Postcards from Malthusia DAY FORTY-SEVEN: Bernadette McAloon

Lenten Litany


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.


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