‘Thomas and Lowell made themselves the metaphor of their poems’



I am myself the quarantine.

The garden spreads children

In summer clothes like sores


On a lip. The world quivers,

All arrows locked and loaded

To overflow. I don’t quite explode.



Writing has never been bomb squad

To the great squatting missiles below

Our skins; you don’t avoid


Volcanic eruption with lava postcards.

Words hurl microbial aerosol

Across the lawn to sicken, invade.



I’m only paper, metaphor, inky myth.

What’s made isn’t mine or shrapnel to own,

Contains pandemics in its sly mists.


Controlled explosions like punking steam?

All dreams are engines to the minefield

Mind we try to civilly distance from, or collide in.



We’ve died in rhetorical verse too often to see

The trees burst from it like shells out of

Burial mounds; all’s fecundity, even dross,


Drivel, moss, or fungal rot. All personal works

Surround me, yet extend, like vines on branches

Furl in forests to the furthermost interior animals.



Go out, stay in, be free to cower or to hide; release.

Impersonated by creation make a ruptured fortress

Of thy heart. Cauterise the world-wound’s founding


Art. Sun extends its allegorical medicine to kill

Viral demons on our burnt lawns. Families intersect,

Breaking stricter laws like magicians will taboos.




No decision today will lift the tension in the busy groves;

Cool hands sterilised, we’ve handed authority over to science

To judge on stony grounds. The hottest zone is inside ourselves,


With stocked salt, rice, ordinance unexplored on canny shelves.

The poem is the panther in the shade waiting for the gazelle.

She tenses before acting, like all powers, in fateful pause.



25 April, London, England



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