What need of poets

What need of poets when pyres are lit
On sidewalks – shall I say ‘let us go then,
You and I, when the evening is spread out
Against the sky’ and patients no longer
Etherized are strewn in our way? What need
Of imagery for a people starved
Of oxygen? Will metaphor bridge the
Chasm between the living and those
Unable to breathe? Should I not, instead,
Stake out my ground, and as a signpost might,
Point and direct the onlooker to parks
Abloom with pyre-beds, and flames that feed
Oxygen-giving trees with their dead? When
The iron hearts of crematoriums surrender
The poet needs must accept defeat. No mere
Broken heart melting with pity that still
Beats in my wordless body can compete


Fanfare for all the helping hands

The lilies, like a brass band, march across
The living room, trumpeting their deliciousness
In brazen tones. This year the arch of
Seduction spans seas and souls, bringing
Love in pressurised litres, texts, and zoom – no
Lyrical love songs, no dulcet tones. I hear
The amaltas like a choir over a billion strong
Thundering in my heart, and in my ear
Blasts this unprecedented song, this
Unbridled declaration of the sweetness
That lies at the core. Louder than hate
And evil and maliciousness, prouder
Than the sentries guarding death’s door,

Uneasy Lies the Head that Wears the Corona

It isn’t just the my right eyelid twitches

Or that sleep is a rumour started by people

Who could probably be found snoring standing

Up or in the middle of lunch or by the roadside

In ditches. It isn’t even that I don’t enjoy

Making Nonograms fifteen by fifteen in bed

At 2am or 4 or somewhere in between. It’s also

Not a huge deal that that my eyes get heavy and 

I sometimes collapse headfirst into a meal. It’s

Just that sleep is supposed to knit the raveled sleeve

Of care and maybe its twiddling the knitting needles

Over its thumbs because it can’t find the wool 

Of the lamb that is worried threadbare.

Dearly Beloved

We are gathered here in spirit and in

Spirit only. The body of death eludes us

Now as it promises to do after the 

Holding close denied the heart. This

Holding apart of love and death, this

Mourning denied the touch of breath,

This burying of presence, this closing

Of the eyes howsoever brief, this 

Standing before the burning pyres

Of the cleaved body of grief is gathered

Here, in our empty hands, dearly beloved,

Gathered here. Our empty hands. 


– not a number you associate with 

The age of the dead. Four hundred – not a 

Measure of kilometres you think of as lying 

Ahead. Hundreds of thousands – an amount

That exceeds the space in my mind, so many

Hearts beating that when one of them burst, even

Its silence seems impossible to find. How do we

Claim to think of ourselves as one, a number

So invisible that we may never know its kind.

How will we account for fares unrefunded,

Trains unboarded, homes unreached, the lives

Discounted, the peace unbreathed, the pity

Unspoken. One, a number divisible only by itself

On every step of every long march home 

Lies broken.

The Measure of Debt

How sweetly sleep the tree-lined streets

That guide the city’s weary. Unbearably

Light their burden tonight, the thin-soled

Steps of the unchosen in flight. How sweetly 

Scented and cleanly airy the lone highways

Under the cool moon’s light, their painted lines

Barely marking the grime of thousands of

Footprints crossing the white. How sweetly 

Flows the river blue through the city as it used

To do, rippling our endless thirst for beauty

That is our civilizational right. Spilt milk shared

By animals and men who bend their mouths

To the dark asphalt, sunrise placing of hunger’s

Hope mark the tar six feet apart. It used to be

That the beauty of death was that all it asked

Was six feet of ground. It used to be we kept 

In sight the measure of debt owed to Beauty’s


 What do the Icelandic do without their pools?

When things get tricky the Icelandic aren’t too picky

They stay indoors, line up at stores,

Do their chores and mop their floors,

Report their symptoms if they start feeling peaky

Work from home and stay out of schools but

What do the Icelandic do without their pools??

Rumour has it they can’t live without them

They’re essential for the locals to be able to

Keep their wits about them. Babies and mothers,

Athletes, newly wed brides, and nuns, among others,

Philosophers, doctors, farmers, and fools 

What do the Icelandic do without their pools?!

No soaking in the hot tubs, no water-jet back rubs,

No gossip with swimsuited friend, no kids splashing 

In the shallow end, no lobster-hued legs as you go

From the forty degree hot pot to sit in the snow

No cloud of steam on shoulders bare, no dipping

Underwater to melt the icicles in your hair. No 

Resolving your traumas by having a good soak,

Pandemics are one thing, but is this a joke?!

Do  they raise their arms to the skies and stare

Wildly about, smother a scream and stifle a shout?

Do they refuse to eat, put down their tools? I feel 

Their stress, their anguish and tension, and thus 

I seek an answer to this most pertinent question:

How do they stay Viking strong and keep their cools?

What do the Icelandic do without their pools?!

On reading that the water of the Ganga is clean enough to drink again

They say the water of the holy river 

Is clean enough now for people to drink. They

Would have us believe that cleansing it

Is actually much more important than 

We think. That the blood in my veins runs

Thicker, that the life it gives burns quicker,

That the trail we leave is slicker than a burst

Oil tanker, more life-giving than the bloodless

Bodies that no longer feed the divine demands

Of the river. Maybe it is. Maybe tributaries

And streams collect our mortal remains, our

Little dirty dreams, immersed in our fossil-fueled

Caves, no unclogged channel that drains our

Over-flowing hearts. That holy river has its own

Source, it doesn’t need our bodies but it asks

Them of us that it may run its course. Death and the

River are reluctantly parted, the more we die, the

Less we understand how all this started. And we, 

Who knows where hope springs, who knows 

What tomorrow brings. All we can see is this 

Water and this blood run together unconsecrated 

In this unprecedented flood.

For Ashley, Aswathy, and all those sending food to the unhoused on the long road home

You can tell you’re home because they feed you.

Bowls and platters filled in love fried and sautéed and

Curried by hand each spice and grain and leaf 

Chosen with care because you’re home and they need you

To know how good it is to have you in the circle

Of their arms, out of harms way. You could say

That this recent splurge of breads and cakes

Exotic recipes, tender meats, and aromatic

Bakes is a circling of arms about ourselves, 

A reaching up into neglected cupboards to

Shake a little love from tins on our shelves.  Such

A strange thing, food. Hastily wrapped

Meals, made by strangers for nameless strangers

Trapped between the leaving and the returning

So many unhoused each one unknown. Such a

Strange thing, food, delivered in packets,  

Hundreds at a time, carrying the promise of home.

Courage #9 – Still Life: A lockdown poem

The trick lies in the highlights
You set them in strong. Pure
Dazzling bright whites. To shoulder
The weight of the darks. Take care
To register what you see only. Not
What you know is there. The shape
Of all seen through each, shapes
The sense of all.
Stillness lies in the eye of the beholder.
Things move apart to come together again.
The beauty is all in the transitions
The glow the shimmer the shine the glitter
The overlay of time on space. And when
Memory is all there is to work from
There is still life still colour still observance
Still courage in grace.