Two Poems

By Fokkina McDonnell

Diary Notes

The month of May, always
the month of the dead
and now, with the thing
we won’t mention.


Good Friday. Zoom
A dozen of us with his haiku,
various photos, our own words.
And the thing we won’t mention
is what he died of.


March when I packed
a medium-sized suitcase.
And if you could only take four
poetry books to see you through
six months –


The first August he charged £5.
The next August nothing because of VAT;
I put £5 in their chosen charity box.
The following August he smiled No charge.
I just paid him hundreds for a new will.
Another August, his smile had gone.

So, when I moved to Withington
I found another solicitor, an
upstairs office next to M&S Foods.

August 2020 has come and gone.
The SVB website says us old Dutch
people living outside the Netherlands
need not go outside to get signed
evidence. We’ll still get our pension.
They’ll assume we’re still alive.

Fokkina McDonnell has two poetry collections (Another life, Oversteps Books Ltd, 2016; Nothing serious, nothing dangerous, Indigo Dreams Publishing Ltd, 2019) and a pamphlet A Stolen Hour (Grey Hen Press, 2020). Poems have been widely published and anthologized. She received a Northern Writers’ Award from New Writing North in 2020. @FokkinaM

Diary Notes was written in May, reflecting on my rushed departure from Manchester mid-March and the death of a poet friend.  I found it difficult dealing with a family member and some friends who seemed stuck in denial mode at the time. Hence “the thing we won’t mention”. Also I wanted to record the details of my first Zoom meeting.

“August” – I wanted to record this small annual bureaucratic requirement and how that too has been affected by Covid. I have written another poem about the Good Friday Zoom meeting. I read this recently at Poetry in Aldeburgh (Between Places: Britain and Europe) as I wanted to honour my friend. The poem “August” describes the annual event of getting formal evidence of life. With quarantine and national lockdown in the UK, I am not able to get this.

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