Three Poems

By Mark Cassidy

OUTSIDE WITHIN

In sanctuary of an unlatched porch
I’ve laid my cycle down.
The door is thick-strong oak:
long hinges brace nail-studded beams,
an iron ring for handle.
I test the turn of it.
But, bolted against contagion,
there’s no communion to be had;
the dancing pools of stained glass light
unreachable within.

Back home yet looking out,
we step around ourselves, measure
the degrees of separation –
two-metre arms outstretched.
Blessed are those with wings:
a far-wandering Brimstone settles,
briefly matches the budding leaves.
First of the year, it knows
the secret of distance:
that it’s how we become grown-up.

Keeping the ‘R’ down

(with humble apologies to Gil Scott-Heron, God rest his soul)

You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on Netflix or
bunk off to the fridge for beer during ad breaks,
because the virus alert will not be televised.

The virus alert will not be televised.
The virus alert will not be brought to you by iPlayer
in 4 parts without commercial interruptions.
The virus alert will not show you pictures of BoJo
changing a nappy or leading a charge by Matt
Handcock, Dominic Cummings and Nigel Farage to quaff
champagne confiscated from French fishermen.

The virus alert will not be televised.
The virus alert will not be brought to you from
the Royal Albert Hall and will not star Dame
Vera Lynn or Laurence Fox and Julia Hartley-Brewer.
The virus alert will not give you ever-increasing data.
The virus alert will not get rid of the virus.
The virus alert will not make you look five pounds
thinner, because the virus alert will not be televised, Brother.

There will be no pictures of you and Katie Hopkins
pushing that shopping trolley round the block in the Tesco queue,
or watching them slide your mate into a disinfected ambulance.
BBC will not be able predict the death toll at 8:32
or report from 4 separate nations.
The virus alert will not be televised.

There will be no highlights on the ten o’clock
news and no stateside pictures of tattooed
survivalists or Keir Starmer blowing his nose.
The theme song will not be written by Lloyd-Webber,
or Gary Barlow, nor sung by Phil Collins,
Tom Jones, Cliff Richard, Liam Gallagher, or Little Mix.
The virus alert will not be televised.

The virus alert will not be right back
after a message about tomorrow’s weather or following the science.
You will not have to worry about a second spike in your
retirement plan, masking your face, or the paper in your toilet bowl.
The virus alert will not go better in a care home.
The virus alert will not fight the germs that may cause bad death.
The virus alert will put you in the danger zone.

The virus alert will not be televised, will not be televised,
will not be televised, will not be televised.
The virus alert will be no re-run brothers and sisters;
The virus alert will be live.

TRACK AND TRACE

Footfall
echoes down our unlit alley,
like a signal followed.
Uploading from your pocket,
an unheard blip,
blip, bleeping of barcode.

Contact:
an unknown voice recites
their script. Quarantine.
You will be notified
if your status changes.
A swab may be required.

Unseen,
the scrunching of gravel.
Your partial field of view:
a white van retreats
from the corner of one eye,
its exhaust spluttering.

Alert,
controlled, but double-blind
to false result – not yours –
take the test next door.
Tap on your neighbour’s window,
bookmark their location.

Mark Cassidy is a retired radiographer from Portsmouth, where he lived and worked until recently. His poems have appeared in various European magazines & anthologies and may be seen here: FRACTURES

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Peter Brown
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Peter Brown
1 month ago

Great work, Mark

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