Love in the Time of COVID

A Chronicle of a Pandemic

Poetry, Video

A Recital of Poems 21 – Kim Shuck, Lance Henson, Hester Ullyart & Kirstie McKinnon

Two poems by Kim Shuck

Fiddlehead, beaded by Kim Shuck, photo credit Doug Salin

Unlockdown Poem

And here is where it must start
The rearticulation of the skeleton
Just the collecting of the phalanges
Will take some time
From the bones out
As though we meant it
Rinse the fear from our marrow
From dermis and
Spinal cord
Take with us
An understanding
Of the connections


Masked poem

Sunlight isn’t simple
Cutting shapes on the bedspread
Patrols like the feral
A solid tabby self
Shouldering a wind that will bring rain soon
It’s not a cure
I pick up one word after another
They aren’t cures either
We aren’t out of work our work
For now
Keeping each other well
A stone in each corner
A word
In each corner
Dancing prayer feet
We shift through the house like fretful tides
Like sunlight
Sometimes flashing code
Cloud and cloud and sun
The fern trees the
Wild grape
Pulled by unpractice
Flow to an unfamiliar high tide mark
And then draw back


Two poems by Lance Henson


Let us celebrate not what is human within us
But the other

Sister bee folding its flowers away from us
To live

Brother hawk watching us in its snowfall whitened feathers
On our window ledge

Grandmother moon holding us within herself
Over a still river

Grandfather wind whispering to our dreams outside
our locked and frightened windows

Let us celebrate not what is human within us

But the other…


Poet’s note: Tasoom is the Tsistsistas word for shadow and soul. derived from Hematasoomao immortal spiritual potential. In my ceremonial training as a Sundancer certain information is gifted, some of which is sacred and private information from the soul training of the painter(grandfather). Tasoom,the soul/shadow is a stemlike entity running alongside or within the spine. It lives separate from the body and mind and is the drinker of sacred knowledge. It is this place that healing gifts may be given the dancer. Medicines look at the supplicant from outside and inside and if they see a true gesture emanating from the dancer they gesture back, and the gifting is complete. The dancer carries the healing way for his or her lifetime.


It rains…

It rains … inside the air that is folded toward it … it sounds its knowing making the streets glisten and the fields open their coats
and the birds listening for winter fly through it …

It rains deepening the leaves of autumn into
Their mirroring soft singing …

And what has fallen in the rain quiets the fields

Lowering its prayer

Into the earth …


image by Hester Ullyart

My piano teacher just commented on my Instagram post
and the tree in the allotment is coming down by Hester Ullyart

My piano teacher just commented on my Instagram post
and the tree in the allotment is coming down

This is a lot for one small moment
eating leftovers from a cold mug in the kitchen with a tiny silver fork
I still have my coat on
I blame phones.

Think that’s why I’ve felt a kind of allergic tick in my throat
when I go near technology – recently
every time I get near the screen
it’s something else
and boom! the electric buzz wired into the grid
goes into overdrive
like the traitor guy in Jurassic park, sticky fingers
tapping in reckless futility at passcodes in the rain
– so degrading.
He ended up dead by flying poison spit. Just so you know.

no no I’m the flat body from that operating game
or the rod that tries to loop that buzzing red wire
like a kid’s ECG monitor, catching you out on the twists and turns
with an almighty bleep
or Fester in the Adam’s family
in the bath with a bulb in his mouth
as the radio drops in
look, still smiling

Lesley – my first piano teacher –
hi if you’re reading this
she looked after me sometimes too
I remember crying in a bunk bed about my cousin dying,
loud silent tears
he was 4, I was three
and her voice in the dark, surprising
‘it’s ok, cry as loud as you need’
not to worry about waking her daughter
I was worried about her daughter,
but more worried about William
and picturing my parents like a scene from a movie
with my uncle and aunty
by a tiny grave
and wondering what a hole in the heart looks like
now we all know

She was into quilling, Lesley
there were these tiny paper worlds all over the house
all neat, framed, rolled up into owls’ eyes and pastel patterns
strung from corners in simple spaces
must have taken hours
and patience
like practicing the piano, which I can’t say I did that well
I lack the discipline to be bad and hear it
does that tell a lack of faith?
I’m getting distracted, you can tell

The tree in the allotment
is coming down
mum sent a video
and what will they do
with all the invisible hands
the kids’ palm prints
that ever touched it
screaming victory
Block One Two Three Ally Ally In
or pressed foreheads close to the trunk
muttering to thirty
way too quickly
I guess we’re way past thirty now
some of us are ash too

but there’s still time to pick up the piano
I’ll start with Jelly on the Plate
that was the first song I took home
and see how it conducts this digital minefield
if it furls back into shape
a pattern I can handle
wibble wobble wibble wobble
Jelly on the Plate
do you know it? it’s a classic
three notes
that repeat
play as loud as I want
louder than the saws and the bleeps
when all around
is debris
childhood castles cut into blocks, paper chain lands
hosting chamber music,
fingers on keys
forever repeating
jolts rolled smooth into pictures
glued together with sap
from grown up hands



photo by Kirstie McKinnon

arc by Kirstie McKinnon

seaweed folded
tidelines carved
tui and korimako call
across the channel
you understand
the song carries over
cold sand on my thighs as I lie down
cold sand the length of a country
the sea a turbine of light
tang of brine
sealion and shark stay deep
what does this mean?
can a waif of seaweed hear
the korimako song and murmur
a reply?
the tide flows
sweet southerly smoothes
the tiny hairs of my face
like a mother
crescent moon wanders up
like a reasonable optimist




Lance Henson is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne nation of Oklahoma. A devout cultural activist who directs in Europe the only international poetry project that focuses on poets from endangered peoples. These poets are invited to lecture and read in Europe. An expat, he is recipient of the Ostana Literary Prize in Italy, awarded for his translations from his Cheyenne language to English. He is a grandfather in the southern Cheyenne Sundance, a painter of Sundancers, and a member of the Native American church.

Kirstie McKinnon lives, writes and surfs in East Coast Otago. Her poetry has appeared in Landfall, takahē, the Otago Daily Times and online at She has contributed poetry to, and coordinated the following exhibitions for the digital Cube Space in Dunedin Public Libraries City Library: The Fossils of Foulden Maar: creative responses; Antarctica Poetry; and CUMULUS: photography + poetry.

Kim Shuck is the 7th Poet Laureate of San Francisco Emerita. Her work is shouted on street corners, whispered to crows and appears in anthologies and journals in many places. Shuck is solo author of seven books, her latest is Deer Trails, from the City Lights Foundation and the next Exile Heart should soon be out from That Painted Horse Press.

Hester Ullyart is a UK born writer, actress, director and multi-disciplinary visual artist. Born in Humberside, Northern England, she currently lives and works in New Zealand where she is based in the port town of Lyttelton. Hester Ullyart trained at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Performed plays include ‘The Ballad of Paragon Station’ (Winner ‘Stellar Outstanding Content’ NZ Fringe, nominated ‘Best in Fringe’,‘Outstanding Solo Performance’) Hull Truck, **** Edinburgh Festival, Heads Up Festival) and ‘Paragon Dreams’ (Hull Truck, *****Yorkshire Post). Her poetry is published in Wild Pressed’s 2019 Young Poets ‘Dark Animals’Catalyst Literary Arts Journal No. 17 ‘Socially Distant’. She was a finalist for the NZ Poetry Slam Finals 2020. She is appearing on NZ tv screen’s as new lead Rosa in series two of ‘One Lane Bridge’ later in the year. Follow her at @hesterullyartpoetry on Instagram for hot off the press poems straight from the heart.

Poetry Instagram @hesterullyartpoetry



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