Four Poems

By John Brewer

The Grief of the Crowd

The world we left is not where we’ll return
There is so much lost for which we yearn
And so many new things we have to learn

So, I asked people what they’ve had to leave
behind – the things they’ll grieve

One speaker, a true mental health sage
missed sharing his message from the stage
One felt they’d lost a direction, a goal
Losing the purpose that nourishes the soul
Another the knock of the client on their door
A sound Covid ensures she’ll her no more

Many missed gathering with family and friends
Zoom’s okay but when each call ends
We are left wishing for deeper connection
An unmediated means to show affection

Indeed, what people missed most was a simple hug
Damn Covid for turning a human feature into a bug
Because touch and connections are a human need
Community the flower that grows from that seed
Many missed the energy other people provide
When gathering together side by side

Some miss walking down a busy street
Without having to fear everyone they meet
Looking forward to when we can simply greet
And not worry about those damn six feet

Not seeing people smile from behind their mask
Making human connection a Samsonian* task
Fear fills the gulf between embrace and salutation
Mourning the loss of touch – of skin’s sensation
While your mask protects me from your breath
The sense of touch dies a little death

For those of us living in foreign lands
We grieve a freedom snatched from our hands
I long to just hop on a plane
Fly back where I was born – be home again

And grieve for those whom we hold dear
Who struggle with loneliness, uncertainty, sadness, fear

Having to follow social distancing rigidly
robs us all of serendipity
Of casual encounters with our friends
Of conversations without end
Strolling casually to a local restaurant to dine
Good conversation, a glass of fine wine
Missing the ”hi’s. the hello’s and the how do you do’s”
No matter how hard the day they helped us get through
I miss Sunday afternoon at a cafe with friends
Now each day into the others blends

Missing the sound of kids laughing at recess
The ring of the bell – the howl of distress

For some a simple the loss of a haircut causes pain
Wondering when their locks will be styled again

One person missed her choir and singing
Each person’s voice in the others’ ears ringing
That sense of joy in harmony
I’m here for you and you’re here for me

One mother shared the sadness of her daughter turning eight
Hoping for party – friends, painted faces, cake on a plate
A gathering so important for this little playmate

With in-person events not allowed
Many miss the energy of the crowd
That might be as a yoga teacher
Or at church your local preacher
I miss being a live conference chair
It’s just not the same without the people there

And some of course have felt the ultimate pain
The loss of a loved one – never again
But Covid is an even worse thief
He doesn’t just take lives, he’s stolen grief
Taken away the power of gathering for relief
Yearning for a time when we can hug again
Human touch helping deal with the pain

So, we are left feeling like one hand clapping
Covid has been so strength sapping
Some of the things we will get back
Others – well we will always feel the lack

But there are many lessons we have learned
And many of them have been hard earned

I’ll share some now for a final reflection
Above all we’ve learned the power of human connection
We learned we are all part of a community
There’s value to be had in herd immunity
We learned to value those doing work that is essential
Humanity can’t be measured with a professional credential
And everyone should have the right to fulfil their potential
Leaders play an important part
And from now on you have to lead from the heart
We learned hero’s come in all shapes and sizes
And that life is really full of surprises

And with this thought then I’ll conclude
Yes, we learned the power of gratitude
One lost faith we’d create a future that just and fair
A society built on a duty to care
‪But Covid 19 won’t scare us straight‬‬‬‬‬
‪We won’t find a vaccine for fear or hate‬‬‬‬‬
We need to turn grief to actions‬
Create a community not factions‬
We need to build a world that’s better, not the same, not worse
And that will be the subject of my next verse

* ”Samsonian” – this would typically be “Herculean” but the idea of grieving smiles was shared by Samson Williams. I figured who needs Hercules when you have a Samson?

Be The Light

Our world seems stuck in the dead of night
Leaving us blinded, not knowing left from right
Told at the end of the tunnel there’s light
I can’t see it though I try with all my might
With hope remaining just out of sight
Am I too tired for this fight?

So how then can I find my way,
In the dark of night, no sign of day?
Unable to go out and play
Trying so hard just to be okay

Then the answer became so clear to me
If everything’s too dark for thee
And the future you just can’t foresee
And frankly you feel all at sea

Because the light at the tunnel’s not at the end
It’s not even just around that next bend
It’s there when you connect with a friend
It’s there when you put aside a feud
Or learn to show some gratitude
Realize you’re not suffering in solitude
Rather you’re part of a new multitude
Know you can get through this despite its magnitude
Stop thinking “my god we’re all screwed”
Be in the moment, lift your mood

Though the situation it seems stark
You be the light that cuts through the dark
Shine on the path as you embark
Make a difference, make a mark

And though there will be much you’ll miss
A warm embrace, a loved one’s kiss
There’ll still be moments of pure bliss
And know this one thing – you’ve got this!

Hello, my name is Cory

And here I am to tell my story
Sickness is my business, death my game
I rose very quickly from obscurity to fame
One moment no one seemed to care
The next it seemed I was everywhere

You and I are different, but not much
We both want the same things – connection, touch
You need these two to thrive
Me I need them to survive
That’s why you find it hard to stay isolated inside
You think you’re fighting me but human natures on my side
What you call connection I call contagion
Slip up during opening and soon I’ll be raging.

I don’t have a knife. I’m not like Mack
I’m way more subtle. A stealth attack
I was named in part after the year I was born
I like to fly – you could say I’m airborne
My hobby’s surfing
I love a good wave
Let’s see in the fall how many Hydroxychloroquine will save

I was born in the East, then flew to the West
Where you were too slow developing a test
I’m very small, I’m not malicious
Though some would say I can be vicious.
I’m very small, I’m not malicious
Though some would say I can be vicious.
See, I bear none of you ill will
Not those who survive or those I kill
And if you believe in intelligent design
Blame belongs to your lord, it isn’t mine

Just the thought of me gives people fright
I come in the day I come in the night
I choose my victims without rhyme or reason
Some vainly hope I’ll leave at the change of the season
But no, I’m here to stay
I have no reason to go away
And I will do what I’m going to do
I know you’re coming for me while I’m coming for you
Think of it as a game of cat and mouse
You’re perfectly safe – just don’t leave the house

Maybe I’ll just take your job
You think you can stop me with that little swab?
I’ll take the ones you hold most dear
In fact it helps me if you hold them near
It’s almost as if I feed off your fear.

A mask might give you some protection
As will extensive disinfection
But I have time, we’ve got nowhere to go
And when I catch you, you might not even know
Maybe I’ll just hitch a ride
Maybe you’ll feel sick then the symptoms subside
Chances are you’ll be okay
Although it’s impossible to say

And yes, it helps to keep six feet away
Dancing the social distance ballet
But whatever you do I won’t stop. I’m waiting
Biding my time while also mutating

And as you see death rates go higher and higher
You’ll realize I’m less like a wave, more like a fire
Consuming human souls instead of trees
Your politics enabling me to do so with ease
It seems for some it’s too much to ask
To just simply wear a mask
You’d rather broadcast your independence
Even as it puts me in the ascendance
I’ll just keep doing what I do best
Until you catch me like all the rest
Who didn’t want to keep their distance
Who present themselves as the new resistance
Yes, resist logic, resist science
Who see weakness in compliance

Me, I don’t care if you’re blue or red
But you should really care who ends up sick or dead
But you do you – go ahead fight this fight
And I’ll come for you in the day, in the dead of night


I don’t remember this from the travel guide
Last time we visited we walked side by side
Navigating the city hand in hand
It was always exciting to visit a new land

Sure the customs might seem strange
But it all made sense – hardly deranged
But here we are in this weird place
A place where they’ve banned face to face

They said the locals would welcome us with open arms
We’d heard so much about the area’s charms
But now all you have to do is sneeze
And they treat you like you have some awful disease

And perish the thought that you have a cough
All of a sudden they all back off
If I go outside I must wear a mask
Turns out on the beach you cannot bask

They say I must stand 6ft away
And can’t go shopping in the normal way
Only a few people allowed in each store
What used to be fun is now such a bore

The gyms are closed, the restaurants too
I was hoping to visit a museum or two
Oh what can this curious tourist do?
Doesn’t this all seem strange to you?

I’m sure it wasn’t like this when I was here last
Or perhaps I’m misremembering the past
The streets were so full, people got in the way
There was so much to do, not enough hours in the day

This now seems a poor choice for our vacation
Next year we’ll pick another destination
And then I come to the realization
I’ve not gone anywhere – this is my nation

And then it hits me here where I stand
We’ve all become tourists in our own land

John Brewer, poetry and covid

John Brewer: Until Covid hit my I’d confined my poetry to business conference summaries that I would perform at events. When Covid happened I decided to write about that.

Be The Light

I got in the habit of writing a poem for my colleagues every week, trying hard to produce something positive – which is often a struggle for me. One day a colleague said to me “I just wish I could see the light at the end of the tunnel” and this poem was born.

The Grief of the Crowd

This is the first and only poem ever crowdsourced on LinkedIn. I asked my network what they grieved most about Covid and undertook to translate their responses into verse. Most of the things are things they “miss” rather than “grieve” but it does reflect the moment quite well I think

Hello, My Name is Cory…

I wrote this in my head while walking the dog (with an occasional stop to take notes on my iPhone) so it took about 20 mins. It was originally in the third person. I let it sit overnight and then in the morning switched it to the first person which I think improved it greatly. Other than that I added a few lines a couple of months after I wrote it. There is a recording of me reciting this on my podcast Here Comes Everyone.

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Louise Winton
Louise Winton
3 years ago

Awesome! Thank you so much for expressing what so many of us are feeling!

3 years ago

I love these! Such a great way to express all that Covid means for us humans. I especially like “damn Covid for turning a human feature into a bug..”

john brewer
3 years ago
Reply to  Liane

Thanks Liane – that is one of my favourite lines though unfortunately the whole “feature not bug” meme has become a bit worn and my wife groans whenever she hears it.

Poetry and Covid-19 ARCHIVE (This website archives the over 1000 poems submitted by over 600 poets, and viewed by over 100,000 from over 125 countries during the Covid-19 pandemic, June 2020-June 2021). Thank you to all who took part in the Poetry and Covid project.

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