Two Poems

John Short


What once was lawn is meadow,
dandelions and outlaw grass.
Pigeon mafia box off breadcrumbs;
sparrows and unseasonal robins
hop hungry on the touchline.

Defiant sapling full of life
stakes a claim like border shifts
that steal a march on daylight,
surprises after winter’s inattention:
blind lethargy behind curtains.

In lockdown there’s time to care
for Azaleas now alive in pots,
some flower-clump I cannot name;
the appearance of butterflies,
rose explosions, pink and yellow.


Old rules drew lines in sand:
the pub, now half the terrace
is no-go land for smokers
lest lungs be compromised
yet hang the social distancing.

Strategies concocted overnight;
Larkin’s pessimism eclipsed,
made almost safe and innocent
by this dictator virus dealing
dystopias of fashionable masks.

Amidst confusion, market folk
are milling; bring goods to trade,
risk old school sales in person
but soon it will be mandatory
a mobile app to purchase drinks.

John Short has appeared recently in One Hand Clapping, The Lake and Zingara Poetry. His debut pamphlet Unknown Territory (Black Light Engine Room) was published in June. He blogs at Tsarkoverse.

The first poem was written a couple of months ago and the second is more recent. I went up to Ormskirk (three miles away) on the train for the Thursday market, walked around, bought a book of poems by Philip Larkin in the charity bookshop and took the photograph below.

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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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