Three Pandemic Poems




I wrote these in mid-2020, the Yeats one after Cheltenham races.

Covid-19: after W B Yeats


This is no virus for old men. The young,

As if immune, relax in one another’s

Arms. It is the elderly for whom it lies

In wait – us dying generations – us paltry

Things in tattered coats: jam-packed in

Vast spectator-crowded stands, crammed

Into trains and cars and planes, breathing

Each other’s dwindling gasps, too obsolete,

Too stuck in unhygienic ways, to isolate.

I wash my hands of all of it for I have come

Unto the very epicentre of bacterium.



Covid-19: after Dylan Thomas


I see you wraiths of autumn in your care home.

Befuddled and unvisited, staring at faded

Yesterdays, demented in your chairs.

We are the sons your futures were,

Guilty as charged, the negligent deniers:

O hear the carers coughing as they tend.



Covid-19: after T S Eliot

April is the cruellest month

Between the face mask

And the long-sleeved gown,

Between the visor

And the visage,

Between the disinfectant

And the President,

Between the vaccine

And the vulnerability

Falls the virus.

Between the pangolin

And the pandemic,

Between the aerosols

And the antibodies,

Between the testing

And the tracing,

Between the droplet

And the lockdown

Falls the virus.

Do not resuscitate

Do not resuscitate

Do not resuscitate

This is the way the world ends

Not in my own nice warm bed

But in a ventilator.

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