Chris Kinsey’s poem ‘The Lazy Poet’s Day’

British poet Chris Kinsey has had five collections of poetry published. Most recently, From Rowan Ridge, was commissioned by Fair Acre Press in 2019. These poems are mainly concerned with the Mid-Wales border environment where she and her ancestors have dwelt.

This poem seems to capture the malaise that many of us felt during lockdown. Writers in particular seemed to be suffering writer’s block, and it’s great to be able to laugh about the lack of productivity – a release in this poem!

 

The Lazy Poet’s Day

 

The good poet is up blogging

on the virtues of being

at her desk by 5.00 a.m.

 

This lazy poet sleeps on until

her greyhounds land. All three

set like giant pieces of jigsaw.

 

The good poet races through

her Morning Pages chasing a shoal

of dreams, obsessions and ideas.

 

The lazy poet snuggles down until

a crescendo of dream-driven paws

pound her into rising.

 

Out in the gold-grey currency of dawn,

under the unspent moon, the hounds

sniff rime, mark squirrels catapulting

 

off whippy twigs. The lazy poet

spins with the pin-wheeling sun

through pines.

 

By now, the good poet is consulting

her spreadsheet and posting poems

through open submissions windows.

 

The lazy poet lags – a woodpecker

brands a silver birch, she sight-surfs

on a kingfisher’s back, calls the hounds.

 

The good poet permits herself one well-

deserved strong coffee. The lazy one

has three, a ton of toast and then

 

fires up her computer. The good poet’s

checklist is a quiver of ticks. She has

a brood of drafts.

 

The lazy one creates a word doc and waits

at the blank page. Outside winter gnats

do not wander lonely as a cloud but compete.

 

Keys depress. Characters form.

She clicks onto Zoom, joins friends

to practise Tai Chi and wonders

 

if wu wei, action-without-action,

works better for poetry

than it does for housework?

Rachel Spence’s Poem ‘8.13am, 18 March 2021, Ludlow’

Rachel Spence is an international contributor who grew up on the Gower Coast, in south Wales. Now based between Ludlow, London and Venice, she has published one collection Bird of Sorrow (Templar) and two pamphlets Furies (Templar) and Call and Response (Emma Press, 2020). Poems have also appeared in The London Magazine, PN Review and the Forward Anthology 2019.

This poem is a kind of ode to the quiet pleasures of an older father and mother. Those small pleasures are things we learned to embrace during the last year of pandemic.

 

You can also read the poem in an accessible MS Word document here: 8.13am, 18 March 2021, Ludlow.

Vanessa Napolitano’s Poem ‘Landlocked’

Here is another international submission! Vanessa Napolitano lives with her husband and daughter in Yorkshire and works with international students. Her poems can currently be found in the exhibit ‘Maternochronics’, the anthology ‘Songs of Love & Strength’ and in the online journal ‘Freeverse Revolution’. She loves to read poetry and eat ice-cream.

During the lockdown, most of us have done a lot of reassessing and thinking about the past. This poem describes a pandemic birthday, tinged with memories of other times, a haunting that is only emphasized by the clever use of form.

You can also access the poem in accessible Word document here: Landlocked.

Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto’s poem ‘I Will Let You Know When I Find Something’

This international submission is from Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto (@ChinuaEzenwa) who hails from from Owerri-Nkworji in Nkwerre, Imo state, Nigeria and grew up between Germany and Nigeria. This poem seemed to speak to how during lockdown we began to contemplate each other and even scrutinize each other more closely.

Chinua has a Chapbook, The Teenager Who Became My Mother, via Sevhage Publishers. He was runner-up in Etisalat Prize for Literature, Flash fiction, 2014, and won the Castello di Duino Poesia Prize for an unpublished poem, 2018 which took him to Italy. He was the recipient of New Hampshire Institute of Art’s 2018 Writing Award, and New Hampshire Institute of Art’s 2018 scholarship to the MFA Program. In 2019, he was the winner of Sevhage/Angus Poetry Prize and second runner-up in 5th Singapore Poetry Contest. He won the First Prize in the Creators of Justice Literary Award, Poetry category, organized by International Human rights Art Festival, New York, USA, 2020. His works have appeared in Lunaris Review, AFREADA, Poet Lore, Massachusetts Review, Frontier, Palette, Malahat Review, Southword Magazine, Vallum, Mud Season Review, Salamander, Strange Horizons, Anmly, Ake Review Up the Staircase Quarterly , Spectacle Magazine, Ruminate and elsewhere.

Also please see this MS Word accessible version: I Will Let You Know When I Find Something. 

Dermot Bolger’s ‘Poem During a Pandemic for Patricia Lynch’

This is another international submission with a moving story behind it. We are very honored to host Dermot Bolger’s ‘Poem During a Pandemic for Patricia Lynch.’

Dermot Bolger is an Irish poet, novelist and playwright who received the 2021 O’Shaughnessy Poetry Award. His fourteen novels include The Journey Home. His debut play, The Lament for Arthur Cleary, received the Samuel Beckett Prize. Recent plays for Ireland’s National Theatre, the Abbey, include his adaption of Joyce’s Ulysses.

Dermot explains about this poem: ‘The poem is about writing a night during the pandemic and the theme set me thinking about my walks. In Dublin it is impossible to walk anywhere without passing a writer’s house (my back garden quite literally backs on the back garden of one of Joyce’s childhood homes) and one house I pass most nights once belonged to a very famous but now forgotten Irish children’s writer, Patricia Lynch. During the pandemic I wrote a poem about her one night when stopped outside her home.’

Poem During a Pandemic for Patricia Lynch

(Author of “The Turf Cutter’s Donkey”, 1894-1972)

 

It required a pandemic to cause this birdsong

To sound as vibrant here as when greenfinches sang

In the fields that once besieged this secluded road

Where you quietly wrote books for four decades.

 

You are all but forgotten now, but I always pause

To gaze at what was once your book-filled abode.

Your garden a riot of flowers, a weekly shopping list

Of sensible provisions phoned into the local grocer

To arrive in late afternoon, after you finished writing

And patiently answered letters from young readers,

Whose parents were blithely unaware of how you first

Came to Dublin to write reports for Sylvia Pankhurst’s

Staunch communist paper, The Workers’ Dreadnought,

Or how your husband, R. M. Fox, was upstairs typing

Defiant books about Lenin, Mao Zedong and Jim Larkin.

 

During the lockdown birdsong became the only sound

On the streets as children learnt lexicons of dangers;

Infection rates, social distancing, phased lockdowns:

Phrases becoming as woven into their consciousness

As your book titles were for a generation who adored

The Bookshop on the Quay or The Old Black Sea Chest.

 

No plaque exists to you, but you might feel embarrassed

By any fuss in this deluxe enclave where you struggled

In old age; your husband gone, your novels starting

To drift out of print, your garden unmanageable

With your arthritic hands. Cocoa and cherry brandy

Became occasional treats that helped steer you to sleep,

As your house, unchanged since the 1930s, fell apart.

The modernist suntrap rooms where you embarked

On fictional voyages started to ship water and capsize,

Until a puppeteering family rescued you from loneliness,

To bestow a miraculous final chapter to your life.

 

So perhaps it was apt, amid the birdsong of lockdown,

That while no hint of your physical presence pervaded

This street that felt as hushed as in any ghostly tale,

I possessed an eerie sense when passing neatly parked

Audi SUVs, sensible second cars and E-class Mercs.

I knew that my sensation of being watched was illusory

But I felt reluctant to look back, lest I discovered

A turf cutter’s donkey patiently standing on the corner,

Its reins held by a spirited young girl and her brother,

While an old lady in a headscarf beckoned them forth

From this street on which they were first conjured

By a writer robbed of all sense of home in childhood,

Who rediscovered it here with the man who loved her.

 

Dermot Bolger

Christiana Olomolaiye’s poem ‘Covid Love’

Here’s a Covid love poem in this international submission from Christiana Olomolaiye, a UK poet who performs nationally and at zoom open mics in America and Ireland. She is part of the Barn Poets, Somerset and Corsham Poetry Group in Wiltshire. Her monologue “Another Talking Head” was featured in BBC Radio Bristol. She is working on her first collection.

Also please see this MS Word accessible version: Covid Love. 

Alwyn Marriage’s poem ‘Theft and restitution’

Here’s an international submission from a poet based in the UK. Alwyn Marriage‘s twelve books include poetry, non-fiction and fiction. Formerly a philosophy lecturer and CEO of two international NGOs, she’s Managing Editor of Oversteps Books and research fellow at Surrey University. Having suffered covid, longcovid and covid bereavement, her latest poetry collection, Pandora’s Pandemic, chronicles those long hard months and her joyful return to health.

Also see this accessible word document version: Theft and restitution

Travis McClerking’s poem ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin Fever’

The pandemic period has been a time when our communities have been demanding justice, including campaigns like #BlackLivesMatter. This next poems is a clever play on the 1852 anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, posing difficult questions about racist violence that still remains in America post-slavery.

Travis McClerking is a Sophomore at OSU majoring in English, who was  introduced to poetry through competitive slams. He continues to develop his craft in the famous open mics held at Kafe Kerouac. He pays tribute to his high school teacher Dr. Sidney Jones and the Columbus native, Hanif Abdurraquib, as his biggest influences.

Also see this accessible version in MS Word: McClerking Uncle Tom’s Cabin Fever

Angela Acosta’s poem ‘One Year In’

Many poets in Ohio are writing about the uncertainty brought about by the pandemic, and Angela Acosta is no different in this poem ‘One Year In.’ Angela Acosta is a PhD student in Iberian Studies at The Ohio State University. She returned to writing poetry in English and Spanish during the pandemic to document her experiences and write alongside the Spanish women writers whose creative lives she uncovers in her research.

You can also read the poem in this accessible word document: Submission Dwelling During Pandemic[69]