Health. Advice. Following earlier government guidelines on tackling Covid19, this poem looks forward to better times whilst documenting loss and sorrow.
Better Late Than Never remembers a time before lockdown when chances were taken.
Overview: Lying flat, seeing over the top of the world
The view from here is jagged, spiked, a rise fall rise
Some of us go out in fear, others in hope, others not at all
Some stay in with the random swipe, the sudden blow, the curled fist.
Symptoms: A dryness in the throat, a sudden spasm takes hold
Light headed, heading bed-wards, sheets bunched and furled
Something tastes like nothing, nothing comes of nothing,
Heading to oblivion without a familiar face to sign off to
Prevention: Stay away, stay apart, don’t touch me
Smear your hands with alcohol rub; breathe hotly in your mask
Wash and wash and wash until it comes off, the first layer of skin
The new quiet, like sitting in an aviary, fluttering dry fingers.
Treatment: Shield your loved ones, expand with hope
Where you can, return to the streets safely; reclaim spaces long denied
This is not only the air we breath and the air we expel
This is everywhere we go and everything we are. Take heart.
Better Late Than Never
Wild flowers grow beyond our house
And on the Ridge is an old bandstand
On summer nights back in the day
Lovers walked there and held hands.
The sound of music rolled across the place
Not like in films, with verdant grassy mounds
Lush landscapes indicating desire
But rolling, nonetheless, like waves of lust.
It’s not a long walk from here to there
We’ve done it many times before, weekends
Usually the afternoons, roast dinner full
But never after dark because it becomes
A place of creatures, scuttling and rare
A place to stay away from and avoid.
Its not the sort of walk you’d want to walk
But last night for some reason I don’t know
We took it on ourselves to see the Ridge.
We stepped across the rabbit holes and stones
And stumbled slightly on the grassy path
We couldn’t see a thing besides the torch
And then we reached the place where time ago
The music used to sound to beat the band.
I looked at you and then you looked at me
The evening light was wicked in your eye.
You took my hand and kissed me in the dark
And I could hear the music start to play
We probably went further than we should
We came home together ruffled and awry.
Then suddenly the curtains closed
And night, a long night, fell.
We didn’t go again but still we knew
It’s better late than never anyway.
I write short fiction and poetry. I’m published online, in print, and been placed in regional/ national poetry competitions. I write for online arts & culture journals. I wrote (now teach) the creative writing degree at Leeds Arts Uni. I teach postgrads about making writing part of a creative practice. I’ve just finished my PhD – research interests writing, art, power & normalcy – and I’m a fan of post-humanist theory.
My stories rarely have endings because- why tie it down? My fiction tends to deal with the unseen, unexpected, off-screen moments when everything changes and no one’s quite sure how, or what the consequences may be. My poetry draws on the times and places I grew up in, on working class culture and on various ways of loving and being. I write a lot about other writers, and artists, especially in my online reviews and interviews. I’ve written for Corridor8, Printmaking Today, The State of the Arts and Structo magazine amongst others. I work a lot with visual artists, musicians and performers and this informs my teaching of creative wring and my own writing practice. I take photographs of urban landscapes, which have been exhibited, and I use these visual prompts to make more words.