Two Poems

By Jenny Hockey

Balance Sheet

First there’s the travelling ache
in my jaw and ear and further afield,
my shoulder and upper back,
that surely derives from fear
of a world in need of a host
that knows me as prey,

spraying the shopping
brought to my door, reading The Times
on (sanitized) line or stepping aside
on paths through the park, never
accepting a stranger’s cup —

but also the blessed release
from one more farmers’ market,
from meeting again in Costa for tea

and in these months when nobody comes,
I run my tight and tidy home, spying out
dust and throwing out stuff for a song,
spidery loungers and racks for a car long gone

and so I discover a lover’s touch,
wielding mop and cloth, an instant of bliss
when putting a cup or coat away,
dampening a tissue I find up my sleeve
with spit, erasing ancient stains.

‘The perfect way to start your day’

Not more Classic FM, per-lease.
It can’t be all we have to survive.
And turn off the news, no keep the news
but turn off Today, the ministers
saying ‘Look’, then bluster
and lies. Shall we try Radio 3
again? Maybe now at ten past ten
they’re playing a piece we can whistle to,
a song that isn’t baroque or Bach.

Or one of your old CDS?
I know we moved them next door.
But bring Dylan back with the Wilburys,
bring Rod Unplugged and we’ll walk across
that burning bridge, be in the largest
state in the union — not here in this same
back room, turning deaf ears to the ads,
to being told to relax. Just listening for birds
who’ve given up. Stick Tina on loud,

then Abba, then Meatloaf, Madonna —
we’ll dance round the table instead.
Let every dishcloth fly.

Jenny Hockey is an anthropologist who retired from Sheffield University to write more poetry.  After a New Poets Award from New Writing North, her collection, ‘Going to bed with the moon’, appeared in 2019 (  

From here in Sheffield I wrote ‘Balance Sheet’ during the first lockdown when I was under the weather for months without any diagnosis – and discovered that cleaning can be a pleasure. My husband has emphysema so we’ve mostly stayed home ever since – and my poem ‘The perfect way to start your day’ stems from a surfeit of Classic FM!

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