battle on daily with Hancock’s half hour
We wash and we scrub and everything scour
We only emerge to clap the front line
Otherwise quaffing on copious wine
We’re busier than ever with meetings on Zoom
When not doing that we’re wielding a broom
Or injecting our bodies with flagons of Pine
Watching our hair grow an inch at a time
And growing long whiskers strangely now grey
We’re beginning to feel we are losing our way
When we wake in the morning to face each day
With less to do and even much less to say
Our soft toys stare out from our window sills
We’ve run out of loo roll and yeast and pills
The dentists are closed and that back tooth is throbbing
People in high rises are quietly sobbing
The golf course is thronging with picnics and poodles
Our diaries are empty save one or two doodles
Rainbows abound but with no pots of gold
The weather was lovely but now arctic cold
New Zealand’s normal they’ve weathered all peaks
Whilst we lag behind dangerously by several weeks
Suddenly GB has become the Four Nations
But only the one will allow for vacations
Steer clear of your loved ones whatever you do
Though cramming on tube trains is no longer taboo
Wear a mask, don’t wear a mask, no wear one – it’s official
Even though the benefits, they say, are quite superficial

The Importance of Distance
by Susan Avril Adamson

Fibrous strands maintaining our bodies
Silken filaments hard wiring our brains
Fabric supporting our precarious lives
Precious underlying mesh linking us together
Are become
patchy
threadbare
unravelling

Invisible connections stretched
str – etch – ed – to – cap – a – city
Transparency trending
downward
towards
opacity
Senses dulled as culture and society held at bay
Existing on slithers of previous experience

Fractured in isolation
split
separate
apart
but
United by anxiety and incessant
waiting…… waiting…….waiting
Watching daily charts and graphs undulating
Hearing but no longer listening to the repetition of interminable questions without answers
Conflicting information
Confused advice

World in lockdown
grounded
confined to barracks
for the common good
to be understood
by entire populations

Survival feels as surreal as Salvador’s melting clocks
Times as strange as sci-fi and still so many
dying……..dying……..dying……..

Dürer’s Four Horsemen: a 2020 Vision
by Peter Sutton

Four steely, hard-edged assassins are squatting
in the fretwork sun by the scrimshaw sea,
swapping stories of shipwrecked sailors,
Odysseus, Aeneas, Canute and Noah.

They are playing a permanent game of poker,
holding their hands close in to their chests,
deciding which card to slap on the sand,
how they will harry bank holiday crowds.

The gloater in grey says he’ll burn them to the ground.
He’ll toss an old stub in the scrub and he’ll smile
as the sparks fly spinning to the caravan sites,
watching as the wind turns the demon wild.

The sea dog in blue says he’ll sweep them off their socks.
He’ll drag them from their sunbeds and drown them in the deep,
leaving a legacy of pestilential land,
of sinking foundations and sewage and slime.

The greasy chap in green says he’ll give the sods a snorter.
He’ll snuffle and slobber and gob his spittle
at the jostling, joking, jaunty invaders
jogging on the gimcrack, jerry-built prom.

The brigadier in black says he’ll arm the wretched blighters.
He’ll laugh as they fight local folk over food
and lay waste their homesteads, hovels and harbours,
despoiling their fishing smacks, forges and farms.

The wreckers are restless and ready to roister.
They leap on their four-by-fours, level their lances
and surge through the woodcut spreading disaster,
fire storms and flood tides, infections and wars.

I’m not a hero… I’m me
by Alan Wynne Davies

I’m not a hero who saves lives,
Like a doctor or nurse.
I’m not a soldier or in the police,
Quite the reverse,
I don’t fight for world peace.
I don’t do good things
Like emptying bins.
I’ve never been in a fight.
I’m not a teacher
Who is clever and bright.
I don’t lead the blind, giving them sight,
Acting as their eyes.
I don’t work late at night.
I’m not rich or wise.
I haven’t discovered a vaccine
To win a Nobel Prize.
I can’t sing or cook.
I’ve never written a book.
I don’t get paid lots of money
For the way that I look.

I’m not a champion, like a boxer.
I’m not a sailor or tailor.
I didn’t paint the Mona Lisa.
I’ve never been to China.
I don’t deliver letters.
I’m not a farmer who grows food,
Or a brewer who has brewed
Things to drink.
I don’t think
Like a politician or musician.
I don’t work with my hands
Like an electrician or magician.
I’ve never watched the Simpsons.
I’ve never seen the Giant’s Causeway,
Or climbed the Eiffel Tower.
I’ve never met the Queen,
And never grown a flower.
I don’t make the news.
I’m not famous for being famous,
Like people you see on TV.
I’m an ordinary person –
I’m me.

On Yer Bike
by Ian Rabjohns

I’m one of those old ones,
Those, folded in the pen
of over seventy with an
underlying……wish that when,
When I get out of this jail then
I’ll jump up on that bike
like a youngster wearing
Lycra. I’ll ride those big
fat knobblies up the hills
and bugger any spills along
the way. A dicky wrist is
nothing that need bother A or E.
But just right now it’s the big C
that wears the crown, me
that has a frown,
a clock that’s lost the time
and lost the day, and I
have lost the way I used to be.

All those unprecedented suits
are navigating routes and
claiming feet upon the pedals.
Promising to give out medals.
Aiming for a slow release
Not climbing second peaks.
with numbers dropping week by week
While I am pumping tyres.
Tweaking wires, and oiling chain.
Wrapping up the spares and pliers.
They are all in for some shocks
When MY feet leave the blocks.
It will be peak on peak on peak
My back already feels the creak
The pain will come I’m sure because
I’m over seventy with no apparent cure.

The Goat God Dances
by Adrienne Keller

The goat god of mischief
rules

The cozy comfort of home
wears

The soothing softness of touch
retreats

The steady stream of news
frightens

And yet, and yet

The eager earth of spring
abides

The persistent promise of tomorrow
beckons

And the lasting legacy of love
endures

Though the greatest of these
be love

Our time now
calls for faith
demands hope
requires patience

While the goat god
dances
on too many graves

One More Body
Sue Wallace-Shaddad

I talk to myself, more often than not
alone in my solitary nest.
I give the neighbour an update
as we meet 2m apart by the fence.
Nothing exciting to report
each day meshes into the next.

Suddenly I have news to share—
a pigeon has crash-landed
down the chimney, lies draped
in the grate in a swoon.
How it got into this pickle
is hard to work out.

Now I love all living creatures
especially in lockdown mode—
the sight of a bee or butterfly,
the scamper of squirrels, tap-tap
of a woodpecker. They stir
the silence of my shut-in days.

This pigeon however is dead
as if I need any more bad news.
I scoop up the feathered body
and bag it twice in blue plastic
before solemn dispatch to the bin—
one more for the daily toll.

Introspection
by Alice Lenkiewicz

Sacred light
Uncertain colour
Walk within the
Healing power of
Courtly sun and
Female moon

Connecting with earth
Nurturing truth
Defying inner fear and
Anxiety – a time to
Restore and
Revolutionise

As you exculpate the past
Embracing Neptune’s healing
To become one with others
Towards altered states of being
Sublime mentor
Cleansing the world of this
Miasma

Unearth yourself in fine
Purification
Consuming sublunary
Light as you Ascend the
Violet Spectrum in
Admiration of this remarkable
Happening
This atonement
Rebirth of life
Purge and
Inner reflection

Copper Beeches
after Daniel Defoe
by Jane Salmons

When the dead-cart
rattles past
the red-crossed houses
doors daubed
Lord, have mercy upon us
the bellman calls
bring out your dead!
and the raker
carries off
the sweeping filth
of the gap-mouthed infected,
half a mile beyond
the screaming pest house
a copse of copper beeches
shimmers and stirs
in a haze of light.

Watching
by Lesley Ingram

I sleep, now, with open curtains
like I did as a child watching
Orion on those breath-tight
sleep-lost nights, watching
the belt, the sword, the silver
shield pushing, pushing
the sky past my window’s frame
forever holding the scorpion at bay.

Nights are again breath-tight and sleep-lost.
The stars are missing, only the moon
blurs by. Age has become a blindfold.

We are sleeping in separate rooms.
But I can still feel your breath
on the nape of my neck, your hand
warm on my hip, your absence
my shield.

Week Six
by Hannah Connolly

I suppose it took a global pandemic for
me to realise
just how much I have always loved
the smell of wisteria.
Watching clouds drift
from windows,
rooftop bus rides to nowhere and
sipping rosé in beer gardens,
playing at sophistication and world-weariness.

I suppose it took a global pandemic for
me to notice
just how much I have always hated
the sound of early morning alarms.
Chaotic nights out with people I hardly know,
fuelled by fomo and fear.
Sitting frustrated
in smoky traffic jams,
long train rides home without a buffet cart.

It seems it only took the whole world to stop whirring for
me to feel the wild warmth of
wasting time with people
who make you feel safe.
Even if it is on Zoom.

Gratitude
by Alice Lenkiewicz

Aware of this world
Closing inwards
Forcing me to
Panic
Imposing limitations
Although I realise
I should be
Grateful as I wander
Through this green
Haven of beautiful
Luminous Daisies.

Perhaps there is
Some underlying force
Guiding us Leading us
To something more
Meaningful
A higher plane
Uniting us
Helping others
Respect for those
Who care – The
NHS – the homeless
The elderly and vulnerable
The invisible now
Visible

Opening our eyes to
Hope and love
Resonates like
A folk song
Passing from one
Generation to another
A time for peace and reflection
Giving back to the earth
As we seek the truth like
Huckleberry nomads
With rucksacks and poems
Free at last
On a wild freight train

Incoming
by Vanessa Pimbert

It began as a rumble, a small, but clear
Ripple of thunder in the distance.
Then came the noises of voices,
Newsreaders, politicians,
Lastly, of course, those in pain.

It continued with pictures, rushing,.
Oxygen tanks, faces crushed, airless,
Preparing for breath, or no breath.

Captive in graphs,
People were numbers, flattened by
The language of science,
Foreign and strange.

Then like the great swell of a monstrous sea,
It surged.
Consuming. Expanding.
Connecting, crowding in, multiplying,

Standing, waiting,
We paused…drew breath. Held it.
Then crushing, crawling, waves crashed
Coughing to the ground.
Leaving the caught, suffocated souls,
Drowning.

And we shut our doors.
Our mouths, our faces, our lives.
Hid in airless, stuffy rooms,
Prison safety,
To watch masks, on television,
All around us, shielding.

Now, friends are strangers,
Eerie, cloistered lives
Lived in away,
Rhythmic, distant, alone.
Like priests, or miners,
Enclosed by the familiar.
Exposed to unknown fates

As days becomes months,
Months became seasons.
We wait. We watch. We pray.
Not breathing,
But surviving

You are not just a number 
Peri Z. Cagirici

You all had faces, you all had names and a story that you left behind.
You turned into numbers, some not even counted,
just registered as figures on bar charts, line graphs and statistics.
You all left friends and relatives who never got the chance to say farewell.
Or even to see you before you closed your eyes on this world.

Many of you died prematurely but we were told, ‘They were going to die anyway!’
Many of you died not even being aware of the deadly disease called covid-19.
Many of you died because of insufficient and inadequate health care,
relentlessly attacked year on year by governments dealing in private care,
with ten years of cuts here, cuts there and cuts everywhere.

Many of you died because you were told everything was under control
and you would be safe if you stayed at home.
Many of you died because you were made to believe the virus wouldn’t kill you
unless you were old with ‘underlying health issues’.
Many of you died because those you elected thought your life wasn’t worth saving.

Some of you died heroically as you put others’ lives before yours.
Some of you died because you were denied the right to be tested and the right to be protected.
Some of you died without being reported or even recognised as patients of covid19
but you will be recorded as dead from other ‘underlying health problems’.
Some of you died because you were denied basic nourishment since you were born.

You all had faces, you all had names that will be turned into numbers in time.
Before then, here’s hoping that we all learn lessons to pass on to the generations to come.
May all of you rest in peace, whatever your colour, religion, ethnicity and gender
and deep condolences to all your loved ones you left behind!

Dog
by Virginia Griem

He’s back – says he’s tired of being dead, has come to keep me company these weeks of lockdown. I wasn’t expecting him or anyone else for that matter, so sitting by the river, remembering what home was like when there was husband, child, dog – well family – and how different the last few years have been without them, I didn’t expect to feel that wet nose creep into the palm of my hand. Of course there’s nothing there but damp grass, yet somehow as I walk back along the path there is a presence at my heel, and this time it stays, doesn’t need a lead, doesn’t go chasing after rabbits, or bark at other dogs. And I can take it home and let it lie on my feet as I type, feel the snuggle by my side as I read on the sofa, hear the thud of soft paws on the stairs. You’ve been away too long – I tell him. I did come – he replies – but you were always too busy to see me.

Through the glass
by Ali Webb

As the sun rises on another day,
The walls feel as if they are closing in,
Ten weeks alone,
Silence, broken, by the clock.
Tick tock.

Through dusty glass,
I see a world frozen fast.
Paralysed in time,
children’s laughter;
A memory frozen in Amber.

The old man across the street,
Oh how he weeps,
Alzheimer’s took his wife of 60 years
To a nursing home
Now hes alone.

He stands proudly upon his step
Solitude broken; for a fleeting moment
Hands raised to the heavens
And he begins to clap, clap for the nurses, the carers and the other key workers.

He claps for those risking all for his wife,
The cancer ward who are saving his life.
He claps for the heros to many to name.
He claps for the noise, hoping to stay sane.
For the virus is deadly,
Its already taken so much from so many.

Stay At Home (Thank You)
by India Kim

I count down the days,
While the numbers rise.
The world cries blood,
And the fever is high.
Sunny days not felt.
Don’t look at the sky,
But instead at my hands,
That tremble under faucet.
Song hummed for 20 seconds,
A melody without meaning.
It’s not my birthday,
But still I sing.
Anything to block out the terror.
The media runs wild,
The internet, a zoo.
We’re all trapped indoors,
Complaining there’s nothing to do.
Confined to my bed,
Chest laden with lead,
I can’t breathe!
Hugs are a drug,
A junkie without a fix.
I smile for the camera,
Spread a message of calm.
That’s all I can do,
There’s nowhere to run.
The future is unknown,
An inevitable to follow,
All we can do now,
Is wish for a better tomorrow.

Night walk
by Ann Worrall

We took a walk around the garden.
Black night. You had a torch and
Held my arm. “We might see
Hedgehogs,” you said, sounding as
Young as when we married, those
Forty seven years ago.

The air was full of drowsy scent-
Apple blossom we deduced. The
Trees are smothered in it.
A dog barked once or twice in the distance
The only noise that disturbed
Our silence.

You showed me the shrunken stream,
And where it had Winter-eroded the bank.
Wild garlic and chives surrounded the tree
With the blue tit box – you
Were sure they were nesting- and petals
Covered the grass like flakes of snow.

The hedgehogs were hiding. Even
Your torch could not find where. But
Solar lanterns lit the greenhouse.
You had placed glass pieces
Inside the one you had mended to
Reflect an eerie green.

And all the while, your hand,
Familiar, safe, moved me away
From where the orchids
Were beginning to show so we
Wouldn’t crush them.

What a sight we made, me
In my too short pyjamas and
You with your worn trousers.
Old now. And yet I felt so
Young in wonder.

Sometimes
by Clive Grewcock

Sometimes I like to take a step to the side
Sometimes I will let life move past me
Sometimes I like to lean my head back
Sometimes I will close my eyes
Sometimes I like to breathe slowly
Sometimes I will also breathe deeply
Sometimes I like to enter a space called
Sometimes

Evening Walk During Covid 19 Lockdown.
by Melinda Walker

No ale at the creek
now. Black barns
brood hulk
Walkers exercise
their rights
giving wide berth.

Meeting friends
by accident,
obeying
two metre rule
is contactless
and bitter sweet.
Boats bob listlessly,
going nowhere
Custom house windows
gaze vacant with no custom.

On the way home
a cinema poster says
Time Runs Out July 2020
but Peter Rabbit is coming
Soon.

The Guildhall Union Jack
flaps from its mast, forlorn
without a breath in it today.
And then I’m home in time
to clap in my front garden
for the nhs

There aren’t many
of us tonight. So I clap longer,
louder, Bless you, bless you.

Confetti mourning
by Greg Freeman

The children on their daily exercise
paused to admire the pink
explosion; the cherry blossom
turned heads, gave pleasure,
stopped people in their tracks.

One morning workmen arrived early
with chainsaws that screamed
with rage; within minutes only
a stump, small hole in the middle,
remained. They pointed to the hole,

said the tree had been on its way out.
My wife grieved for the rest of the day.
The workmen hurriedly swept away
the petals, embarrassed by unwanted
confetti, an unexpected funeral.

The Bigger C
by Glyn Bagnall

The power of a planetary pandemic,
To mutate from a mere epidemic.
Social beings in isolation,
Tv, Zoom and Playstation.
Home delivery feeds the nation,
Foodbanks spread like contagion.

Package holidays disappear,
‘Mortgage holidays’ stratosphere.
Homeless guesting in hotel rooms,
Sales of beer bleeding well booms.

Burglars and shoplifters with nowhere to steal,
Domestic violence before and after a meal.
People dodging bullets to avoid you in the park,
6 feet under if not 6 feet apart!

Trump’s “gone by Easter”, if only it was him!
Authoritarian Xi keeps all Chinese in.
Bolsonaro self- violates Brazil,
Poor old Boris gets very ill.

Empty roads, rail, and in the air,
Pollution reduced, no masks to wear!?
Bird song abundant, spring trees in bloom,
Nature unaware of impending doom.

The Big C vanquished by a MONSTER one,
NHS Worldwide savagely overrun,
PPE and masks in short supply
Inaction means 1000’s more die.

Sunday services given online,
God to save us from dying?
It’s the World at war with covid-19,
How long we pray, for a vaccine?

The Prisoners
by Karen Glen

the prisoners
are told how to organise their day
have breakfast at the same time every day
have lunch at the same time everyday
have dinner at the same time every day
the prisoners
have their work time everyday
have their recreation time everyday
have their exercise everyday
have their visitors everyday
the prisoners
have their lockdown everyday
have the TV to watch everyday
have their work training everyday
have their psychotherapy every day
the people
can’t cope with organising their day
yet
they are in lockdown too

How learning
by Sarah Miney

Wern you at home you have nothing to do
But gess what the evli teacher give is a lot of work to teach us but it is bringing feelings
You have no one to help you your die to get help

Before the clapping starts
by Patrick Williamson

There they are again, the walkers
under the trees at twilight, when
the day is done, and the runners
pounding down silent roads, and
dogs padding along, straining at
the leash, and the clouds are
gathering, it’s been another cold
day today as if autumn is upon us
as the sky is so dark, the weather is
turning, the tide is turning, one of
which is true, but there is a long
way to go and, like me, the trees
are immobile as if afraid to be
shaken by the winds, come out,
step out, reopen, move, but is it
time you say, be careful, or earth
shall rest lightly upon us

Self-isolation
by Lea Hojnosova

The whole world went silent,
the whole world went numb,
but the pandemic is not the reason
why we are locked down.
We isolate from our feelings
not to be harmed,
we isolate from people
not to be let down.
We isolate from our desires
in order not to sin,
and we isolate from living
in order to live.

Rewind on Lockdown
by Bridie Breen

Time, is ours to share
Be it on this Earthly sphere
or among the stars.
Separation is a temporary kind
Indelibly inked by connected minds.
Forged by wind, rain, joy and pain
A tapestry of life unfolds
Love, has its own infinity
Creates its own heaven
We are all part of the whole
A human bond remains strong
Steadfast through times of
challenge or sorrow
We hope for better days to shape our tomorrows
Invest our care in the here and now
Remind ourselves, constant presence in heart, possesses soul
Knowing deep inside, though apart, we are never alone.
Think beyond constraints
Lockdown is what it is, so no complaints.

April 5th 2020
by Kathleen Carroll

1 Yesterday
I wrote a list / I made a routine / I woke up and set about to interrupt and
disrupt it / I walked to a seat / sat with my back to the view / all aloof to a
silence that would sing / if a muffled ear was tuned / a friend wrote this inside
flat screen life is shite / she was right.

2 Today
I peaked too soon / went out early & too fast / my body wound like clockwork
waddled in a wood / where trees were felled / long lithe trunks in bits /
roguish bark / some landed upright / alert totems / tribal strangers /
people passed mostly at 2 meters.

3 Tomorrow
I’ll try some of today / and more of yesterday / to make tomorrow a different day / I’ll be better at this by then / this staying in and daren’t go out / this shapeless shifting inside / unpeopled house / I’ll be all present tense / stay in the ‘now’ / start close in / stare down the ‘how’

note to self
by Colleen Keating

laughter of friends on zoom
is no more than a polished reflection
of its cosy
aura in real life

top priorities
when this isolation is over
warm greetings hugs
family
to touch
to touch again

stay closer than 1.5 metres
smell the vibrance of youth
milky scent of a grandchild

crowd in as many concerts
art galleries, picnics in parks
walks by the sea

note to self
never take your freedoms for granted
ever again

We Always Go Back
by Ellie Parnham

Mornings brisk brightly in solitude when
Silenced bodies are squeezed inside;
The trees make noise,
Scatter light that rocks the swing.
A drowsy council harbours empty litany, lets
The slick allotments overgrow another day.

Wetness spurs a change in the neat allotments and
A blackbird halts its song of solitude
without assembly or council.
Fresh bodies peep the soil.
Arms return, wielding, swinging
Close enough to hit the trees.

Swollen fruit drops from the trees and
Relishes it’s liberty. The allotments bloom,
Untethered, flaccid leaves swing low.
Wizened men scratch in idle solitude amongst the leaves
Together, their feathered bodies touching.
The shirts and ties go back to council.

The rich are treated by the council.
Children climb the trees.
Bodies sweat together, blend, simmer,
Warmly bloated in the allotments,
partitions broken in impatient solitude.
The leaves stop swinging; erect, they stand ascending.

A pendulum swings; the scales tip.
The council hide their skin and
Children resist the solitude.
The trees, green, alert and standing, abscond the
Allotments hiding
Bodies underneath.

The alighted bodies kill the shirts,
Fists swing gut punches at the fore.
Detritus fever descends on damp allotments;
Divides the naked council wing from wing.
The giant trees shrug and move
As England returns to solitude.

Nothing grows in parched allotments where festered bodies spoil.
Instead in light of solitude they gather to beat the swing of lethargy;
Send council out to pasture beneath the swaying trees.

Gently Easing Lock-down; Decisions
by Amanda Lewis

Boris says we can go to the Park, for a lark, for sitting, for picnicking.
More, we can meet a friend
Just one. For fun.
I want to make it count
After eight long weeks waiting.
Which park? Which friend?
And who shall I offend
in choosing?

I’m thinking, deliberating
soon it will be raining.
I want to choose the perfect park, for my bestest friend
a memory to sustain us, should the great scientific experiment fail
and we all get locked in again.
Forever?
Who, where and when?
And then, what if
on the day I choose,
they say
they are busy meeting with their
bestest friend too?

A moment for reflection
by Amy Cornock

The word lockdown may sound like oppression
Or some may say a deep depression
But for me, I feel a deep connection
With nature, friends, family and my own mind
It’s shown me the fragility and warmth of mankind.

Teachers, nurses and all key workers we salute you
Your valued part in history will see us through
Showing bravery and determination
You are all truly an inspiration.

Being told to follow herd immunity
Flouting the rules with total impunity
Fears of catching this deadly illness
Keep calm, carry on, enjoy the stillness.

Missed weddings, birthdays, holidays with friends
How can we recreate them? Can’t we just pretend?
None of this matters, in the grand scheme of things
Your health and wellbeing come before that big ring.

PE with Joe Wicks, Zoom chats, online speed dating
With all of that, who’s got time left for home baking?
Continuously trying to learn new skills
When some days you just want to run for the hills.

No pubs, shops nor holidays to Gran Canaria
For some that’s Utopia, for others Dystopia!
But all of this is merely an insignificance
When we look at Mother Earth and her powerful dominance.

Clapping for key workers at 8 ‘o’ clock each Thursday
Neighbours cheering and pots and pans banging away
Sprinting down the road full speed like Sally Gunnell
Hoping to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

So what have we learned from this global pandemic?
Fighting British spirit or empty rhetoric?
When historians look back on this what may they find?
Tales of survival, friendship and how life was a bind.

So let’s take a final moment for reflection
Be kind, respect the planet, look after others
When all’s said and done we’re just sisters and brothers!
We’ll become more humble and full of sorrow
As we now realise there may be no tomorrow
In years to come when we’re all grey and old
Never forget these stories we once told.

The Selfish Isolator
by Simon Tindale

Week one
I bought all the bog roll in town.
There’s not quite enough to go round.
Perhaps I should issue
You all with one tissue
To use when the shit’s going down.

Week two
They cancelled my spring holiday.
The football’s postponed until May.
The pubs are all shut
I’ve a pain in my butt
But the doctor says ‘please stay away’.

Week three
Someone is murdering The Bangles
Now ‘Angels’ is going through the mangle.
‘Stayin Alive’ follows
‘I Will Survive’
I’d rather hear ‘Cats’ being strangled.

Week four
The neighbour’s no good at home schooling.
It’s only himself that he’s fooling.
Those ignorant brats
Won’t learn English or maths.
Their bad language needs overruling.

Week five
Our leaders are out of their depth.
Their vision lacks clarity and breadth
Is it worth jumping in
when you’re struggling to swim?
Are you better off saving your breath?

Week six
You may be surprised that this loner
signed up to become a blood donor.
A gallon of ale’s
been instilled in these veins.
I do hope it chokes the Corona.

Life As We Know It
by Maisy Ashall

Life as we know it is tortured with isolation,
Each of us trapped inside a bubble,
We have become a separated nation,
Whilst the streets sit free of trouble.

Life as we knew it was filled with joy,
Carried over the void of emptiness with rainbows,
The virus appeared so it could destroy,
Watching from the sky as we suffer below.

Hope is lingering far in the distance,
Just waiting for us to arrive,
We must break free of the nagging persistence,
Of the virus that we will survive.

Day 21
by Brian Lewis

A two-tone hopscotch
on the pavement of my street —
twenty-one scuffed squares.

Think of a number,
remember all this colour —
pathways after rain.

Not So Alone
by Clive Grewcock

How old do you think she is
Taking root in her rigid chair?
Flaking bark, twisted branches
Thinning hair.

Don’t judge before knowing her name
Don’t reduce her life
To a simple guessing game.
Sitting in a skin barely asleep
Folded round memories good
And those still running deep.
Count the bands of the years
It doesn’t matter how old but, for how long
Hollow cheeks cut with tears,
The wind blowing things unsaid
Remembering days not so alone
Swaying softly with blossom to spread.

Whisht Whisht
by Katya D’Oray

Whisht! Whisht!
Don’t be so fast to scramble
over the deeper unfolding
of this new story.
Each erudite quote; considered phrase
acting as another handhold, foothold
as you strive to reach the pinnacle
and plant your flag at the summit!

Ah, the relief! Now you understand.
You’ve got this covered, under control.
It is This. It is That. It is the Other.
Named and categorised.
Fold it all up and put it neatly
into your clean linen drawer.
Now you can tell everyone else
what all this means. Bravo!
You, who are still unravelling
the traumas of your childhood
from twenty, thirty, forty years ago!

What if we stay with the tension?
Sit on the edge of an unknowing
that scares the hell out of us.
It hurts and it’s so uncomfortable.
What if we carry our ignorance
to the foot of an ancient tree,
to the banks of a wild river
to a place on an open hill.
Cover our naked selves with ashes
and as we keen,
lean in, lean in, lean in
to the fear, the grief and the longing.

We don’t have to know what to do.
We don’t have to know how to do it.
Not yet.
Listen to the symphony of this change;
the last movement hasn’t even been written yet.
The creative act is messy, convoluted, often lengthy.
Not tied up with a piece of string and done!
Maybe give it all some loving attention
before you wrap it up.

Listen attentively in this new quiet
that is circling our ears.
We each have our own insights,
inspiration and wisdom.
Let’s settle in for the time being.
Time that we have been gifted.
Allow ourselves to be broken;
sometimes surprised,
occasionally delighted
by what reveals itself
from the remains of what once was.
Whisht. Whisht.

Whisht – a Scottish and Irish word meaning hush, be quiet! Often used to soothe livestock.

Lockdown
by AKM Abdullah

And— when the terrifies sticked on the designed handkerchief ; the walls of the quarantines trembled.Our heartbeats increased. Our breath became smaller. The latest projector became on automatically. And three colours scene displayed on the screen ; where,waved our inner symptoms.

And then the strange siren break the lockdown walls and come down ; we tie the survival yearns up with the head and jump in the Android-lake— but the radiation- palui break the glassprotector and captive us. And when we hear the Embroidery announcement— the Richmond park,Sayedabad bus terminal or Komla Pur rail station fell from our clapping gap’s. Our lamentations become divided and lost in the crowd.

Oh ! If ever come drunken sigh grain from the corked bottle ; I will also be a story on the screen of survival time.

I don’t know what I’m doing
by Julia Smith

Have you seen the world recently

Still and serene

From your secluded spot?

Packed, pressured, panicked

Cramped, crumbling, cracking

Cracked!!!

Crying over all the nothings

You have collected

In this abundance

Of silence

Monsters making merry

With your short memory

Monuments

Made on other people’s mayhem

JUST STOP!!!

We weren’t meant for this

And it’s okay

To stand on rooftops

While others clap

And shout LOUDLY!

BECAUSE YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING!!!

But you’re doing your best

Even if it’s just for now

Even if it’ll be for later

Even if you’re loud and angry and ridiculous

Even if you’re like me

Who doesn’t know what she’s doing

But is doing it

All the same

Lockdown: noli me tangere
by Simon Stacey

The strangeness of it, too, is intangible,
As if distance measured a quite other world.
Out of touch by email or by suddenly-familiar Zoom,
We cross the road to pass by in charity, avoiding people.

“Wash your hands” now no mere matronly mantra,
Graphs shout, but the Samaritans take their usual calls.
It can never just be someone else’s problem;
In the hospitals, they are about it: saving lives.

Concentrate on them: a nightmare of space-suits (or their absence);
The marker-pen on the whiteboards scribbling “COVID-19”
Endlessly; exhaustion and its conquering;
Sheer precision under pressure; and courage, like a gift of air.

A vicious thing, for sure, and me furloughed with my inadequate literary parallels:
Stephen Kumalo, ostensibly plagueless, crying for his beloved country
In the city or on the veldt;
Friar John with his message, sealed by the public health inspectors in an Italian town,
Ensuring Romeo and Juliet will never speak again, not face to face.
The pain today is pageless: loved ones in their thousands who can’t get near enough
To say goodbye.

Outside, Spring seems to know nothing of dying,
May-blossom worn like a pristine white mask.
But dark love draws us close, under even a full-face visor:
In small acts of kindness, in the clapping of the steps of every hero.

“Do not touch me,” he told her, risen:
Soon to go elsewhere, for now to stay awhile.
Many are taken before their time, we sense,
We know. “Go well, stay well”, they say in Zulu.

And we cannot wash our hands of any of this.

Where’s My Normal Gone?
by Helen Long

Fragile, headache, feel unwell and battered, Hot then cold, equilibrium tattered.
No one’s at the tiller, no one’s at the helm, Yet I’m transported to another realm.
This oblique world looks the same, but it’s all wrong, The days and hours so interminably long.
To a parallel universe I have travelled, And now I seem quite unravelled.
I’ve gone through a portal, I know not how, But onward I must weakly plough.
I can’t find myself, I’ve disappeared,
It’s miserable, sweaty and horribly weird.
Whilst my happy memories have left and gone, I battle a fever that goes on and on.
No restful sleep can be reached,
All my defences have been breached.
This oxygen deficient state in which I’m hurled, Is a never ending and wretched world.
A blackout, an ambulance, a hospital ward, It’s Covid virus and pneumonia I’ve scored.
‘Til the antibiotics have been completed, All I can do is lie and be treated.
Ebbed away are my energy and vitality,
Surreal dreams make me question reality.
Beep-bleep, beep-bleep, beep-bleep, beep-bleep, The constant soundtrack preventing sleep!
This viral illness has left me so tired, Where’s my ‘normal?’ it’s all that’s desired.
To breath with no effort, no cough, no aid, Is my goal, my aim, my slow crusade.
Perseverance, rest, remedies, supplements, The N.H.S angels have my grateful compliments.

Home again, exhausted; the miasma lifts, The matrix of misery, it slowly shifts.
It inches and slides back under its rock, While my recovery continues around the clock.
‘It’ retreats back to its dark netherworld, Where stolen vitalities lay tightly curled.
The unhappy descent of unwilling donors, Left them sucked of life and sorry loaners.

So, eventually I can say I’m well again, My health is my focus, my latest campaign.
My life was on hold, the pause button pressed, Now I’m thankful to be better and feeling much blessed.
Everyday minutiae is a glorious thing,
My perspective’s adjusted, my step has a spring.
The memory is fading day by day,
As new events push it further away.

Covid-19 / Lockdown In The Suburbs
by Cosmo Goldsmith

No stirrings of breeze
no fidget of traffic
just the garden birds revelling
in these weighted silences
these new found lands
of suburban lawns and small town streets

And this world of old familiarities
has shrunk before me
into this pale limbo land
this grey indoors
of rooms and chambers,
this lockdown, this house-arrest
this strange transit-zone
of gentle confinement,
this muffled waiting-room hush
these stacked shelves and drawers
of suppressed anxieties,
this micro-climate
with its heavy atom spheres
pressing down upon us in tensions
of guilt and helplessnes.

And yet there are the strange cruel gains the deep solitudes of sky that have formed, creation glowing and rippling into brighter notes of birdsong than ever before, into the music of the trophospheres of flowing blue realms above us which the geese have reclaimed haunting the heavens with their cries of elation and lament unwavering in their flightpaths their seamless interchange of positions, the gloved swish and creaking of their hinged wings.

There is a healing here.
no ranks, no hierarchies,
anarchists of the heavens
offering up vistas of a parallel world
of new found lands and skies.

No stirrings of breeze
no fidget of traffic
just the garden birds revelling
in these weighted silences
these new found lands
of suburban lawns and small town streets

And this world of old familiarities
has shrunk before me
into this pale limbo land
this grey indoors
of rooms and chambers,
this lockdown, this house-arrest
this strange transit-zone
of gentle confinement,
this muffled waiting-room hush
these stacked shelves and drawers
of suppressed anxieties,
this micro-climate
with its heavy atom spheres
pressing down upon us in tensions
of guilt and helplessnes.

And yet there are the strange cruel gains the deep solitudes of sky that have formed, creation glowing and rippling into brighter notes of birdsong than ever before, into the music of the trophospheres of flowing blue realms above us which the geese have reclaimed haunting the heavens with their cries of elation and lament unwavering in their flightpaths their seamless interchange of positions, the gloved swish and creaking of their hinged wings.

There is a healing here.
no ranks, no hierarchies,
anarchists of the heavens
offering up vistas of a parallel world
of new found lands and skies.

When will the WiFi Die?
by Charlotte Ansell

A throbbing knee from too much exercise with crumbling bones

Sudden waves of heat, panic, wine give way to pleasant joy of freedom

A busy head of plans, courses, routes to new life without getting on a plane

Burying the debt calls and letters for surely now they will leave me alone

A Victorian day, build a circuit, apps and more apps, times tables, but PE or walk, run, Fortnite, panic comes again, the hateful battles

When will the WiFi die?

Essential Freedom
by Christopher Sedgwick

“ Make sure you do not leave your home
Unless it is essential ”

I think we now can all agree
Our need for freedom is most evidential

Comparing ourselves to caged animals in zoos Now sympathetically going mental

But think of those who didn’t have freedom Before this event became so consequential

Like those locked indoors by abusive partners So mentally influential

Children locked away in their minds by unfit parents Stifling their full potential

Those locked behind the bars of their eyes With depression and anxiety, torrential

Or those who would love nothing more than the safety Of four small walls, the feeling so presidential

So although the suffering we feel in lockdown May be far from preferential

Let’s just take a moment before we complain To consider those going through Something truly existential

The calm
by Brenda Read-Brown

It’s been quiet here today.
The silver birch shivered
but didn’t moan or cry;
the slow worms slithered
but didn’t gasp for air.
The odd dog on a lead
didn’t bark,
and its owners failed to cough.
No children shouted
or laughed.
No machinery whirred –
lawns remained unmowed,
and even my secateurs were well-oiled.
The wind chimes ran out of fuel,
and didn’t ring for help.
It was as if someone had died,
but nobody has. Not here.
Not yet.

Cats and dogs
by Brenda Read-Brown

We are all puppies now,
on pause until we get our leads
and take ourselves for a walk –
every step a scent of freedom,
every leaf a new page of delight,
every path an escape.

And then we’re kittens,
playing games we haven’t thought of
for a lifetime,
eating whatever we’re given by the freezer, curling on our rugs in a doze of daytime TV.

One day we’ll be human again,
but we won’t forget this,
this time when we remembered ourselves
and became puppies and kittens;
this time when grass grew under our feet in clean, unexpected air; this time when life and death went on elsewhere.

Sorry
by Brenda Read-Brown

I broke the rules today
and went out twice.
I’m the poet who declares
payments in cash,
but today I broke the rules
and went out twice.

And the second time
gave bare branches sketched
on a toothpaste sky,
the up-yours scut of a rabbit,
the stars of a grateful rocket
at 8 p.m.; a Thursday.

I was solitary in twilight,
guilty of staring at the half-moon
that reflected my sin.
I broke the rules today
and went out twice.
I’m sorry.

Lamentation
by Kate Gold

Stranger, I do not know you.
You died alone
Isolated from family or friend.
Away from those who may
have held your hand;
shared that final breath with you;
whispered words of comfort and love
as you fought to let air sustain you.
You died alone.

Stranger, I do not know you.
I lit this candle in the glow of dusk.
I let my tears fall onto the quiet earth.
I sang the thousand names of sorrow
at your leaving.
Called out in lamentation
to the stars as they appeared.
And prayed that your Beloveds
came to meet you
in joy and celebration
as they brought you Home.

Blue Plastic Gloves
by Gilly Hare

It came with lightning speed-the change.
The shift.
The armies of unnoticed rallying.
The key workers.

An invisible spectre
Haunting the streets

Blue-clad warriors reporting for duty
Wearing masks fashioned on 3D printers. The special ones.
Gripped by terror; the claps do not reach far enough.
But they will
Never let us see.

An invisible spectre
Putting hands on the unfortunate few.

Children and parents at kitchen tables.
Sat in bedrooms.
Some sat nowhere at all.
The sudden weight of it.
Sustaining interest.
Juggling. Managing.
The gradual realisation that school is more than a building. Its heart reduced to daily e mails.

An invisible spectre
Kept at the door with disinfectant and soap.

Drivers darting on the roads
Delivering, delivering.
Groceries in plastic trays.
Getting the this and that of daily life
To its destination.
Faces covered.
Gloved like
Nurses
Enjoying new status
Recipients shouting thanks across the two metre divide.
But it doesn’t feel like that.
15 hour days. Just a living wage.

An invisible spectre
Clawing at the door of the van

On the networks of the land.
They propel buses and trains
From here to there.
Perpetuating the myth
That you can socially distance on the number 9.
Carrying the newly identified heroes in and out of town. Trying not to breathe too deeply.

An invisible spectre
Travelling through tunnels and rising onto the streets.

On the daily news
A shift from podium to spare room broadcasts.
National reassurance
We will fund.
We will provide.
But the systems are broken or slow
And the spare room cupboard is verging on empty.
The messages morph and change with no hint of apology.

An invisible spectre
Keeps us at home

We make pastry and make bread.
Our front doors shield us
We stay at indoors or in quiet gardens.
Protect the nhs.
Protect ourselves from the reality that the blue gloved army see.
Key workers.
Shielding the nation from reality.

The invisible spectre
Winds its fingers
Around blue gloved hands
And takes for its own
The unlucky few.
Those unlucky few deemed essential. Vital. Disposable.
A few given for the many.

Their sacrifice documented on breakfast television.
Marked with a social media portrait.
Clap for the nhs.
Clap for the key workers.

The spectre slips on a pair of plastic gloves.
And resumes his work.

Wide Landscapes
by Pip Heywood

We are each on the back foot
Thrown back on our devices
With no way of rushing off
To occupy the time

As though we are all in detention
With lines to write and pens
Well poised, we have to write
To say those things

Which there is never quite
The right time to set down
‘Til now, to write or even say
Out loud to those locked in with you

Or say inside to you
Yourself, it may be hard but
If you do you’ll see and say
And hear with a new prospect

To see beyond the brick wall
New spuds and spinach
Nudging through, new head
In this clasped space

To know head space and
Time are in our hands, and wide
Landscapes are just beyond the
Frame if we but peep and see

“Lockdown isn’t so bad if you only… “
by Graeme Sandford

… write prose,
but, you really need to get out
and stop counting your toes;
you have to see the world
for your poetry fix,
let your mind be uncurled,
and do a ‘three-Weetabicks’
the skies and the birds,
the fields, vales, and trees,
as Little Miss needed Curds,
We need to feel Breeze.

So, when all is safe,
and freedom returns,
our minds can unchafe
and Nature relearns,
writing will flourish,
our thoughts fly from prose,
and counting the fingers
we stuck up our nose.”

Easter Day 2020
by Laura Jerram

Ten thousand souls have said goodbye
Ten thousand more perhaps waiting to die Ten thousand doctors called time of death Ten thousand nurses witnessed someone’s last breath Ten thousand partners and ten thousand mothers Ten thousand sisters and ten thousand brothers Ten thousand families all grieving alone Ten thousand reasons to stay at home

Mutation
by JP Seabright

It passed across the species barrier
and then along the food chain
gifted through the shaking of hands
perfunctory pleasantries in business meetings received in the reassuring hugs between parent and child in the open-mouthed kisses of lovers in the sharing of teacups the flying sweat of the dance floor the choosing of fruit at the supermarket trips to the pub and the post office from my face to yours from being to being through touching through breathing

Covid
by Ian Jones

Mortal realisation ascends today,
Whilst compulsive cleanliness slides inside every decision made.
What have I touched
Who have I held
Unseen enemies stain the affection I share.
Loneliness resides along the safe road home.

Lockdown Love Letter to Ledbury Poetry Festival
by Susan Evans

Dear Ledbury Poetry Festival,

Since you kindly asked:
I am loving loved ones like
never before. I hug myself.
Home is refuge & prison;
a heavy closed door. Behind,
perfume & bleach compete.
I feel like Susan Sontag’s “Alice
in Bed.” Angry. I long to escape.
I meditate to create calm.
Social media is mostly doom &
zoom ~ Spring upstages us all.
Pause book launch for “Shift
Happens” (no sh*t Sherlock).
Applause from windows &
doors, every Thursday at 8, for
the over worked & underpaid ~
may we all see pots of gold
at the end of those rainbows…
Jamie Oliver rocks the lockdown
with ‘bed hair’ for his new show:
‘Keep Cooking & Carry on.’
I carry on more than is deemed
necessary; fuelled by anxiety.
I can’t wait for a dinner date…
VE Day, 75th Commemoration,
I am more Vera Gin than Lynne.
In war, does anyone truly win?
(Fascism is still happening…)
Moved by WWII drama, the
Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel
Society. & new Lee Miller
documentary. Stay home. Binge
Radio & TV. The new ‘social
responsibility.’ Learn to ‘make do
& mend’ again. Embrace precious
air time. Appreciate the new social
distance dance of the socially
minded. Navigating those on ‘Planet
Janet’ (this is hedonistic Brighton)
bit more of a task:
“OVER 30,OOO UK DEATHS!” I yell
inside my head, as ‘space cadet’
violates my person; triggers panic
attack & an overdose of anti-bac.
(I am labelled hysterical & paranoid).
But apart from that, I’m fine!!
Dreamt of red wine; symbolic of life
force. Still writing of course.
Have started writing for the Daily
Haiku. How about you? Sx

A Butterfly in Moonlight
by Jobe Berrington

it’s things so strange as
these stranger times
that makes me long
for the strangest things

After
by Sascha Akhtar

& when you choose who
You will see first &
What you will do, first – what if
Another chooses you first?

& your lists of doing &
Seeing – they will never

End & in the aftermath
the greatest tragedy will be

Offense – taken by us
when all those wonderful people, we
longed to see – have gone back

To being impossible to see
& we all need to make appointments, again

To see, each other, maybe
At some point – in a future

That is all speck &

possible illusion.

Rise to the Bait with Faith
by Krushna Mishra

It all came with a thud
with the television set
screaming to a sobering silence
to push us all to corners where
fear only now lurks and our own
dear long united part from us
imparting the lesson of nearness
over a distancing that cures
not like a curse bitter and dry
but a help that asks us to try
if the virus dreaded be to
a crushing defeat stashed
till safety in a bang returns
and all drifting apart now
in good knowledge cheer
all those turn safe and hear
the world is saved and gods
in labs have created the magic
to inject with abracadabra
and end the pandemic with
its panic sighs and hushed signs
to make life bloom again ending
the gloom of millennia for
lessons we will carry into
centuries unborn now to
teach us to love and live
leaving life in all forms
safe for a friendly planet
in a wise flood of clean boldness.

Cry no more if you love and
know you are loved in turn ,
know your love will be safe
when you stay separate sure
defeating the virus virulent
with a heart clean and pure,
know the key to life is love,
to love to live is the lesson hard,
dead are all that don’t love ,hear,
rise to the bait with faith you bear.

Mason Bee
by Richard Hawtree

I’ve lost this morning’s brightest words:
fenland blooms that nudge, bodies that fix a secret course across the universe.

Outside the fluent mason bee,
testing the gap in tired bricks,
consoles with homespun clarity.

Refuge
by Brendan Hawthorne

My home was once symbolic
of lifetime achievement
What I came back to after a shift
A haven in which to relax
Dwell upon the day
Celebrate and debate
through the parallax
of half empty wine glasses
The world was out there
just through the picture window
the other side of my front door
past the bins and down the path a bit
before this seed of destruction
raised the social contact drawbridge
on the preservation of self isolation
In here the air is less polluted
but out there more contaminated
And the world has moved
into my field of vision living room
A world within an LCD screen
delivering packages of survival through
hot wired firewalls that pressure cook
mental health well being
on social media platforms
validated by approval ratings
It’s all there in high definition
to download and encounter at will
I will have to go with the flow
Swim upstream
Drown in terabytes of guilt
when others seem to be doing more
with their enforced withdrawal than I am
I see you through the window
Down the file path
Beyond the junk bin
I’m really well connected
but have never felt so alone

Hardship
Michael Thomas Hill

While we keep our heads, those
In government departments
Are losing theirs, blame us for
Their downfall

We trust them not to care a lot, they
Think of only themselves and
Not others.

Tired of listening to their lies
And not speaking a word about it

We keep our thoughts to ourselves
Treat each other the same, can’t take
The truth when told to their face
Or get through to the base

Talk with friends or walk between crowds
Of people, through town centres, forgive
Them not their pain
They to stand in the rain
Waiting for a train

Watch them wait and pass them by
Have no dealing with hate.

Them not be man or woman
And breathe not a word to them
About your dreams

What they don’t know can’t hurt them
They’ll never be told or out in the cold……?

They’re not human’ putting people out on
The streets with no food to eat…. or shoes for
Their feet……!

Through a Time Darkly
by Marie Papier

There is no resemblance
between being locked up
in the broom cupboard or

the order to stay
at home, forget trade,
forget time, the name

of days, enjoying
silence and the song
of birds, until your flour

and oil, your wine have
run short, your hair is
turning white. Then

you begin to think life
is not what we’ve lived,
unconscious of

the origins of oil
and flour, the labour
involved with growing

the grapes until the end
of their captivity in dark barrels
down dark cellars until

the wine shines in cristal glasses,
swills in the mouths of connoisseurs
who know the slow maturation of life.

Locked In Syndrome
by Alan Wilson

Shall I compare this to a Pinter play?
No, it is more like a bit of Becket.
I see no one and ease my arid day
With verse, vainly trying not to wreck it –

Compare my lot to Godot’s hapless chums
Anatomising melancholy.
The good news can be counted on my thumbs; Bad, an endless fingering of folly.

To bear my bird I binge on Radio Three
While browsing with old friends of whom I’ve got A shelf-full, consumed with draughts of tea Alfresco, now the sun is getting hot.

Summer’s reprieve recedes, parole postponed.
Day after day the scythe is honed.

On living alone (with new plants)
by Nicholas Wong

The Spring sun
fills my house, painting it
oranges and yellows.

I turned off my radiator, and now
my new plants,
friends,
live there.

The evening is colder
than expected
without sun, or
friends.

Do I choose the cosy warmth of plants,
friends,
or the loving embrace
of central heating?

I think the answer
is clear.
Seven
Jumpers.

A Crush
by Julia Travers

I’m taken with you.
Mooning out of windows,
sharing a breath with you
through the door,
finding chores
that bring me
closer.

I lay down my schedule
to be with you today,
my face warms, lifted,
my chest buoyed,
ribs at full tilt,
limbs alight
with the electricity
of your generous beauty
quiet care
unassuming dance

I answer, Yes!
to your primal draw,
seek your love and forgiveness
grateful
enchanted
I drink your Honeysuckle nectar,
mouth all a curve,
skipping,
discombobulated, tipsy,
a mess,
all asunder,
in my crush
on Spring.

Two days in April
by Duncan Taylor

6 April
Locked inside on a cruel blue day
the leaves on my luscious foliage plant
feast on the sunshine
blossom on the cherry tree
about to erupt
silence reigns
the virus roams
out there, somewhere.

12 April
Bliss is the translucent blue sky
the achingly pink blossom of the magnolia before me a gentle breeze wandering bird song empty public places a forgotten garden overlooked by throngs holed up in isolation here is a community with nature a carpet of daises daffodils past their best hanging on grimly the first leaves of the majestic oak greet the warmth with gratitude and thanks for the Spring.

A sonnet for the NHS
by Ian Irwin

This Thursday night at eight o’clock I’ll clap

With heartfelt thanks: an echo off the bricks

And glass, for those who strive to help the sick,

Their sacrifice designed to help us cope.

The honour and the glory theirs to keep

Their resolution strong and hard to break.

These restless spirits fighting for our sakes

Are not remunerated or equipped.

Resounding claps are not exchanged for food.

The children can’t be clothed in gratitude.

Blue propaganda cloaks truth in lies.

The NHS is still our greatest prize.

It must be taken off the talks for trade

And selfless, honest workers duly paid.

Everything Under the Moon
by Amy Bacon

Blame the hipsters and youths –
don’t blame the government.
Blame those without gardens,
cyclists, sun-seekers in parks.
Don’t question the government –
blame the clumsy ones queuing
at A&E, the bed blockers
and those who lose the fight.
Don’t blame the government –
blame the maintenance crews
on £8.72.
Blame the panic-stricken –
the self-centered ones clenching
their hoards.
Don’t blame the companies
scraping up the earth,
or the foreign president
calling to mine the moon.

No Remedy
by Derek Sellen

He waits at the late-night pharmacy
for the tablets to keep his heart in sync.
He doesn’t speak to Next-in-Queue.

Balms and salves for all ills
line the shelves. This week’s miracle –
Vitamin D – is sold out though.

Clutching his bag of chemical tricks,
he sets off into the dark. Cautious,
he’ll detour around teen hangouts.

The wind rustles up sounds of pursuit.
His torch scans to left and right.
Why does it skip and tumble in his chest?

He fears,
more than the beat of other feet,
what might stalk the pathways of his breath.

A Forgotten World, an exaggeration of current events.
by Ethan Cartwright

I’ve woken up an a world I don’t recognise,
A world of strangers, confused and afraid.
The authorities say it’ll all be okay,
“There is no reason to be dismayed”

The cities are desolate monuments,
Concrete remnants of a forgotten past.
Nature has taken over,
A constant that will everlast.

We see only through the eyes of technology, Or through the layers of glass.
Out there the world keeps turning,
But here, time doesn’t pass.

The streets are damp and dirty,
In shops, there is only violence.
A stray dog may bark at the darkness,
Besides that, there’s no sound but silence

The world has forgotten compassion,
Lost what it means to love.
This isolation seems eternal,
No olive branch for the dove.

What Price Normality?
by Flloyd Kennedy

Don’t go out! They said.
Stay at home.
Keep your distance.
So what’s new?
What’s new was that it wasn’t just me
It was everybody.
I felt quite chuffed, to be
At last, part of a community.
How strange to reach my time of life
Always an oddity
But my way of life was now the new normal.
Ah, those were the days,
Filling the hours with novel ways
Of generating ideas to play with,
Writing, knitting, planting seeds to grow with, And tap-dancing – Re-creating my childhood only this time Without the guilty sense of time wasted, Of potential spilt.
It couldn’t last –
There is no pleasure without pain.
At first the dips and dives into gloom
Were few and far between;
Miniature downward spikes that came and went Without leaving a seeming Trail of destruction in their wake.
But slowly, surely, as is their wont
They expanded to full strength, making
The return to light a struggle hardly
Worth the fight.

And then, I realised I still was not alone!
CoronaCoaster is the new name
For the new norm.
Hooray for normality.
Not.

Hopes to regain
by Trishita Dey

Maybe it wasn’t meant to be like this,
how cruel, how mean!
Maybe it wasn’t meant to be such
a devastation
where the happiness of spring
turned into a state of demise
for the mankind.
How the beautiful dawn of
cherry blossom lost
in middle of the way.
It became standstill.
It was enough heartbreaking.
We became monotonous
with no patience left in us.
But you, yes you reading this
don’t loose the hopes.
With every fall, the leaves
regenerate and grow again.
So will we.
This period gave us the
precious gift of time.
This is the time to work
for our own self
and on our
culpabilities.
Whatelse happens!
but the hopes shouldn’t go
and yes we will be
getting through this.

When all the world stops
by Sian Banfield

When all the world stops,
Doors close in and
Close out
Cars cease their
constant, droning crocodile,
Keyboards click only
at a distance.

Then we become busy.
We think,
We read,
We talk,
We play.
We bake biscuits,
Butter-gold and crumbly.
We learn to listen
And we understand our
full capacity
For love.

 

Plagueground
by Steve Day

Today is not quite like any other
they are running a long haul fever
flight to recover their senses
left at the only address
identified as home.

Blue sky morning’s weather reporting
broadcast through a bright light of stripes flagged in slate and shadow; back where they believe they belong, dropped into a spring of locked down potency; no children’s games in the playground, bolted chains at the gate, this landed land is now their plagueground; re-entry arrival running late.

Already the white wood anemones are open, scattered across the rosary moss and beech cutting below a dry stone gully, blackthorn hedging the edge of hillside into seclusion.

Walking this path because this path is not usually used at such a partisan hour. This path is only known to those in the know and those in the know will either have visited earlier or at dusk, after their animals have been fed, watered and put away behind bars.

For the moment this path is the escape route out of the house for the once-a-day-act-of-exercise with no encounters with neighbours, or worse, strangers.
Where did these masked people come from?
Possibly a long haul fever flight to recover their senses close to where they imagine someone else’s handiwork might help them find their own.

Coronavirus
by Jean Frances Parrott

A strange and unseen ghost
Has us in its grasp
Slow…Indidious..creeping round.
Hard to track,cannot be found….

Started slowly….Slyly….far away..
In Cathay…
Not the first to come from there….
Far too soon, spread everywhere….
Then appeared in Italy..
Now it’s rampaging free…
A World Pandemic….
Anyone..
Can get it……

We are all trapped,
Rich and poor,old and young….
Life on hold,the clock has stopped.
Each day ,death toll
Such sad cost….

How to protect those we love…
Cherish our young,shield from the worst…
Not part of our life plan,this Curse….
Stalking the land,spreading contagion….
Nation,by Nation……

We aged,have been here here before..
Some of us lived,survived a war…
This though,. is an unseen enemy…
Invading,Infecting in home territory….
We will win through….we always do.

Outside its spring,sun shines,birds sing…
We are just a small part
Specks on our planets face..
Whirling,turning,revolving in space
We strange evolution…the Human race….
We will continue….life will go on…
Win through again…..stand brave in the sun…..

Coronavirus …lock down…
by Jean Frances Parrott

Early this morning,day dawning.
Moon shadow,blue sky.
Sun streaked,pink golden hue…
So beautiful…..
Breathtaking view……
Heart breaking too….
Such beauty all round…
Natures rejoicing,bird sounds….
While we
Listen to the daily death toll…
On TV.
That roll call,of lives lost…
Coronavirus
Fearful cost…….

It will pass,not last….
Try if you can ,to hang in there…
Do not despair…
Keep your eyes to the sky…..
Live well my loves
Enjoy each day….our time is short
Dreams fade away….
Love lives in many little things
A butterfly,a wedding ring,
In the sun which touched your cheek
With the wind stirring your hair…
True love lives…..Do not despair…..

Wondering
by Ian Rabjohns

Sitting on my garden bench in isolation….

Wondering

If all the little things that live here
were to go.
Who would care, who would know
that they were gone.
I would care and I would know that
something here was wrong.
Those few that dig and delve and try
to understand that world of little things have, built into their bones, the cycle of the year and what it shows.They have found the tapestry; all sewn together, each one dependent on the other now.
I see them all around my feet and busy in the flowers, and wonder what was here before; when it really was their world.
Not ours.

Blues for Alan
by Jane Hemmings

Well, I’ve got the Lockdown Blues man – round and round in my head, Yeah, I’ve got the Lockdown Blues babe – round and round my bed, Wanna see my friends and family – but I gotta stay alone instead.

You know those Coronavirus blues, well they’re playing on my mind, Yeah those Coronavirus blues, well they’re playing with my mind, Wanna reach out and touch you – but I know that wouldn’t be kind.

We’re all doing our best here – trying with all our might, We’re doing our best – yeah, we’re trying with all our might, To look after each other and check that everyone’s all right.

We might feel like frowning we might feel like the world’s all bad, Yeah, we might feel like sighing and think the world’s gone mad, Being kind and gentle to each other will stop us all getting too sad.

Gotta take good care to let our loved ones know how we feel, We’ve got to take good care to let our loved ones know how we feel, Cause staying away will prove our love is really real.

We got to keep on being patient till that virus is on the run, Yeah, we got to keep on being patient till that virus is on the run, When it’s over the horizon – then we’ll really have some fun!

(Alan is 94, a life long player of piano blues. Being well looked after in the care home, but missing visits from his wife and friends. His dementia makes it harder for him to understand. He asked me to write him a blues….)

Goose Jazz
by Philip Foster

When spartan dorys from down South
spatchcock our tartan-fielded valley,
when they’ve done us in good and gone,
will our paths be smooth with velvet moss, will distressed ochre eat red wheelbarrows; will tapped engines leak pearls of black and broken stepladders lean against themselves like hemlock philosophers.

And will we grow with the patience of plants in the gaze of tinned-up factories.
Will we placate our vagrant cocks
with painted mirrors dangled from string and carve again to make arrows, to cover the kayak with animal skin – is this when we will remember the art of swimming, when we reinvent the words for things.

Will these be the neat rows of kindling
at the end of everything; will this be
the rusted locker or deadman’s chest
of our legacy, the black fingernails,
the stale patchouli, the worn green
and handrolled of our prospectus; and will our music be the two-note goose jazz, the two-note goose trombone of the future?

Lets
by Lorraine Wood

Let’s
…fly amongst the bird song
breathe the uncontested air
of spring,inhale the night-scented
stock,a memory from childhood
when the stars were our good night
kiss,pages turned over through the storm.
Let’s fly above the white cliffs find
our names at the waters edge,catch each letter and fill our pockets before the tide returns.
Let’s fly into that starry night now we can all see,while nature rearranges the landscape an abundance of new life swims free.

They locked up Grandma
by Becca Johnson

Someone’s locked up Grandma,
She’s not been seen since tea,
I think his name was Colin,
I’m sure it began with C,

Someone’s locked up Grandma,
I’ve seen her at the pane,
It’s been two weeks and counting,
Do you think she’s gone insane?

Someone’s locked up Grandma,
Thank god she likes to read,
As we haven’t heard a single word
Of when she will be freed,

Someone’s locked up Grandma,
They got my parents too,
We think they might charge entry,
To our corona zoo.

lockdown
by Roger West

stocked up stacked up locked up in lockdown
cocked up fucked up puckered up and put down shacked up hacked off handcuffed hand me down loved up gloved up puffed out and sat down

slow down hoedown show up to the showdown zonked out funked up bunkered up and hunkered down cranked up motown good god y’all get down stuffed up zippered up slippered up eiderdown

shop shut snapshot belt up and buckle down ramped up damped down working for the clampdown phased in phased out maxed out in melt down back down crackdown get down stay down

Lockdown Buzzcut
JLM Morton

This is the time of kind-hearted dispensations
when kids hold scissors two-handed, garden shearing a father’s hair – open mouthed in concentration, squealing at the mists of water spray.
When time comes round for the game to end and mother takes the clippers, it’s been weeks since they’ve touched.
Her fingers furrow the pattern of his follicles and he’s a mole, flinching through old locks.
She thinks she wants to press the whorl on his hairline where a cowlick used to be until they connect – or he disappears.
Entrusted with flakes from his scalp, the molluscs washed up on the wold of his skull, she thinks she wants to stoop and taste the earth on his neck.
She trims around the ears, grades the edges and his shoulders slacken.
Both of them gulls at the plough,
their flight an act of faith.

Plague Diaries
by Sarah Davies

These are the same plague diaries
that we have always written –
your great grandfather, his father before him, their wives in the embroidery of linen and the blood pin-pricked in error,

on parchment and on vellum,
the binding of our body and the politics of being. Candlelight is darkness, electric is the darkness,

how we have the dark times,
each to our own blindness,
and each age changes witness, ours
to a confinement and the dangers

of our touch, when this is what is needed through the testament of screens and the ghosts, familiar voices – the proof here on the skin that solitude’s contagious

Jewels of evidence at witch trials
where we offer up our brothers
and our sisters to the gathering of public name and shaming , all rituals and pastimes

And your last wife at the stake,
flowers round the may tree, cherry blossomm are wasteground dandelions, are people lost and wondering at their own small, greening gardens Shall I mention an Arcadia?

These are plague diaries, the same as always written in the dark come after first sleep – Dear Husband light the candle, the ink upon my fingers, like the blood of some old sea God

because this is an island
which no man is, nor woman
but I wonder as I tap, if the sea will reach my window like the floods of winter

my darling has forgotten?
This is why I write, and who I write for – my children and the fish, the bloggers, widows, and the archivists

Lockdown
by Sarah Davies

Some people are bad
at keeping distance- they stick
to the world like glue-

world sticks to them too.
They look into dark mirrors
or at shimmer screens

for information
and signs of when it ends,
this separation

Waiting to buy fish
by Charlotte Pearl

Of all days it was good Friday
And we stood there in a line,
Holding our breath.
Heart in mouth. Two metres apart.
Heart in mouth. Weighing up our options, Readying our order, Just waiting to buy fish.

And the sun spilt out
On everybody waiting.
Weighing up their options.
Wishing it was over now.
Wanting to be home again,
Recoiling from passers by,
Just waiting to buy fish.

And everyone was silent.
Silently worrying.
Thoughts like thunder. Two metres apart.
Everybody waiting.
Wanting it over now,
Everybody waiting,
Some just waiting to buy fish.

keep calm
by Jonathan Mayman

out in my garden
I can hear the traffic
from the motorway

if I close my eyes
I could be driving
down to your place

I’m trapped for now
here in my garden
you in yours

we can see each other
on our phones
speaking words of love

keep well keep strong
it may not be long
the miles will melt away

Statistics Can Never Lie
by Alun Robert

Statistics can never lie …
but those who mine data can
and those who analyse the facts
and the experts in R0 extrapolation
and those who proffer interpretation
and those who present these results
and those who invent explanation
and those who try to camouflage
the truth behind the facts; can.

How does this affect all those
who take action on such statistics
knowing that they are not the same
as the true facts they appear to portray?
For they blame those wet behind the ears
when their flawed actions cause abject chaos
of wrong turnings and dubious decisions
and then claim in their defence that
… statistics can never lie.

Repatriation flight from Peru
by Tim Toghill

Repatriation Flight

Dusty military airbase buildings, eyeless windows Bright sun gives way to gazebo shade Busy clipboarded FCO officials Gleaming flag carrier plane

Lines of aircraft tarmac bound
Hot intense midday equatorial heat
Stamp on passports, tagging of bags
Helpful uniform clad men bustle

Eager tired passengers form orderly queues Exotic airbase location hidden from city eyes

Memories of extraordinary times, of gracious people, of Peruvian sun

29/30 March 2020, 12 hours, 6,000 miles.
And the BA crew all volunteered. Incredible.

Reemergence
by Usha Akella

We retreat and reemerge from our rooms
like waves meeting by the shore of the window, this dance of three happens daily now like three needles crocheting a new pattern of reality.
Simple human actions, eating together, cooking, washing dishes, a new alphabet in an unhurried world of harmony, kinship and family—we are reconfigured in a lucent house breathing a cornucopia of light, limpid walls and tiles seem fluid like water rippling a chiaroscuro, outside, that—the red streak of a cardinal’s winged surge, that—the squirrels serrated scampering on trunks, that—the unhurried drift of a dandelion.

Spring too is upon us—this too is reality— the sun’s golden bombarding drenching suffusing, this beauty is undeniable—a world savaged by light, saved by light, singing with light, rains baptize the streets asking us to rise anew, the streets are rivers cupping reflections of the oaks and cedars, blue bonnets and Indian paintbrush splatter the streets, scarlet berries bud like miniature poppies on the dark green reminiscent of a red whirring virus leaving shadows of painful stories, this war unfolds as wars have always ravaged the earth, some mine woe for profit, some simply try to keep bone and skin together, the human mind is rarely pellucid, we understand what we can and mostly move on in acceptance.

A locked down seagull
Uday Shankar Durjay

I used to see the reflection of sunlight dancing on your lips, sparking and glittering like pearls on the golden grass. Now a deadly frustration circumambient me.

An invisible animal is out to vanish all the lights. We are getting disappeared in the dark day by day. Can we remember 1820,1920? and now 2020. Is it nature, taking a piece? We may mention it’s a revenge of nature. We never expect this incompatibility to our life ever but this literal to our life. This is also truth we didn’t care about our world. We are using a huge plastic bottle and container and through to the sea water. We are clearing the natural state an acre and acre. We are killing animals for a million purposes.

Now a day everything has stopped. The nature is getting so green though. Animals are in open yard like a free verse poetry. A huge fresh oxygen around us like kites are flying in the sky, soft breezes are blowing over the building like seagulls are set free to roam.

Don’t move inside out.
Delivery vans are dropping the goods, Uber eats delivering the client’s order. But we are completely locked in the wall. We can’t enjoy the time, we have been just waiting for new day. We have been waiting for the new light.

Day by Day
by Peter Moorhouse

It seems a long time ago
Since I was immortal.
Now, in old age, I am a threat
And threatened
At one and the same time.
I smile and comment to strangers
As we weave our invisible paths.
But I am just a pupating statistic
In the daily list of numbers
Read out by frightened,
Power-drained, blank faces,
Clinging to slogans.

Crowd
by James Pertwee

Last night I dreamt that I was in a crowd.
Jostling and pushing, elbow to elbow,
We surged forward, making for the gates
Pressed tightly together, with good-humoured banter.
Once through, we poured into the vast stadium,
Filling it, shouting and cheering and chanting
“Up the reds!”, “come on the blues!”,
“You’ll never walk alone!”
Marching onward and tightly packed, with our placards,
We snaked through the streets, a different chant:
“Whaddawe want?! When do we wannit?! Now!!”
There must have been thousands of us
Bound together in the camaraderie of a common cause.
Out into the countryside we went
Among the tents and the portaloos
Raising our arms high, some with our girlfriends on our shoulders
As the rock anthem blasted out,
A vast sea of bodies throbbing and pulsing, as one, to the beat.
And in the crisp clear air, wrapped up against the cold,
We started the countdown – ten, nine, eight, seven, six…
Until the bongs rang in the new year.
A huge roar went up! We threw our arms around each other,
Kissed, shook hands with strangers!
As the echoing cheers and laughter faded away
I came to, woke up,
Alone again.

Change
by James Pertwee

Everything has changed.
Contained, constrained, confined, locked down, An Englishman’s home is his castle… …or his prison.

And nothing has changed.
The sun comes up and the sun goes down.
The birds are singing, summer is coming.
All is as it should be.

But everything has changed.
A trip to the shops a risk-filled mission.
Every foray into the outside world
A game of chance with high stakes.

And yet nothing has changed.
Humanity is as it ever was.
Shared hopes and fears conveyed in another’s smile Without a word being uttered.
Two strangers complicit.

But no, everything has changed.
The whole world is in turmoil.
Presidents, kings, labourers and dispossessed, The richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor, All are in fear.

And still, nothing has changed.
The rich manage much better than the poor.
Most governments try their best.
Some make good decisions.
Some make disastrous ones.
Just as always.

So what has changed?
The whole world is in danger as never before.
The whole world is fearful as never before.
Many are panicking just as ever.
Many are selfish just as ever.
Many are idiots just as ever.
And most are kind, just as ever.

And when we come through this
What will we have learnt?

Everything and nothing will have changed.

The Corona Raven
by Henry Herschel

I’m sitting here pondering away my hours
Thinking about this world of ours
Wishing I didn’t think that I had to rhyme I should take some time To learn a different way of doing things I wish the world would think Something similar not hollow rings For the normal not right gone before Like the Raven, Nevermore!

Sword
by Benjamin Skomorac

I spend days, nights,
without being diagnosed with this madness.
I am floating on the ceilings
dressed in a heavy blanket
who bends me in the morning,
shows what I’m getting ready for.
I cut my knee with my sword
like two hills,
stranded on the shore of my limbs.
I live without them equally, lifeless.
That will be tomorrow,
I’ll calm down,
take off the burden of immortality.

Commissioned by Ledbury Poetry Festival

Live Life
by Jane Moorhouse

Everyday
There are
Chances to die
There have
Always been
Chances to die
Everyday
Perhaps the risk is greater now
But it is still small

So instead of fearing
Our chance to die
Let us embrace
And celebrate
That we have been given
The chance to live
For at least another day

The chance to
Sing and
Dance and
Smile and
Make connections
And put our stamp upon this earth
More firmly than we did before

The chance to
Hear the birds sing
Watch the plants grow
Smell the blossom
Breathe in the less polluted air
Walk in the deserted streets

Death will come regardless of our fear
But life will only happen if we let it.

Clap for the carers
by David Bleiman

and here in bungalow belt
where neighbours hardly ever come within two metres we went out in our ones and twos thinking to clap the lonely sky until we heard the thunder of solitude rolling up the wide road and shared the lamplit smiles of solidarity

Let’s call it a day
by Mark Saunders

I can’t believe it’s Friday, and the same
goes for Thursday and the day before that
which was …. what’s its name.

Let’s call each day Day.

Today’s Day the spring weather holds
so out of isolation I step feeling bold.
My neighbour outside his door stares
as if we haven’t seen each other before.
I wave across the hedge and call out Good day!
I do believe it is what used to be called
a Friday.

Ha, those were the days!
he replies with a smile and tips his hat,
as we go our separate ways.

Anaesthetic
by Kathryn O’Driscoll

Today I am slack jawed
with my brain stung with lidocaine.
Nerve endings spasming,
ticks without feeling,
someone has numbed me city-wide.

Today my eyes are empty shop windows
displaying all of their best solutions
to insurmountable problems
on tiny invisible display tables of nothing.
Someone has anaesthetised my brain.

Today I am on lockdown.
No contact, silent park lands
wet with Spring wilting without notice.
My mind is echoing white noise and riot gear and I can’t taste my teeth anymore.

I am a quarantined country
noose-quiet and cyanide-sickly,
bleeding out of brickwork I no longer feel – and finding fog-filled alleyways and cobblestoned depressive episodes feel familiar even in this half-lit death.

Corona Cough
by Adam Munthe

Yesterday, today,
rioting spring dusk and swallows high,
grasshoppers still scratching in the thickets, the cypresses are robed, bending like friends with a tiny breeze for conversation

A road to the goatherd’s for cheese and yogurt, the car pottering, we smile, pull into the long grass, subside to let them pass

The driver paused beside me
our windows open,
a baby face, nascent moustache,
three friends to laugh at him

A kind of funnelled breathlessness,
he sized me precisely,
twisted his mouth into a kiss,
and spat

We jumped, stopped, paralysed
he backed up, our faces close enough to cough I made to rise, “We gave you the road to ride”
“Fuck you,” he whispered, and then drove off

Actual despair?
A bate?
A game of dare?
It felt like hatred

The car ditched,
still pottering
louder than the grasshoppers.
We furious to know.

Stretch (You Are All Right)
by Richard Skinner

You are a pilot through the days’ yawn,
the rod of iron down your back
aching in the sunshine.
The streets outside empty of people,
of crime, horseplay, pit bulls.
The numbers and letters on the tops
of buses speak to the sky.
It’s the only talk you’ll hear.
We clap every week.
Downstairs, the drilling carries on—
they must have got through by now.
The cherry tree in the courtyard sways
every morning, swishing to itself.
It yearns to reach the sun.
We have all turned into sunflowers.
Dogs look up, cats sleep. Cars
furtively turn corners, roar out of sight.
The church steeple looks worried.
It is pink in the rising sun, facing it, telling it to make sure to return tomorrow.

Commissioned by Ledbury Poetry Festival

Death Obtains
by Mara Adamitz Scrupe

Death Obtains

as seeds’ spawn barren of two decades’
sparing

Death obtains as rosemary clenched in sucking scale/ veins’
closed system

Death obtains as dried bugs & mouse ribs/ an abandoned breast pump in a shoe box

Death obtains as choke knots/ writhing/ noosing/ periwinkle’s grip on my garden beds

Death obtains as emerald borer in leafless ash/ spiny in April’s flush & mantling

Death obtains as fossil mosaic/ contagion/ a stone road shivering beneath the world

On Mute
by Barry Taylor

Among the twenty-seven
new native species
of silence:

the stifled explosive
roars stockpiled
in the stadium;
the stunned interval
marking the distance
from one safe house
to its neighbours;
the mosaics
of voiceless selfies
on the evening news;
the hush of rush-hour;
the vacated stage
where the blackbird
improvises morning.

Under the startling
new-green trees,
the silent tremoring
of walls and worlds
at a passing breath.

Down our street
by Matt Black

Roshan and Aisha make lots of cups of tea, stick to new daily routines created to maintain cheer. They stare out of the window. They want chocolate bars which they are too scared to go and buy.

Josh, who never had the courage to leave the computer job he hates, and has always longed for an alternative lifestyle, has dug up his small back garden and plants spinach and garlic to bolster his immune system.

Wojcek is desperate to get back to Poland, to see his family, but is worried that if he gets there he will never be allowed to return. He drinks 4 cans of strong lager, starting at 6, every evening.

Liz weaves bright new futures in her mind, of a world that has learnt its’ lessons, and looks forward to the autumn. She sews scrub bags for the NHS, plans to make recycled masks, knit rainbows.

Jade can’t get her usual supply of methodone, but has found some cheap spice. She likes the sunshine. Although she is hungry, she’s got the gang, and her lockdown is flying by.

Stephen, aged 75, cupboards overflowing with cheese, ready meals and whisky, thinks it is Xmas. He Facetimes his son every evening at half past six. Eats and drinks like there is no tomorrow.

Lorraine spends 10 hours a day on Facebook campaigning for the cure of Covid19 by a combination of turmeric teas and yogic breathing.

Rob develops business plans for using the last reserves from his bankrupt cafe business, and some thin Government support, for a start-up in developing video games – his teenage passion. He is in discussions with his landlord about unpaid rent.

Chris and Kerri lie in bed every morning, rowing over how much screen time Ben and Gemma, aged 8 and 6, should have every day. Ben and Gemma are downstairs creating alternative worlds in Minecraft.

Alexandra texts Gilly that a G and T at 5 tonight in the back garden, with 6 feet between them, will be completely fine, surely darling.

John is alone in his flat, sweating in bed, waiting for his twice-weekly call from an NHS volunteer telephone befriender.

Louisa bleaches the front letter box, the front door bell, the wing mirrors of her Citroen Picasso, every morning at 7am.

Rashida has spent 2 days weeping for her Mum, who died aged 52, for lack of PPE. She is also a nurse, goes back to work tomorrow.

Mike eats Monster Munch and reads online conspiracy theories and analysis that show that Covid19 is a statistical myth created by capitalists to increase global control over consumer populations.

Melanie, asthmatic, wakes up thinking she has Covid every morning. She spends her days on Facebook looking for posts that will offer her lifelines for her more precarious than ever mental health.

Jane is on 80% furlough, and now she can no longer go to restaurants or on holiday, is better off than when she was working. She reads, rings friends, listens to Guardian recommended Spotify lists. She loves lockdown, but knows it is not right to say it.

Ashley clings to the wreckage of S.S. Hope, stares across the grey, choppy sea.

Unwittingly, and despite best efforts, the small corner shop spreads Covid19.

The pub is closed.

The pigeons coo-coo, coo-coo.

Callum, aged 4, draws pictures of giants every day. He loves his Mum and Dad at home together for this spring that seems to last forever.

[Untitled]
by Sandi Sterck

March ends . Fallen leaves dance on the lawn, fly up on the wind into the air like birds. They do not sing.

April begins with all it’s promises. Animals and birds copulate in anticipation.

Should mankind do the same?. or submit to the dark clouds ominous warning.

Let’s hide from the light and sunshine, furrow deeper into ourselves. Or instead, look up to the stars, embrace the light, and look forward to tomorrows dawn.

March 2020
by Frances Meadows

If I die of Coronavirus
Don’t make me just another number
Just another statistic
Remember I was alive and well
Remember I lived a life
Remember my children, my loves,
My learning, my style,
Remember the things I wrote,
The things I did, the people I helped
The students I taught
Remember the meals I cooked
The presents I gave
The times I hugged you.
Remember how I
Kept the law, braved the worries
Listened and supported.
Remember the veg I grew
The bulbs I planted, the birds I fed
Remember how I picked up litter
Recycled plastic and paper
Remember how I walked the paths
Loved nature, cared for you
Remember Aunt Flo’s chocolate cake!
It’s not about the death you’ve had
It’s about the life you’ve lived

Habitual Sea
by Claire Clint

Drowning in your habitual sea,
Dragged by surging waves that push and pull me,
To the depths of intrigue and shallow safe shore,
Sands strewn with shells the limpets once wore.

A foot strongly grounded, gripping rocks, scarred for life,
Soft inside hard shell, programmed to survive,
Tides turning gently, daren’t loosen the latch,
As waves of hungry fish come to take their catch.

Children bring buckets, scoop up empty shells,
Sparking joy in those they cling to, ringing familiar bells,
Filled once more with sunshine, dry away salty tears,
Purpose reimagined, new habits drenched in ancient fears.


7pm Shout Out

by Paula C. Brancato

At sunset, we headed toward the East River,
a tidal basin, cool fingers of sea slipping slowly in and out.
We walked the empty streets and sidewalks,
the dog’s nails tick tick ticking,

traffic and church bells silent,
pavement licked clean by rains,
past Mandicati’s, Bellwether, Centro’s, Chairman Sun, Bella Via,
shuttered against the coming wave.

Sniffing empty tarmac,
hunting mice, rats and food scraps and finding nothing,
Myrtle bit into the black of a garbage bag and pulled out a bone,
Kentucky Fried and battered, half eaten.

Any other day, I would have pressed my fingers
under her snout into the soft fleshy fur of her jaw.
and forced her to release it.
Bones wound the stomach, hurt the heart.

No one on the streets,
No one on the walkways,
Nothing but the sound of Myrtle crunching on that bone.
Will she survive it?

My mother, I mean. And so many others. Though the virus is abating, now.
From buildings blocks away, separated
by clouds and nothingness, people we could not see
whooped and hollered and clapped.

Noisemakers chirped like crickets. Horns bleeped.
No way to imagine who the revelers might be.
A last shot of amber closed the sun’s eye.
Through the pink and purple dusk, a lone bus honked and hollered.

Another Fine Day?
by Adele Cordner

Should sun still shine on this beleaguered land, make blossom pink and white on cherry trees, light curls of lambs, scent daisies to draw bees, let gentle waves lap swathes of untouched sands?

Should wind not rage as humans battle on?
Should litter not be whipped through empty streets and rain not gush from gutters while we weep for all sick souls whose lives are not so long?

But sun has kept us calm through all the pain, made us look up while storms might rage within.
So nature steadfastly has played her part.
She spares us from the deluge of spring rain that we might step outdoors and there begin to find a pathway to a lighter heart.

The Viral War 
by Christy Galligan

Your Poem With creased brows they never tried
Giving solace where there was death,
Tired beyond exhaustion while all
Around the noise of gasping breaths.

Isolated boxes of bodies
Wrapped in double shrouds,
No mourning by loved ones or families
But placed in sacred grounds.

Where is the humanity in dying
Where sickness claims so many lives,
While eyes stare forlornly
Behind shield and formaldehyde.

No longer our heros fall in trenches
Not by bomb, bullet but by tentacles,
Death envelops us all
No word will undo this spectacle.

Spare a though for those who’ve succumbed And those who will, we realise, For mother nature has endured Our destruction of that which was pure.

Corona
by John Nightingale

The virus is a crown of thorns. It brings
a lockdown Sabbath to the earth.
Life will never be the same again – or will it?
Take deep breaths and feel
the pain and love, become aware
of changes in the air
we breathe. See the people walk
through fire and flood, on a long road,
past field and slum. Imagine that they come
to Birmingham,
where guns and chains gave way
to bicycles and cars, where jewelries
became munition factories,
and back again.
Now may the chain
of motorways no longer choke,
the smoke
replaced by cleaner air.
Cast out despair, prepare to be
a city of sanctuary
for every heritage,
for refugees from poverty
and rage.
But can it be
we surf each obstacle?
‘Twould be a miracle.
However, there is one miracle already,
that we are here at all;
then, though we’re small,
together, when we share
our bunch of sacred stories,
challenge despair,
our faith the more is.
And, while we live,
our actions stretch into the future, give
the lie to those who only think of death.
So may we, with every breath
inhale the oxygen of love
and breathe it over others, a new story,
we hope a crown of glory.

NOTE: This meditation was read at the end of a gathering for Earth Day organised by “Footsteps: Faiths for a Low Carbon Future”. The proceedings were conducted online through zoom because of the corona virus lockdown. The name corona (latin for “crown”) is given to this group of viruses because of their crown-like shape. The poem mentions two crowns of Jesus referred to in an Easter hymn, a crown of thorns and a crown of glory. There are also allusions to some of the presentations, eg the Jai Jagat March for Peace and Justice.

Springtime on Bredon
by Chris Noel

It’s springtime on Bredon
The bells are quiet this year
Round all the shires they’re silent
In steeples far and near
A disquieting quiet to hear

Here on a Maytime morning
Stand about and sigh
There’s still a green and coloured land
The larks still sing on high
About us in the sky.

Don‘t come to church good people
They‘re shut and barred and chimeless
Good steeples, stand and pray
We stand about all aimless
The coloured land stands timeless