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

Three Poems

By Christopher

On the path outside the Highgate pearly gate
I stood and rattled chains, tried to enter, saw
That sign, again, ‘closed…’, I’ll have to wait
There’s no-one here, all furloughed, off to war

Three Poems

By Doug Sandle

Their work is done, the pestilence and pandemic has finished,
the drumbeats of death stilled, and the apocalyptic detritus
of destruction cleared. They came determined,
though not swiftly charging on horses,
but meticulously and mechanically
on old tractors, mocking our new technologies.

Sonnet for Now

By Lena Mattheis

I often think about our space these days:
The world I touch has now become so small.
I think about how much we can erase
And lay skin-covered fingers on my wall…

Dawn

By Yuu Ikeda

My brain draws
dawn that I saw with you
The dawn was hope
that I could run toward
new colors
The dawn was hope
that I could swim
even in despairing desert

Pandemic Tanka

By Rose Menyon Heflin

Echoing laughter
The bus stop across the street
People are waiting
Giggling through the pain and fear
Discussing the new normal

Three Poems

By Meiling Cheng

Once upon a time, there were dinosaurs.
They roamed the Earth as giants. They
ate everything, from vegetations to
dragonflies, from gazelles to tigers, to mineral deposits in
hard rocks, to their own babies. They combated
each other for sports. They wrestled with the
pre-Olympian Titans. They threatened to
dinosaurize the million futures of
terrestrial races.

How Not to Get Corona

By Matt Travers and Manolis Kapazoglou

Matt Travers is a writer and translator based in Aarhus, Denmark, whose recent work can be found in 3:AM Magazine, Zarf Poetry, Overground Underground, Firmament, Asymptote and Tripwire Journal. He is currently working on the English translation of Søren Fauth’s ‘Moloch: The Story Of My Rage’.

COVID 19, December 11th, 2020

By Gary King

A man in the ICU
puffed out
before his final breath:
I know I’m about to die
but no way in Hell it’s from Covid.

Two Poems

By Gwendolyn Soper

Ninety-four Google Chrome tabs
line up across the top of my screen.
My eyes caress them – I cling to each one.
They reveal my pre-pandemic life. If the tabs
are gone those parts may be forgotten.

Covid Winter

By Clive Reed

How much like winter has this illness been?
The icy blast that caught us unaware
And kept us locked inside a fortnight long,
As danger lurked beneath its icy stare.

Corona Virus My Sacred Teacher

By Matthew Gerald Mugerwa

If I were to take the road ‘less travelled’, I would choose you Corona Virus as my travel companion.

You Burned Us Day and Night

By Ranjith Sivaraman

Are you a natural selection or invention?
If natural selection, I have nothing to say,
And if you are invented, let the ‘splendour of thousands of suns,’
Blaze upon the heads of your inventors.

Two Poems

By Ruchi Singh

Who named you corona?
This word comes from the ‘crown’
The crown is preserver

Three Poems

By Anna Cates

Spring 2020. No effervescent sparkles beside the fireplace. No wine glasses clinking. No strains from a violin. Only our “great adaptation,” this social distancing . . .

Three Poems

By MJ Wetherman White

We’ve been cooped up here for months, just me and the dog,
the two of us sad, lonesome for the lost world we conjured

Shoot Me!

By Sabine Schwaebisch

Pain takes over.
We call it ‘holistic’.
Or ‘terminal agitation’, medically put.

Eve of Change

By Ed Davis

All falls down
now that it’s autumn:
leaves, acorns,
kings and kingdoms,
children of God.

On Patience While Sheltering At Home

By Debra Williamson

Patience is a muscle now
a pause that flexes
with intention: I heard
it in the cardinal’s seven
wordless syllables, calling.

Flatline

By Megha Anne Wilson

I have so much to speak.
So many words that stammer, pause and tell in my head
waiting to jut out of my mouth,
onto my hand
through the pen
onto the page or screen.

Three Poems

By Rita Coleman

I can take it.
I’ve been around the sun a few times.
Go ahead, tell me all about the deaths,
tell me how they died without caress
in the slipstream between breath and silence
a video call of last words.

Three Poems

By Louise Longson

The Welsh Lords are turning in their graves.
The shades of Llewelyn,
Cadwaladr and Glyn Dŵr haunt
the ghost town. All boundaries are
closed. Once it took twelve feet of
earth to keep us in, them out.
No-one comes now.

Nineteen Lines on Covid-19

By David Lee Garrison

It sneaks up behind you
and spits on your neck,
it sleeps with you,
storms into your dreams.

Two Poems

By Judy Johnson

No need to decorate, just two of us
and the dog, who doesn’t mind.
Our daughter’s a nurse, so grandkids can’t come—
and all those signs heroes work here
don’t translate into a raise.

Boxes

By Jack Nahmod

I’ll miss the warm embrace on my face,
the no excuse for losing touch while losing touch;
when negative was positive,
though positive was negative.

Two Poems

By Isabelle Ward

Tokyo shudders.
I lean out the window, three people in a room behind me
which has not changed but to more stubbornly not fit with the changing city around it,
and watch the cherry blossoms cry onto the river below.
With this time of new beginnings

Four Poems

By Sulabh Kumar Shrestha

My capricious little genome
Walking through your ribosomes
Millions of crowned copies
Commandeering your body
A violent storm of cytokine
Blindly destroying everything…

Missing You in Lockdown

By Linda Hibbin

Empty bench,
No one is there.
I see you though,
Running fingers through your hair.

Three Poems

By Annette Gagliardi

We ate the last of the peanut
butter yesterday. I used up
the Almond milk on half-cup
of Harvest Bakery granola, which
wasn’t as good as I’d hoped
it would be, so, there won’t
be hot cocoa tomorrow,
or pancakes for that matter:
no eggs, no sugar, no batter mix.

Sweet and Sour

By Genevieve Soriano Aguinaldo

bank tellers become priests
holding confession in plastic
asking how much do we owe
or how much do we need

COVID-19: New Rules!

By Gary Weston

Follow rules of social distance
It’s the path of most resistance
Stay at least six feet away
Don’t let others come your way

The Streetwalker

By Erica Hutchinson

I walk alone in the middle

Avoiding close encounters of all kinds

Longing for a safety net of any kind

And a return to the narrow normalcy of sidewalks

…that may never be

Cleaning in the Time of Covid

By Stella Ling

Cleaning the house with zeal of pornographic lust,
“Out, out damned spot!” was my credo against the dust.

Two Poems

By Cchristy White

Who have you missed
in this time of isolation,
of masks and distance?
Whose face did you dream
as the nights alone resembled days
without the touch of another?

Three Poems

By Heidi Greco

These days of no-contact, no touching, no hugs
we’ve been banned from even squeezing the produce.
Instead, we must eyeball each piled-up display
arranged by masked workers in the quiet of night.

It is the Time

By Albino Carrillo

It is the time
It is the time of
Gathering bags
Of dog food & weed

Pandemic Easter

By Herbert Woodward Martin

The cathedral is empty; the tomb is bare from the body
That occupied it from that tragic Friday no one envisioned
Emptiness as its own pain, brain wondering about loss
Who is responsible for this disturbance

Two Poems

By Sue Matin

The 09.37 rattles in
to a cathedral of echoes
an arc of pigeons swoop
through the inside outside

Anti-vaxxers

By Mandy Meikle

When I heard of anti-vaxxers
I thought they just hated clean carpets
Preferred Henry Hoover’s happy wee face
Sookin’ up stoor and the hard bits.

Two Poems

By Shagun Shingal

This is war.
And you, a warrior.
Chaos, all around you,
Suffering, pain and death.

Three Poems

By Juliana Thompson

I won’t forget the month they tried to trap me in a single identity.
A single timeline, in a bubble alone
But it’s only our physical form that’s poison
And so we’d escape those dangerous shells for now
And continue our lives without them

Pfizer

By E. Wells

It courses through veins
liquid sharp
spreading like tree roots;
blood distils
allowing an intruder
to barge in
shooting hand pistols.

Three Poems

By Leslie Timmins

there is a lining of care
a continuous red silk the colour of the mouths of young
ravens that blooms in knuckle belly throat and looks
nothing like the precious gems on the robes of
a goddess of mercy, but enfolds you
in the warmth of those holy arms
inside your own human own

I’m Leaving These Restrictions

By Audrey Pearce

Clear the Decks, I’m leaving, I need a change of air,
Because my environment has become overbearing,
It just isn’t fair. I must overcome these dire feelings
Of disconsolation.

Three Poems

By Pamela Galloway Dance the Zig-Zag As I walk narrow pathsI’ve acquired a new gesturesomewhat royal: my left hand raisedin a flat-palmed salute, not quite a wavelacking the twist at the wrist, not quitea full on Stop! But somewhere between,as I wonder, when another stroller approaches:will they zig, should I zag?And I swerve two metrestoContinue reading “Three Poems”

We Prepare For Our First Guests Post COVID

By Anna Papadopoulos

We empty the familiar ceramic bowls
where orphaned items have collected.
Toss the pencil with the broken tip
in the trash, its life
a casualty of our lethargy.
The Easter M&Ms also don’t make it.

Three Poems

By Michael Lewis

Even though it’s dark as thought, when our dog, Sprocket, and I take our morning constitutional, there is always some light somewhere.

Flying, Falling

By Angela Mckean

In dreams I am a small black kite.
I soar, nest, preen and drift
as smoky thermals lift me where they will.

Not a goodbye, a see you later, papa

By Shivani Sharma

It was a weird experience watching you transcend to another world
You held my hand when I was little and whispered ‘I will be there for you always’

We Called him Noah

By Ross MacKay

I am on an ark.
Bobbing on the ocean endless
Friends are fathoms far away
Further than the boat shall sway
So alone we sit upon the sea
With only our cat upon my knee

Anomalous films

By Deeplakshmi Saikia

The films are not catching up with the times
Maybe they don’t want to
Or maybe they are all of the genre fantasy
Touching, kissing, hand holding,
Pulling, shoving, public gathering, yes
But no cleaning, washing, scrubbing
Of all surfaces and airs

Home Office

By Briony James

Oh how I wish for a home office
a place to call my own
a retreat of calm and solace
where my thoughts can be by own.

Two Poems

By Hank Dallago

Some numbers are more verbal
than others. Like ones that broad-
cast a daily tally of the deceased.
Or inform details of my elevated
blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate –
the masked deadly trio.

Three Poems

By Tracey Stanley

Yes, I remember Adlestrop.
We cycled there
In search of Edward Thomas
One hot summer’s day
Through narrow Cotswolds lanes.
It was late June.
We came, and stared, and left again.
The bare platform was gone,
But the sign remained. Unchanged.

Two Poems

By Joanne Walton

Hello?
Are you there?
Can you hear me?
We’ll just wait another couple of minutes
Some others might join

Mine Are The Hands

By Wayne Medford

Mine are the hands which turn the dial, which tune the controls,
Which turn the page,
Which swipe the screen, seeking insight in this new age.

Pandemic Haiku

By David Petreman

Death, death, death, death, death.
Death, death, death, death, death, death, death.
Death, death, death, death, death.

Calypso’s Island

By Jasmine Greaves

It’s hard to be
The one who stays
Calypso on her island
Watching them leave her

Ill-lumination

By Renie Rivas

Fully-vaxxed. Truly blessed.
In a chair. On a date.
Eating a meal. Drinking a drink.
Thinking “How wonderful.” Under awful fluorescent bulbs. Over a year of eating alone.
Ordered something special. Had the PTSD.
It deserved better lighting.

Joan’s Needs to Move a Little Closer

By Stuthi Iyer

i only have an empty spool of thread, not
a stitch left and a lone needle, my weapon
for the invisible monsters on every surface

Three Poems

By Marka Rifat

How did Dürer evade the plague as he explored
what would one day be Europe?
Did siblings, parents and new wife wave a cheery
wiedersehen at his fleeing back as die Seuche
raised a pustulant fist to
hammer Nurembergers’ doors?

The Invisible Killer

By Joanne Mcgee

It rules this land like a monarch who wears a crown
It’s seeped into each and everyone of us
It’s taken away our lives within its murderous grasp

Four Poems

By Diana Jansen

Just another day.
Sliver of light through closed curtains.
One eye open,
Oh no – what, where, when…
A day like yesterday

Three Poems

By Michael Morrow

Heads no longer bent in
sub rosa conversations.
No loving snuggles or avuncular hugs.
No kisses, even the air variety.

Corona Moaner

By Ruth Shimelds

As I lay here in the sun
I contemplate how long the lockdown will run
It’s not that I’m bored to tears
Though truth be told I have been for years

Slice of Life

By Ira Khanna

When will life become New?

Dying Declaration

By Anjana Nair

I forgive the unmasked
Who thronged the malls, theatres and beaches
Consuming the pleasures
As if there is no afterward

Mask

By Leigh Anne Kranz

i put on the mask
and jump
into the atmosphere
sound of my breath
ocean hiss in the ear
warm spring otherworld
brims with life

Two Poems

By Sathyani Kotakadeniya

Prisoners of our houses; humans in captivity
At this time of social isolation
We are more than just alone
Everyone rambling on
About how their lives are on hold

Three Poems

By Rose Kelly

I begin to love the silence,
the collared dove’s wing clap,
falling in it’s mating flight.
Knitting needles tap.

Quarantine Thoughts

By Yasha Jadwani

It’s a difficult time for everyone,
rich or poor everyone is tensed
everyone is in the same boat
fighting with the same ocean’s storm

Two Poems

By Alison Milner

Birds cluster in spring bunches
perching at the crowns of trees
while pale humans overwinter,
behind blank canvas windows.

Three Poems

By Anne Casey

Breathing the same
cubic centimetres of air
his navy eyes holding
mine and mysteries
I will never fathom
two sentient beings
regarding each other
through a flimsy metal screen.

Isolation Road

By Gordan Ramsden

The road is empty
The road follows the moor edge
Heather- clad hills surround it
Bright sunlight shines on it

COVID 19

By Jean Hart

Isn’t it strange how life can change
In the blink of an eye

This Past Year

By Diana Howard

There was light in the dark.
A slight spark parked itself
among us illuminating the idea
that good can come from shadows,
reminding us of what we
needed to fight for.

Corona Woes

By Sunita Sahoo

Fear of corona everywhere,
Those ICUs reek of helplessness and despair!
Inconsolable tears, irreplaceable losses,
Shortage of wood for burning those corpses!
Resistant mutant strains, death toll on high rise,
Families aghast at their loved ones sudden demise!

Three Poems

By Colin Self

Every lockdown felt like the living dead
Dire thoughts imagined filled with dread
Many months of coping with coronavirus

Three Poems

By Todd Matson

Is it because millions of evangelicals subscribe to a false dichotomy between faith and science and believe that if you get the vaccine, you show a lack of faith?

Stolen Identity

By Philippa Briggs

Tonight on ‘Stolen Identity’ we
have a confused woman from Newcastle.
Rocking and muttering “I am not me”

Stones of the Times

By Kathleen Janick

“Everything will be okay”
Whispers the rainbow-colored stone on the side of the trail
Others on a log, in the stream, over a bridge:
“Stay calm.” “Be a good neighbor.” “Feel.”
And painted in pink and yellow, placed conspicuously on a stump: “Unlearn.”

Three Poems

By Smita Pradhan

The world was rushing and hurtling forward at great speed
The pace was hurting nature and mother earth indeed
So maybe it was she who prayed for some relief

Is it Time to Go Yet?

By Jacalyn Carley

Winter’s tourniquet tightens,
it wrings the white out of a cloud
to cut off the throb of dawn.
I watch a limb of horizon be sacrificed
to save the torso of sky. Too grey, this morning.

Three Poems

By Rabbi Gila Colman Ruskin

Masked and obedient to the six foot distance
We skipped across the busy street-
Our corona-rope taut between us

Four Poems

By Tracey Pearson

My lockdown days are nothing like the rest,
no sourdough starter, no working from home,
no online, Zoom time, career beating best,
no deadlines, meetings, just sitting alone.

Three Poems

By Grace Cavalieri

My sacred space, a bird flying to the feeder
the shade of a tree, berries in the forest
heat from the sun on the pane
flames of experience
lashing on glass

Two Poems

By Duane Anderson

I was one of the odd ones,
church members who were only allowed
to attend services on odd Sundays,
the first and third Sunday of each month

Sunny Day

By Carol Beaumont

The sun is out and I hope that it stays,
It’s made a big difference to all of our days

Choreography

By Amy Beth Sisson

With gloved hands she
drops papers through the testator’s mail slot. She walks to the house next-door. Weeds invade the spaces between patio bricks

Two Poems

By Richard Ward

Making the most of Plymouth town
Set free haircut and lockdown frowns
Makes Primark throb with braying hunters

Did I Miss a Bit?

By Courtney Conrad

We come in the wee hours or at night.
Rustling hazmat suits and snapping gloves
dividing rooms by the hours.
Faces tight from concentration;

Hidden Meanings

By Tony Dawson

‘Ire’ lurks in your desire
while your eyes conceal a ‘yes’
from everyone but me.

Vaccine

By Robin Wright

A prick, a sting,
a sharp kick to skin
caught unaware.
Brain registers
the invasion
but sings a tune
about life, liberty,
continuation of dreams.
Pajamas puddle on the bedroom floor,
shoes slide from the closet.
The sun is out and so are you.

Three Poems

By Dennis Andrew S. Aguinaldo

The bamboo can’t help
Bending to wind then rising
To fill its absence.

At UC-Hospital for Our Covid Shots

By Robert Cooperman

Minus two this morning,
so I ram on my ear-flapped
Grateful Dead Dancing Bears
soft as lamb’s wool winter cap
that could keep me warm
in Siberia; hell, in Antarctica.

Music During a Pandemic

By Eamonn Hubert

Music during a pandemic isn´t like music in a regular world
It is closed up inside a home and doesn´t get to be seen

Two Poems

By Joseph Killukan

The ultimate in evolution
Still far from a solution.

Three Poems

By Rachel Clyne

Sparrows are nesting in the firethorn,
a woman round the corner struggles
to breathe through scarred lungs.
After four weeks, she’s still grateful for her life.
Meanwhile, through the party wall,
next-door’s bedsprings crescendo
as procreation’s rhythm mounts.

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

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