In the last few weeks, most lockdown measures have been lifted across the United Kingdom. The re-opening of pubs in England on 4th of July represented for many the cutting of the ribbon on society, despite the prevailing threat of Covid-19 infections. This uneasy step back into normality has understandably led to a growing unease among many people, particularly the most vulnerable.
Big changes come with a lot of mixed feelings, and just as the original global lockdown saw many feeling fearful, the opening up of our society has been met with a great deal of suspicion and caution.
We’ve been in touch with several writers to provide us with their take on the lifting of lockdown via their preferred medium of poetry.
Jenny Shepherd runs the local branch of The Poetry Society in East London, which she set up in early 2008, when she rejoined, after a 20-year hiatus in writing poetry. She began writing this haiku while standing in a socially distanced queue for the supermarket.
On the pavement outside Tesco’s,
the black and yellow stripes
of sticky tape,
spaced at six foot intervals,
are scuffed and tattered now,
eroded by trampling feet.
Nothing has changed,
except there are fewer feet.
From Behind the Glass
By Carolyn Jones
Carolyn was inspired to write this poem after seeing the experience of her grandmother, aged 88, who has been in lockdown since mid-March. “I feel that not enough of the voices of the elderly and sick are being listened to, I felt I should write something on her behalf.”
Lockdown has lifted, but for me,
It’s still the same, read on, you’ll see…
From behind the curtains, I observe the world,
Leaves dance as the wind blows
I do not feel the gust on my face.
Kids run and cheer and jeer on the streets.
I do not hear them.
Waves continue to crash in the sea I see before me,
I can almost taste the salt that dances in the air.
Birds continue to hover above, blind to the dangers or society.
Drivers pass by in their cars, oblivious to my longing.
Flowers continue to grow in the garden
Regardless of my green fingers.
Seconds move, hours pass, days turn,
A breath of fresh air is all I yearn.
Is this it now, is this my all?
Before that final curtain call.
COVID19 Release Date
by Roz Ottery
Roz has been writing poetry since she was a child. Her most recent project has been to be involved in the ‘The Book Of Hope’, a poetry collaboration which has been sponsored by local business with all proceeds going to the NHS.
Sealing their death warrant as far as t’will reach
And no sense gets through; though we plead and beseech.
It seems there are thousands that no one can teach…
so at the first sight of sun they flock down to the beach.
Corona is biding its time in the sand
Its waiting to jump on the outstretched, blind hand;
and the laughter is hollow and the pleasure is bland…
when death stalks your loved ones in a tightening band.
WORSE, are the Great and Good who’ve lied in our ear…
and they now have EXCUSES to point and to jeer!
For they wanted us tanked up on sun cream and beer!
So they could say “NO WAY are we to blame here!”.
The Corona Excuse Me
by Mark ‘Mr T’ Thompson
Anglo Jamaican poet, performer and educator from south London Mark ‘Mr T’ Thompson has been playing with words for decades. After self-publishing a debut collection of poetry, Mixed Messages, in 2009, Mark ‘Mr T’ Thompson has delivered performances and workshops of words ever since.
This is the Corona excuse me,
The dance of the polite.
Where you weave to your left
While I dive to my right.
Eyes meet in a panic
As we try to second guess,
Which path will allow us
On our journey to progress.
Perhaps, if one can pause
The other can pass by
Before we run out of space
At least one of us must try.
But when one does decide to stop
The other does the same,
If we were to collide
Who would be to blame?
Impact looks unavoidable
We’re already too near
We’re clearly not breathing
Two bodies wracked with fear
By that which might pass between us
By that which we might catch
Our ballet’s choreographer
A viral load that might attach
Microscopic barbs to our very being
Then work its way inside
We wish we could have stayed at home
But how long can we hide?
There’s children that need feeding
And jobs that must be done
Fields and gardens that need seeding
Or hunger has already won.
So strangers move at distance
There are our loved ones we must not touch
Even though the anguish of separation
Can sometimes seem too much
And we’ll dance the corona excuse me
Because we are polite
Until finally I slip to your left
As you swerve to your right.
When We Are Us Again
by Jenny Foulds
Jenny Foulds wrote this poem “for my party ones. Excited for the first time we can all be together properly again.”
by Bob Cassidy
Due to Covid-19 and other underlying health problems, Bob Cassidy has been self-isolating since February 2020.
When I closed the door
To lock myself in.
March parks sang with the first birds and the
last children of spring.
Dan Cody is Editor-in-Chief at No Majesty.