My Poor Wife by Ojo Taiye
for couples who died due to complications from Covid-19
do you think time will heal all wounds? what if our wounds do really heal? unspool a ribbon of air—my wife’s last breath. i just can’t go home when i am sober. i keep pressing the doorbell even though no one is inside. look how dusk light dawdles over the limbs of the cashew tree where we first met. her eyes, the soft chords of a diffused light. i don’t know love other than the need to be powerless. my sore knees inching towards a kind of reprieve— all the remaining time we promise to hold each other closer like a child’s tripleting worry. i think it’s why God invented the heart— so, we’d have a way of being happy alone afterwards. a drowning man will call anything salvation if it’s science. i wish i could stop bringing myself to your old photographs. i’ve lost my sight— the sky is grey & the pain completely leaves my heart empty. all over the city, morning comes & a wound creates dithering.
A few realms of quarantine by Meesha Katyal
A whorl of roses,
Packed tightly in a room
We forgot to clip our thorns,
But Chester knows how to plug them
To stop the wound from bleeding.
Spirals of losing yourself,
In a notebook punched together
With staples of what is real
And what does it mean to be real?
Somewhere bordering between living and non living
is a palace of stagnancy, a virus
Laced with jewels, a king to be throned
A war to be lost
For the crown is only for the dead
And burial is for the breathing
But breathing through cloths
That sew our mouths shut
to all the labels, “Hunger is a feeling,
Wait for it to go away.”
Just like a dream, you’re starting to forget
Slowly but definitely.
The freedom of your consciousness
The number of deaths you read every morning.
April by Ojo Taiye
orange leaves scattered all over
the green, green ground. i walked
over the earth’s loosed shoulder, too far
from home, to see the streets abandoned
again. my father, with his low-hanging
belly sits on the porch. like a bird culled
from the open fields, he held the sticky
radio to his frail ears. so much ador in
this desire to know the flags filled
with the stench of harsh brine. i pour
vodka in my coffee & the pith of my
anxiety doubles. i want to ask if the
dead can hear music? i want to ask if
silence will trim my mother’s fingernails?
otherwise, i know what will give me comfort.
my sister’s garden: her primrose, her Nagasaki
blossom & her dahlia. & the brightly colored
butterflies, making sounds only the heart
can hear. another beautiful thing: i wash
my hope in goldenseal, lemons & garlic.
How Tall Is Truth? by Ojo Taiye
you ask if i am happy & i say yes. the air has that early summer smell— the knowing that even loneliness atrophies. i call my mother on a weekend to ask after her health & she tells me about a woman who feels like a safety razor.
you ask if i am loved and i say yes. there are lemons under my pillows. on the phone, my mother inverts her tongue like in love— the hope of a gray sky inside me. i drink my warnings and ask my mother if she feels defeated like floating bodies: Palestine. Syria. Somalia. Texas Concentration Camps. there is always violence among folks eating paper instead of God.
you ask if i am listening right before i wake and i say yes. in what country does loss reside? whose dead have i been trying to drown in me. i am trespassing with two languages, not one. dear flowers & millipedes. dear town, railway stations & market squares. dear plastic faces, there is no home for my anima.
you ask if the trees & the birds are gossiping and i say yes. the orange sun sinks down and no one gets hurt. some nights my body tells me all its problems. my hands are open like a cut stem. i want to be carried back, across the ocean to my father’s hut— a home where i can fix my tongue to speak.
you ask if i am a ship in movement and i say yes. there is a small house in a brown field where the ghosts of my childhood still sibilate. i dream of a specific set of colors; green, fuchsia, amber and navy blue. & these colors take the place of memories— a particular border which showed up in my life as a twenty-first century image: cardinals & kidney beans.
you ask if i inherited a woman’s body & i say yes. every language has its own duty. each morning i crow at the world and sell flowers to another country for bullets to defend ours. how many ways are there to hold hope? from sunlight, from bitter remedy. i open the earth and sow a bowl of discarded skins soaked in lemon. & still i can’t find a face there in the rain.
you ask if my voice will be enough to last through winter and i say yes. the pandemic will end soon and the baby will come in spring. nothing is more sacred than rivers & bones— a place to stay alive thickened with its texture.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?- for Donald by Ojo Taiye
ghosts are real. there is no other way to say it—
we aren’t safe anymore. the day commences its eyeliner
& there are sparrows flying slowly high above the wide
vacant where home used to be. this is how it is about this place—
each day is a bad day. through the stippled glass i watch the neighbors
sit on their fears & when the night comes they hide the dead bolt
beneath their bedroom floor. there are no windows from which i do
not see the world crumbling. i mean each sneeze, each bang—
a kind of hurt that separates me from ordinary cheer.
Fever by Ojo Taiye
in a certain past, i sit up in bed reading when i should be sleeping. tomorrow more animals will die. where there once were daughters will be salt. where there once were sons will be asparagus. & those that speak a language with no future tense will gather in a room filled with daylight. it’s a comfort to think that a poem is just a room for being— a window for the soul to humiliate the heart. what use is an open parenthesis if no one believes in me? memory is memory & i storyboard my own grandmother into a poem: i wouldn’t know a border if her body is a map folded once to many. i am black where it matters, but not anymore. somewhere in this education i am a weather system curling over water. i touch her land & it remade us both— everything has some particular lexicons & a man at the border checks my tongue for dry cough, fever, or letters. meanwhile when my father calls me a cruise ship & i pretend it means wolf head glazed with the wind. here, i am a translation of misheard horoscope & cartography. this city holds us to its forehead like a sad prayer. & i lay flat as a prairie on my spring bed. i touch myself, pressing my fears against the light of a burning room, & the sound of a stallion tearing through a field shifts our broken bodies into a cup of hunger. i am sick of it—the lust, my many selves, the delayed verbs when its bent & liquid. if i dream, can i call it home? & again, what does it matter— another summer approaches without fur, punctuations, or joy.
Mock Drill for Second Wave by Akshaya Pawaskar
Fight, flight, freeze, fawn.
For once we are frozen.
How we are terrified of this vast
that exit seems a better defense
a certainty, a blessing
yet how does one land up
on feet after a somersault,
how does one fight
this destructive love of death,
decline the invitation
rsvp a ‘no’ and live again.
Hoarding our plasma,
armed with antibodies against
this terrorist with no religion
no form, no agenda.
Yet moving the pacifist to war,
one which is pyrrhic
yet needs to be won.
One where we stand unite in division.
One where we hem in our bodies
like something sacred not to be touched.
Pull down the visors to shield our eyes
from the antichrist that lurks invisible.
Groping in the dark to to find our god, hold his hand.
He opens his mouth instead and shows us the reflection
of the entire universe contained within us
where he nestles.
The hope then flies free from the dense mass
of grief and fear that floats like a black hole
with a pull of gravity
so strong that no light escapes.
If it occupied space we would
be pushed off the edge of a planet thought to be flat.
But it isn’t, so we remain clinging, upside down
practiced, not perfected
for another onslaught
believing this was just
a mock drill.
By Hilaryhilary lester
The lightning flashed the thunder roared the signs could no longer be ignored the Covid pandemic was here to stay
Killing thousands on its way
Unprecedented times we were told
My trip to Turkey put on hold
Loud clapping every Thursday night
Through the gloom the sun shone bright
Friends and family offered to help me.
Did my shopping ,baked things for my tea
Kept in touch by e mail or phone
Making me feel I was not alone I am a lady who likes to go out
When that stopped I wanted to shout
Open the parks so I have somewhere to walk
My birthday in this horrible year, one I can chalk
Parks reopened so somewhere to go with my dog for a run
Life at last was becoming a bit more fun
House a lot tidier, garden neat
Virtual Welsh coast path, a year to complete
870 miles, digital postcards along our way
Maybe a rainbow at the end of the day
A year to remember it has to be said
My father amongst thousands dead
Much better on Teams, Skype and Zoom
Registered blind but I can see through the gloom
By Gaye Kendrick
Don’t go out just please stay in.
And I’m sure together we shall win!
It’s not a holiday, to go out and play!
But people still do I have to say!
You must understand this virus can kill.
So stay in your house, I hope you will.
Keep washing your hands with water and soap.
Cause if you do there’ll be more hope.
Family and friends must stay away.
And you only go out just once a day.
Maybe a walk in a quiet place.
So you can relax in your own little space.
Think of the people working every day.
To keep you safe in every way.
Do it for them as well as yourself.
And please look after your NHS.
By Gaye Kendrick
During this time you may feel sad
Or even feel like you’re going mad!
Locked in your house both day and night.
In a world of darkness without any light.
But you must remember we’re in this together.
And something like this will not last forever.
You will see your family and friends again.
Just at the moment we don’t know when.
But… if you’re feeling down just pick up the phone.
And I’ll happily listen while you have a moan.
We’ll have a drink and merry we’ll be.
On the Facetime App just you and me. 💕.
By Gaye Kendrick
When this is all over……..
When this is all over, a party we’ll throw!
But to celebrate what? I really don’t know!
That life is now normal and family we’ll see?
Or just how lucky we are, that it wasn’t me?
Let’s spare a thought for the little lost souls.
Who lost their lives leaving great big holes.
Their families are grieving both day and night.
Their lives full of darkness, there is no light.Our thoughts and prayers to them we send.
And hope their broken hearts shall mend.
We’re the lucky ones and for that we must say.How grateful we are to see another day.
Yes we shall celebrate but I would now hope to see.
A much kinder world both for you and for me.
But for now my friends indoors we shall stay.
To keep COVID 19 well away! 💙❤.
The Year of the Pandemic by Corrie Barber
2020 beckoned a year of promise and wonder
But in the month of March we felt the thunder
Following the news of a virus spreading in Asian lands
We started to panic buy and frantically sanitise our hands
Told to close our doors and to not step outside
From an unruly virus we needed to hide
With sneezes and chesty coughs raising an alarm
Relying on orders from MP’s to keep us from harm
Our confinement release came but only on a Thursday night
Clapping in solidarity for the NHS and their resilience in this fight
Back inside we would go social media scrolling and glued to the news
Aiding fear mongering and anxiety, in a battle we felt we might loose
Online shopping becoming the norm with delivery slots increasingly rare
With toilet rolls in limited supply and supermarket shelves getting bare
Zoom meetings and FaceTime calls were the only way of being together
Keeping sane through binge drinking, Netflix and thoughts of it not lasting forever
We were then allowed out for an hour of exercise each day
To get that much needed fresh air, whilst still keeping Corona at bay
With numbers going down and restrictions starting to ease
We could head back out to the pub, the gym… basically come and go as we please
As long as we kept two meters apart and wore a mask at all times whilst indoor
With the ‘Eat out Scheme’ encouraging us to do it all that little bit more
Despite the restrictions things seemed to be on an upward trend
However with cases rising, local lockdowns soon put that to an end
Staying in our boroughs seemed not to be quite good enough
So they’ve now imposed a fire break which is going to be tough
No more sunshine and summer making it not seem all so bad
With winter looming and the pandemic adding to our seasonal SADContinued cancelled plans, isolation and seemingly no end in sight
We have to try to remain positive and stick together in this fight
Using this time to practise self-love and life-evaluate
We won’t ever get these moments back, even though we have to wait
Let’s hope its’s not too much longer until we can all reunite
Just think how good the ‘normal’ things will feel when the timing is right