Three Poems

By Clare Stewart

Lockdown 2020

My one piece of exercise. Orbiting the houses, rotating a local circuit. Winding home to my old loom, the interior merry-go-round, I pirouette towards the spinning-wheel that pricks my bubble, sleep in til eleven, refuse to listen to news, the stresses that wind up. Am I wrong to be enjoying this today?

Pulled-down sleeves glove my hands. I land in a flying spin, circling roundabout, twisting my unfastened hair. I’d have thought, by this time, I’d have been yearning for something, to have loosened screws.

I drift-sleep while the brambles knit, the braids unravel, keep myself imprisoned. Whisked by longing, people headed for the beaches.

My life has a small compass. Inside my homeshell, I’m unravelling, too safe.

Would like to be spinning out of orbit.

Am I stir crazy yet?

Spiralling in control
Tornado or
I’m uncurling
Unworming my way

a far too controlled unspiralling

My life has such a tight winding tether

I wish, I wish I could know how it feels to be free

Protected or imprisoned in this round turret? Can I unknot, climb down my own corkscrew hair? People headed for the beaches.

Keeping them at social distance, I untangle today’s embroidery, spooling the strands up small. Branches twine round the windows, rolling surf-waves coil round the bend. I’ve become unused to the speed of cars.

Unfurl my long twisting hair, unpick my looping silks, hack at tendrilling briars. Do I really wish I could know how it feels to be free? Can I survive untangled from my small compass? People headed for the edges of the land, the ends of their tethers, then lassoed home, boomeranged, vortexed backwards to paralysis.

Lockdown Neighbour

I can see what she saw in him.
Still some teenage charm
Tall. Pressed back box-shoulders.

Locked down
he’s got himself a Project.
Theatre for a single spectator
enacted over the quiet weeks.
Painstaking de-rusting and re-painting of tall metal garden gates.

Is this play interesting?
The careful character development
the inching-forward plot
the intriguing question:-
what’s he listening to
Heidi-plaits headphones?

Absorbed in the measured telling of his tale, this actor.
The careful scene-setting; placement of
the chair at the right height;
his protective gloves;
the patient drying times.
In the second act, some action –
alerted by sirens, he’s watching up the road to see what’s going on;
the friendly loud chat
with passing listless neighbours
two metres apart;
the plot-twist of her approach
mimes quick-tipping-hand enquiry about tea;
and the willing good natured patience of him
speaks loudly his complex inner world.

Is this play interesting?

Infinitely fascinating
slow TV
anti-drama garden-gate soap
I will watch for weeks to come.


Don’t wanna hear any news at all
Cocooned at home
Leave me alone

Keep the world away don’t wanna know
Safe at home
Leave me alone

Don’t turn on the telly don’t wanna see
Alone at home
Leave me alone

Leave me alone
Cocooned at home
Leave me alone
Alone at home
Leave me alone
Safe at home
Leave me alone

I think this poem expresses that thing when it all gets too much. I was so angry and fed up, I couldn’t even give it a title!!

Clare’s poetry themes include Catholic guilt, family, childhood, feminism, feelings, walking, observations of life.  Also Catholic guilt.  Sometimes formal, sometimes free structure to produce serious, flippant, funny and sad poems.

Lockdown 2020: I can’t quite remember why now, but the Fibonacci sequence has been a thing in Nottingham poetry community over the last year or so. Fibonacci is a mathematical sequence that describes or explains the formation of certain natural spirals, such as the nautilus seashell and the design of sunflower seeds in the head of the flower. This poem starts with 55 words in the first stanza, then, using the mathematical sequence, spirals in to one word in the stanza and spirals out again to 55. The poem references Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel and Penelope, three mythological women who were trapped at home.

Lockdown Neighbour: This poem is fairly self-explanatory, I think. Even though I work from home, I had to change workroom to enhance social distancing, and noticed this little drama over the road. I found my neighbour’s patient working methods really fascinating.

Untitled: I think this poem expresses that thing when it all gets too much. I was so angry and fed up, I couldn’t even give it a title!!

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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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