Postcards from Malthusia DAY FIFTY: Peter McCarey

Social Distancing


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; 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).




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