Poems, From Ovid to Covid…

Poetry is always valued in times of crisis

‘In the beginning the sky weighed down on the earth in a thick, black fog which trapped the prostrating heat in a blanket of clouds; and throughout the time that it took four moons to wax and to wane, the south winds blew with their sweltering currents of toxic air.’

Ovid, Metamorphoses

I Attended a Funeral Today

By Naomi

A funeral with jeans on,
No mourning gown, not even in black.
In the same old chair, in the same old room.

Two Poems

By Bea Lehmann

Here where the creek divides,
this desolate borderland between
the future and the past…

Still Breathing

By Cathi Pawson

I glimpsed a woman as I drove the dark lane.
She wore the moon in her hair.

The Pandemic and Survival

By Amos Wisley

The shocking news of a virus, a flu then the name!
“Corona” and “covid-19” the name so scary as flame,

Two Poems

By Laura Glenn

We appear in little squares—
a sheet of commemorative stamps,
minus the commemorated one;
four generations—all over the map—together,
sans hugs, food, schmooze.

Who Knew

By Nic Brown

Who knew life could be so restrictive, so isolating, so uncertain,

Alone (Together)

By Miriam Huijser

The deafening silence of nothingness
embraces me in an an embrace too tight
to find comfort within, I try to fight
the tears stuck in between

Girls’ Night

By Dawn Birch-Tutt

Girls’ night then was going ‘out-out’.
High heels, lipstick, pout.
A chance to catch up over curry,
To share our Newest News.

Three Poems

By Andrea Nicki

The world sits under a huge dome
with all its belongings
as the year descends into the darkest day

Three Poems

By Emily Axelrod

The first snow falls early,
sealing us in our house of quarantine.

Two Poems

By Sarah Gorban

As I sit at a computer, the fingers move to press
‘Ctrl Z’ as if a redo of history could cleanse
a COVID world of the reality to reside

January Lockdown

By Samantha Koczy

The earth is stone.
The weight of the snow bends branches,
Some break.
The weight of isolation bends minds,
Some break.

Limbo

By Zakia Nasir

Living in a limbo of
the real and the surreal

Soap

By Annie Kenning

so much depends
upon

Three Poems

By Tim Heerdink

We live in a new ever-changing world of paranoia
where the air is poison & a scratchy throat calls
for a two-week minimum quarantine in solitude.

January 2021

By Hannah Mackay

Trundle and din, going about your business.

Old Days

By Tim Brookes

Are these Old days on notice;
our blind faith in tomorrow?
You have to go through the bad
to appreciate the good.

Covid-19

By Qurrat-ul-Ain

A small invisible spec, o, not a spec even,
A lifeless thorny minor ball, yet mighty enough
To challenge daringly a creature six feet tall,
Bringing the world into chaos,

Quarantine

By Rory Morrice

14 days of solitude – an anti-viral cleansing,
A sacrifice of liberty for entry to a frenzy,
No faces, names or words exchanged,
Three knocks a day for meals to claim,
The hand that feeds and holds the key,
Keeps inside in and outside free.

Slow Panic

By Amy Elizabeth Doherty

I am afraid, again
Of things my body might do
With twisted, poison breath
it’s branches reaching deep

Two Poems

By Dave Wood

that nothingness gets everywhere – omni- there
and so on – poses as a stranger as it can
ekes into our mental state – has a flair
for catching up with us – ubiquitous as sand

Our Separate Ways

By Michele Witthaus

I’m trying to warn you
but you don’t want to hear.

Oh Deer

By Joel Segal

They are seemingly free to roam
We roam but must not gather
They seem unaware of our struggle
We can learn much from them

Two Poems

By Marguerite Grey

Thank you for clapping,
thank you for caring,
I am the nurse whom you honour each day

Two Poems

By David Gale

tipping point
dogs barking at something
only they know

Two Poems

By Hannah Stone

Local restrictions announced.
My washing machine died.
Neighbourly spirit trumped compliance,
kindly chaps visited my poorly appliance.

Three Poems

By Olivia Tuck

There’s something going on, says Grandma,
when the earth becomes a flan, frantic
to drink winter’s flood water, springing
grape hyacinths to dilate pupils.

Comfort, Curtailed.

By Susie Wooderson

We rise
to greet the coffin.

Ventilator

By Steve Horne

‘Let go’, without letting go
cede control of your soul
she’ll watch it breathe for you,
despite you, in her role

Three Poems

By Gerry Stewart

My neighbour chats through the hedge,
of isolation and paths through an old forest.

The Sky over Wuhan

By Donna T. Obeid

We think life will always go on the same way,
Our freedoms as endless as the days.

Three Poems

By Katherine Perry

Breakfast TV showed
a photo of the sunrise
over Bridlington harbour.

Distancing Socially

By Chris Palmer

she was well-known
as a super spreader
when we found ourselves
locked down

Two Poems

By Jenna Selvas

a straggle of hedge
withered beanstalks like
three-day stubble on frostbitten skin

Two Poems

By A. C. Clarke

Two men in high viz
arms measuring the distance
between their two mouths.

The New Normal

By Léonie Alvey

It’ll all be different in The New Normal
That is what everyone says.
As our world goes from tangible to virtual
And life becomes a blur of days.

Being There

By R C Powell

The Common Man
lying in his bed,
dying.

The Magic Number

By Charlotte Tucker

‘Tis the season to be jolly!
But look at the plumptious Holly,

The Border’s Closed

By HK Stubbs

The border’s closed
But I’m on the right side
The bright side
It doesn’t feel very good.

Three Poems

By Mrs Glen Hughes

We’re still in isolation, my husband’s here with me.
We look out of the window, people passing by we see.
We haven’t ventured out at all, just once to get our pills.
Not that we had covid, just our age related ills.

Two Poems

By Helen Scadding

there are no simple facts
the atmosphere is growing a little unstable.

Two Poems

By Leela Soma

The fear, the fever, gripping mankind,
hive minds in enlightened times
spools back as one hunkers down,

Must-Have Holiday Emoji Recipes for 2020

By Kurt Eidsvig

Stay home. Save your neighbors
from the careless carols. Customized
and personal, and better than gooey-frosting
gingerbread homes could ever hope for,

Three Poems

By Stephen Kingsnorth

What is this monster on the screen,
come bouncing round with knobs in place,
as though arrived from outer space,
an orbiter, unknown, unseen?

Silver Linings Scream

By Ceinwen Haydon

Brought back inside
by airless thunderstorms –
sweat stings paths down her back,
delivers torture in her Covid prison.

Twenty Twenty

By Moira Garland

All that year it got greyer, the blue
sulked like dirty washing

Christmas Cards

By Michael Cuthbertson

Hope 2019 has been good to you.
Here’s to health and happiness in 2020.
Hope the New Year’s kind to you and yours.
Hope you have a great 2020.
Looking forward to meeting up in the New Year.

Corona-gram Distillation

By Michael Leach

Michael J. Leach (@m_jleach) is a poet and academic at Monash University in Bendigo, Australia. His first book is a chapbook of health-related poems called Chronicity (Melbourne Poets Union, 2020).

Two Poems

By Jodi Lundgren

two fill a small tent
hard-hearted words, cramped bodies
square feet versus us

Coronavirus

By Julie Beaton

Coronavirus is here
The world living in fear
Losing people so dear
I shed many a tear

Coronavirus

By Ira Lightman

Ira Lightman is an artist and conceptual poet. His first collection was from Shearsman in 2008.

Ira’s work is informed by music, mathematics, language-learning, improvisation and the vexed question of free verse for our times.

Changing Track

By John Davison

I used to be a hermit, on that lifestyle I was keen
But now everybody’s at it, thanks to wretched quarantine.

Benediction for a Quarantine Kitchen

By Cara Waterfall

Bless this chicken
with its yellow-fat nacre,
& slip of muscle & vein.
Honour the bounty
of its broth
& trivia of bone.

The End of the World

By Talis Adler

I was told it would start with an earthquake, birds and snakes and aeroplanes,
and instead we’ve got closed doors and capitalist fury and Lenny Bruce would be ashamed.

Mid Winter City Dweller

By Jess Trigg

When will we see the snow drops again
And the yearning buds of roses
The crocuses will play amongst the grass
Whilst the tulips choose their poses

Two Poems

By Eveline Pye

At the lights, four people form the vertices
of a two metre square, stand waiting
for green, then snake downhill, curving
away from another coming up.

Lockdown Alphabet

By Anne B. Murray

Anne B. Murray’s poems have been published in several journals and anthologies.

Vaccine There, Done That

By Michael Polgar

Who will wash the dishes when the vaccines are all given?
Who will cart medical waste and where will it be driven?
Will the wake the virus makes be messy? We don’t know.
Just washing hands and masking up still leaves us far to go

Hope for the Future 2

By Julia Armory

Locked up, locked away and also locked in
We need rubber gloves just to put out the bin
Dreadful pandemic is driving us mad
Not talking to people is making us sad

Reach Out Amidst COVID-19

By Rossi Hassad

Blank faces, silence, tears
The elderly shared with me

Three Poems

By Mark Fishbein

In the microscopic universe of microbes,
Corona appears the perfect ornament
To hang from the Christmas tree;
A green bubbly marshmallow
With hundreds of phallic tubes
Leading to red poisonous lips…

News and Cliché

By Gexter Lacambra

Waste, Negligence and Cronyism:
Inside Britain’s Pandemic Spending

Shoah 2020

By Carmine Giordano

the hibiscus tree
with the bird’s nest
in its heart
was first to the axe
as the year ended

Two Poems

By Abbi Flint

Standing in a field above the city
I look to you
where the edge of land meets skies,
where the shoulders of the bridge would be

Boxed In

By Janet Banks

Laces splayed, limp, plead for attention, hanging out an open box
too small for my Merrell, 7.5, Performance Footwear.

Tier 4 Covid

By M.E. Muir

Variants swarm across the town
first infant grows wild
on granular mutations
morphs to the vicious thug
robbing tomorrow

A Glasgow Pandemic

By David McVey

I have become a stranger to this
Covid-closed city, an absentee.
Since March 2020 I’ve been twice;
the dentist and blood-donation.

Two Poems

By Marie Papier

I remember the chirping song
of grasshoppers in wild-flowered fields
through high summer,

Drookit

By Maggie McShane

Ah remember when the Covid came
Creeping stealthily across the map
Distance high. Numbers low.
Western complacency a welcome trap.

Hurdy Gurdy Player with Dancing Dog

By Andy Brown

Strange to think that, once, these streets were noisy,
Now that lockdown’s brought them to a hush:
The cars are gone, the buses at a standstill

In the Morning

By Miriam Ben-Yoseph

Books and Coffee
Morning Pages
Out with Harley
And then breakfast

I am Still Singing

By Basman Derawi

I stand at my window.
The weather is cold
But I still stand,
Watching the empty streets
Running from the death demons
Whispering in my ears.

A Covid Christmas

By Lucy Gamon

Little Johny’s feeling sad
‘Cause Gramps has Covid very bad.
John’s writing Santa Claus a letter
In hopes that he can make things better.

Pandemic

By Claire Unis

A haze filters the morning sun,
hanging like smoke,
a stench
wending its way
into consciousness.

Christmas Bubbles

By Bernadette Sweeney

A Covid Christmas beckons,
household Christmas bubbles arranged.
I think, how daunting, outlandish
This situation is

Imagine

By Rameen Khan

Imagine if 2020 did not turn out the way it did
Imagine if there had not been a virus, the coronavirus, COVID-19

The Pandemic

By Pankaj Trivedi

Romeo and Juliet look tame
in the city of Verona,
By sixty years of their love-
shattered by Corona

The Queen’s Speech

By Beth Woollacot

Silent anticipation;
The soft crackle of a radio that only speaks once a year.
Waiting,
And then,
At 3pm
Like clockwork
She speaks.

Then and Now

By Ann Parker

Did they sing in air raid shelters?
ARP between the raids? Civil Defence,
Home Guard?

Three Poems

By Eithne Cullen

when you’re suffering in lock down
and you’re feeling quite oppressed
spare a thought for all the dogs
who never get a moment’s rest

In Your Eyes

By Elizabeth Guzman

As nurses,
In your eyes we see fear,
Fear when you are told you tested positive,
Fear of the unknown and what is to come,
Fear in not knowing if you will overcome this.

Two Poems

By Janet Jiahui Wu

not everyone talks about it but it’s on everyone’s mind
everyone has their own opinions about it and other things

Suspicion

By Holly Conant

Right now, you could be climbing the ladder of my DNA. Maybe you already have. Maybe I didn’t even feel your steps.

The Home Within my Head

By Isabel Turner

Everyday feels as though we are
Playing hide and seek with death
Unsure of who he might wish to take
Whose breath

DNR

By Denise Steele

Into a time of inequality, into division, uncertainty,
into distraction and sheer frivolity, suddenly came – a pause.

ISHOWLATION

By Eftychia Mikelli

Two Poems

By Christine Redman-Waldeyer

At entry one is welcomed by the clementines,
the grapes in shades of red and green,
granny apples or Macintosh.

Two Poems

By Bob David Salter

Tell me daddy.
What did you do in the war of 2020?
Was it heaven or was it hell?

The Marching Millions

By Bhuwan Thapaliya

Every moment
the pandemic slashes us
into pieces,
pauses our heart

Corona Sucks

By Till Kinzel

Corona sucks
me into waves
of melancholy

Covid 19

By Ayesha Perveen

Phenomenological consciousness
Of pandemic spatiality
Iterates after a century

Fears for Tiers

By Liz Boys

Rising from the melting smog a dazzling Shard of glass,
Gilded padlocked gardens, “Please keep off the grass”.

PPE

By Lucy Allsopp

This season we are wearing
the looser trouser. We flap with
the snap of distant yachts, tacking
at two metres, spinnakers

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About Us

Poetry and Covid is an Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project, aiming to share poems and spark discussion around poetry and pandemics.

Dive into some poems and start commenting to join the conversation. Plus, submit a poem to poetryandcovid@gmail.com and be featured here and on social media.

The opinions expressed in works published on this website are those of the authors and do not reflect the opinions of the PoetryandCovid editors. We will not knowingly publish anything in breach of libel laws or which promotes anti-social views.

Next Poetry and Covid Reading, 10th March, 7pm (GMT): Three international pairings of acclaimed poets recite collaborations written for the AHRC-funded Poetry and Covid project anthology, published by Shearsman Press.