Bone runnels, grips and kirns,
Curls of butter, curds and honey, crumbs
On the breadboard. Milky tea.
All those hills to climb!
The asymptotic curves to flatten!
Culls are a drag: the cringing curs,
Seal pups and bloody clubs,
When just a slice of lemon curbs the scurvy.
Cousin, there comes a time
‘Faut bien mourir de quelque chose’
(We have to die of something). But
Let’s not all rush at once.
The voice I pump like porter
In the vaults of Friday night
Rarely vaunts but quietly
Conveys its viral load.
Dumb mineral, whispered green, voiced
Hunters and their prey, even the scrimshawed
Viruses that vault the barriers –
All of them vaunt creation. All of them sing.
Peter McCarey‘s recent published work includes Collected Contraptions (Carcanet, 2012) and Find an Angel and Pick a Fight (Molecular Press 2013). He ran the language service of the World Health Organization for 15 years then left to invent the perfect pandemic, which featured in Petrushka (Molecular Press 2017). He is a founding member of Poésies en Mouvement, panjandrum of Molecular Press and inventor of a pedal-powered confessional http://molecularpress.com/for-hire/; his collective exhibition on transitional toys opened in Glasgow in 2019 and will run in Geneva and Milan, pandemic permitting. His latest book is De l’oubli (Lausanne, L’ours blanc, 2019). www.thesyllabary.com
The sun laughing like
Tories outside a
Sure Start Centre, like
something is winning
in all this, like
it’s my time to shine.
The garden growing like
fuck me it’s Spring, like
taking over the world, like
this’ll keep your busy, like
everything is happy
I step into Stepford
on the blue mourning walk
for a real gone life.
A masked man at the bank
disdains an old smoker
at a cigarette’s end.
Three cyclists glance left right
beyond the Highway Code
in some secular sin.
A child surveys in
I step on the hushed road.
People talk in twos of
and sneeze in the sleeve notes.
I slalom my way through
contactless contact and
cue the hue of a queue.
in this infodemic.
Thinking on Pilate’s hands
and gulls gone fishing,
I walk on through the sun.
John Quinn is an ex-teacher writer and performer from Dundee. His poetry in Scots and English has appeared in publications such as Northwords Now, Southlight, Poetry Scotland and Scotia Extremis. He is the author of a modern historical novel ‘he Eyes of Grace O’Malley (Black Wolf Books) and a play O Halflins an Hecklers an Weavers an Weemin about the City of Dundee and the jute industry.
A chorus of possible Covid symptoms
A relentless gull mocking in the distance
The monotony of suburban rooftop views
The comfort of The Shipping News
Each BBC bulletin, every politician’s head
A decades-old memory of smoking in bed
Marlboro plumes through a golden boy’s hair
Hope Mirrlees balanced on the bedside chair
A hatbox of medicines, a floating nightdress
Six fretless guitars in a century’s detritus
An army of sanitizers at the kitchen sink
The tyranny of the next kombucha drink
Three surgical gloves on a wooden floor
Ivy threatening to suffocate the French door
The relief of the garden, innocence of grass
A resonance of Easter Sunday Mass
No waving of palms, no Communion wine
No parish pilgrimage, no unlikely shrines
Police helicopters circling wayside scenes
The Grim Reaper on amphetamines
A drift of Lenten Lilies, a Gethsemane howl
Strains of Bob Dylan’s Murder Most Foul
A click of rosary beads through pregnant pauses
The Patron Saint of Hopeless Causes
Saint Jude, Saint Drogo, Saint James the Less
Our Lady of Zoom, Saint Bernadette
Saint Polycarp of Smyrna, Saint Martin De Porres
Our Lady of Gaga, pray for us
Bernadette McAloon lives in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and works as an arts and mental health
practitioner in social care contexts. Her poems have appeared in various publications
including Butcher’s Dog, Mslexia, The Rialto, and Land of Three Rivers Bloodaxe anthology.
She is a recipient of a Basil Bunting Award and the Flambard Poetry Prize.
The rich alone are capable
Using trap doors and tunnels, back doors
and green dust to pull their disappearing acts,
before the bombs, before the red paint
on the doors, the lamb’s blood, the bricks;
clutching their passports behind turnpikes
and roadblocks, waving their bills
of health, looking through the riot shields
forcing force in on itself, grinding disquiet
behind the gates, behind the walls, back
into the pest house, and weighing down
its pockets for pits sunk at Knightsbridge;
getting out before the lime, before
the spade, before the cart, before the bell,
before the rumour and the fever starts.
John Challis is the author of a pamphlet, The Black Cab (Poetry Salzburg, 2017), a 2019 New Writing North Read Regional title. He’s the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and a Northern Writers’ Award, and his poems have appeared on BBC Radio 4, and in Magma, The North, Poetry London, The Rialto, Stand, Under the Radar, and elsewhere.