Poems, From Ovid to Covid…

Poetry is always valued in times of crisis

Below you’ll find the latest pandemic poems and some historical greats, as well as some more contemporary classics nominated by the Poetry and Covid Team.

‘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

What I Know

By Anne Taylor

That it’s hard not to take it personally when people avoid you like the plague.
That a word, or a smile, or saying hello with your eyes can make all the difference.

Two Poems

By Jessica Jost-Costanzo

They are just little white marks on the scan,
and they are floating shapes
that make me think of clouds—
clouds that look like funny things,
cute things.

Two Poems

By Tina Cole

I am a dot on the face
of this page
a white wilderness diary
boxed in by
dates with no purpose
it is new year in May
it is new year in June
the page edges
boundary a redundancy

Pas De Pandemic

By Molly Headley

tomber / pas de bourrée / glissade / jeté
fall down / stumble like a drunk / glide/ throw it away

Three Poems

By María Castro Domínguez

I dreamt you were the only one
in your house,
a few months after that I saw
all the world
and all its people laughing,
a party was going on
in a fast food restaurant a birthday cake
was divided into portions,
there was more than enough
for everyone.

Elemental

By Kerri Simpson

Fire asserted its destructive
power. Rivers choked.
Mankind prayed. Forgive
us our reckless ways. Rain
came. Cathartic tears
to wash away the flame
and extinguish our fears.

Three Poems

By Linda Cosgriff

How do you count the cost
of the worldwide Covid-19 toll?
Begin digging the first hole.

Covid-19

By Rani Drew

The Globe is vibrating with the Coronavirus.
Has there ever been such a threat to human life?
Yet now unseen and unknown it is overtaking the planet.

Two Poems

By Amanda Addison

stuck
we’re stuck in this place,
this time

Three Poems

By Stephanie Powell

pausing at street corners
to see if my flesh becomes brick.
Shin bones straight like
streetlamps- face lit only by phone-screen light.

Four Poems

By Bernard Horn

Consider your so-called life, that is,
if your hemming and hawing between
stolen life and pre-life, stolen life and pre-life
can be dignified by that term. Sure, there are
adjectives we living beings are driven
to apply to you: rapacious, single-minded,
flexible, dogged, but that’s just how we are,
driven to deny the nothing that is not there,
while you, like a snowman, do not see a thing.

Three Poems

By Mark Cassidy

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.

Three Poems

By R. G. Jodah

You can hear the rumpus rumbling all the way from aisle four
where some heavyweight contenders are arguing the score.
The champ has got a trolley-full, her challenger sod all.
They’re going at it toe-to-toe. The writing’s on the wall

Three Poems

By Frank William Finney

Sitting in the bleachers of a raucous
rally, we listen as they pack
our old suitcase with wrinkled
shirts and holey socks
A week’s worth of laundry
that stinks up the room.

Two Poems

By Daniel Hinds

On the first day of lockdown, I stopped my watch
And hung it on my writing desk.
To slip beneath the wrinkles of Time’s face
And sleep within the sandy trench.
I hope I will wake.

Three Poems

By Paul Francis

The way it’s supposed to work is this:
she goes into the trenches, fights disease
and thanks to her and others folk get well.
This isn’t Disney. There are some they lose.
The odds are, mostly, reasonable.

Portal

By J. C. Niala

As we attuned to lockdown
we forgot how life had once worked,
our soundtrack gone like
an interrupted livestream.

Afternoon Walk

By Tina Cathleen MacNaughton

I note, not without bitterness,
that this sadly says it all.
As if a rectangle of blue plastic
with strings and a squirt of
antiseptic was ever going
to be enough.

Pandemic Panorama

By Amanda Jones

My pandemic panorama
Produces a plethora of play.
Inside my cage of drama
Comes a theatre each day.

At the Twenty Four Hour Crematorium

By Linda Casper

In towns like Delhi, to deal with the pandemic at its height
Crematoria work all day and night
Wrapped in shrouds, ready to burn, maybe with flowers draped on top
Bodies of loved ones are brought here non-stop

April 2020

By Susan M Evans

Attention must be paid on the early morning walk:
to the steady eye of the rising sun,
red, bloated, emerging from the sea.
To the pale green ghost of the super moon,
in perfect opposition; taking reluctant leave.

Two Poems

By Rosy Wood-Bevan

I am no super-hero
I fly with neither cape nor angel wings,
nor sport a hollow halo.
I must dive without gills or fins,
spluttering under,
a broken snorkel.
Here, where no-one can breathe,
only machines sigh monotonously
in the swimming light.

Love Letter

By Paula Moore

This is a love letter to everyone who did not remodel the bathroom, learn a new language, or write a book during the pandemic. To everyone who wants to hold on to the lessons learned but is just trying to hold it together. To everyone who met the loneliness and loss sometimes with grace and sometimes by binge-watching Tiger King.

Learning Curve

By Judith Mendoza-White

2020 rollercoasters
on twos and zeros insolent with power.
It frets in graphs of lives and deaths,
of fear
in curves that must be flattened,
in figments of plans delayed
to a future hollow with maybes,
betrayed by frozen hours
pulsating with religious or pagan zeal
with gods surprised

What New Forms

By Andrea Holland

What is an event like this (and this) (and this) (and this)?
What new forms of drama (all of the drama is happening)

Two Poems

By Mark Kirkbride

Beyond the wheat fields, a city
plots a staircase against the sky
or a graph, its windows on fire
in the sun’s rich rays, each distinct
as if up close in fever dreams

Ibis

By Maggie Sawkins

This is what I heard:
you are holed up in a hotel
named after one of the first birds

Pandemic

By Preeti Kailey

scream, thrall, football
is coming home
home to a country with blood red stripes that run like veins through our bodies

A Walk in the Park

By Charlie Hill

And so, walking jumpily through the park where I had once played
drinking games with miscreants and unnamed Polish spirits – in joyous
violation of arcane mores and public health advice

Two Poems

By John M. Heavey

This feather-light, pleated mask,
blue as a summer day,
familiar as underwear,
could be a parasail for crickets,
a beach cabana for mice.

Two Covid Limericks

By Terry Marter

A vaccine, we all know’s the real trick
To prevent one and all getting sick.
Anti-vax minds are cold
to the facts that we’re told.
Either way all it takes is one Prick!

Two Poems

By Stuart McFarlane

Bacteria, they say, are alive.
Coronavirus, they say, is alive
and, yet, not alive.

Lockdown

By Joanna Wakefield

First, travel was restricted and we kept the home fires burning,
Then the planes stopped flying and rested on the tarmac
Like big white gulls waiting for fish to return.

Three Poems

By Guinevere Clark

talk under its unshakeable shade,
about years. Thousands of them –
graveyard statues in late sun.

Two Poems

By Helen Deal

You’re on a beach for your birthday,
a yawning, yellow Cornish beach
with picnic tables set like teeth in the sand.
A beach with unsnagged sky curving over
the headland, though I imagine the glass-sharp
April air must be flaying your flesh.

Three Poems

By Emma Purshouse

She walks them round the confines of the yard.
Lap…..after lap……after lap……after lap…..
after lap. Day after day. But it’s so hard
she has to admit, keeping it all intact

Pentre Village

By Phil Wood

The driest May and fear of drought and virus,
that smear of honeydew, and sallow leaves.
Our wish list idles in a camping van.

Three Poems

By Kathy Gee

That microscopic viral burst that started everything:
an exponential surge of matter, forming and reforming,
spreading outwards at the speed of travel plans.

Two Poems

By Nancy Huggett

We have come for the cherry blossoms.
It is spring. And a pandemic. And we wander each evening looking
for signs that this languishing is really a disguise for the liminal.

Poem

By Madeleine Begun Kane

Manhattan’s begun to reopen;
Just in time, cuz we barely are copin’.
Cabin fever’s widespread.
Are our fav nightspots dead?
Can we still get great food there? Here’s hopin’!

Three Poems

By Adrienne Stevenson

day by day the data mounts
raw figures accumulate
this many cases, that many deaths
even more undetected
wander through masked gatherings
adding their breath to the clouds
of vaporous viral particles

Three Poems

By Steve Pottinger

more uncomfortable than ever
this wasn’t how she imagined
life would be and she curses
her luck, the virus, this new normal
where shops not clubs have bouncers on the door
everyone hitting the dance-floor
in the canned veg aisle to a soundtrack of
our colleagues are working hard
in difficult circumstances…

Round the Ring

By Julie Cameron

Frost on the drive, glistening in the morning sunlight
Ding-a-ding-a, phone alert, rippling up a chord.
The postman on his round.
I spot him on my screen.
The post clatters through my letter box.

Two Poems

By Evon Wheeler

I hadn’t know loneliness until a stranger said hello
for months now, I’m met with averted eyes,
people swiftly crossing the road, to avoid all human contact.
empty blue hands line bleak pavements,
as tendril arms grab forward, the weeds are taking over
a smile, disguised behind a masked face,
muffling their greeting

Coronologue II: Vaccine Rising

By Rajan Sharma

Millions of people have now had it done, starting
With those who were high risk, including my mum;
At her booked appointment she rolled up her sleeve
Quick jab, then a rest, and then she could leave;

Three Poems

By Ilse Pedler

We divided our days into coins
for the new Government approved slot machine
rationing them one by one;
a coin for our one form of exercise a day,
a coin for shopping for basic necessities,
a coin for let’s bake some bread!

The Walk

By Genevieve Luyimbazi

After, the 14 days isolation,
Today I walked, My Mom, My Dad
We walked for fresh air, we walked for fitness.
We walked away from boredom at home.

Three Poems

By Roy Bainton

The April sun’s out
Determined to pierce winter’s
Dogged hanging-on
Commanding me to write
Something cheerful.

Two Poems

By Arthur Allen

All spring
death strikes
where it wants
like something effortless
and without human delay
transmitted into effect
the edict: die
and across the world
it was obeyed.

Subtidal Channels

By Graham Palmer

by the unsure foreshore of future Frindsbury
we collapsed slowly into the wine and blasted
chalk worshipping the hours we had lost

New Year: Discharged

By Wes Lee

The neighbour’s dog barks into the wind
for the boy who is never there.
On the porch, tethered to its red kennel,
it eyes the world,
barks with its full life-force.
An eyelash drifts down from the skylight.
Each day, fresh things fall
to grace.

Two Poems

By Anneka Chambers

the world lays limp, its axis
broken.
i swerve the contour of
weakened frames.
faces-chained-to-tension bodies-fixed-in-shock.

Three Poems

By Alex Alec-Smith

Down the sun baked path,
past the defunct quarry
with its burnt out cars
to the railway line.
A labyrinth of bushes
that catch at my hair,
nettles knee high
stinging through my jeans
as I follow the faint trace
of deer.

Two Poems

By Kathleen Bryson

You can choose not to see the posters or the placards
as you hide in situ take vitamin D tablets
And even if you deny it you can hear the domestics
pandemic sirens all night long some hands
slopping together on Thursday nights

Two Poems

By Ann D Stevenson

Intimidation,
pontification,
stay in location,
no integration,
no vacation,
no celebration,
just segregation
and separation.

The Prince Rambles

By Juan Gomez

Father has been rummaging, fidgeting through the house
for lack of work, and I can’t help but wonder:
what brittle castles are our clockwork systems,
so easily distraught by slightest pause.

Waiting to Exhale

By Mehreen Hamdany

In measured breaths
I count the days
In wary inhale
Of air and dust

Three Poems

By Hannah Linden

The world is playing into boxes
we open like guilty secrets
in the clang of our private spaces.
Maybe we should pay a fear-fee
for the release we feel, so we bless the senders
with surprise emoticons.

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

Two Poems

By Sue Matin

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

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

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