Love in the Time of COVID

A Chronicle of a Pandemic

Poetry, Video

A Recital of Poems – Michael Hall, Stephen Oliver, Siobhan Harvey, Pris Campbell & Mary Cresswell

Turbulence by Michael Hall

This is your
Captain speaking

I hope you are
Be able to make out

For flying
The beauty of

You should
Remain

Instructions at all times
We should have

Sit back and enjoy
The seatbelt sign

At 30,000 feet
Mount Taranaki

On your right-hand side
I hope

Thank you
For choosing

Tea or Coffee
Soon

 

Fig Tree by Stephen Oliver

Remembering Christina from Baden-Baden on Hydra

————-Nothing seemed significant about it
but this appeared to me over and over again,
there set in a recess on the hillside off the track
leading up from the harbour cafes and shops on Hydra—
one fig tree, early winter, late November, 1979.

————-I hold this as memory I carried
with me from an arched, Venetian stone bridge over
some small stream or ravine along the coast,
to where she resided; either coming back, or going
over that ancient bridge, late in the evening, with the
German girl, she clutching a bottle of Demestica,
as she stumbled, nearly tripped—

————-who read my mind as I read hers
later on into the night. ‘Now you have everything you
want,’ she whispered to me.

The hum at the back of the head making of it an
amphitheatre for voices, echoes, oracles. I again recall
that fig tree, standing there by the track, on the
island of Hydra, the memory of my night with her,
yearningly recent, reverberating within me as I passed
the fig tree to where I had stayed amongst
the white washed villas high up on that mountainous
island—

————-witness to how my senses had
vibrated like the strings of a finely tuned lute at the
back of my head in one stilled, sensual moment,
as I paused, and passed on by.

 

This poem first appeared in my memoir: Unposted, Autumn Leaves/A Memoir In Essays, Greywacke Press, Canberra 2021. More here.

 

My Ghosts Rise Up in Lockdown by Siobhan Harvey

In Lockdown, they rise up, free
at last to roam the dim corridors

and empty rooms of home. My mind
is a place as forsaken as the wild

earth, forest, foreshore and ocean
forgotten by those in isolation. Here

my ghosts burst their bubbles, return
to me all I’ve long sought to misplace:

broken relationships with parents, always
distant, always pained; tortured lovers

who summon the past in fitful bursts,
punches to the gut; the countless lost

ancestors I’ve never known. Breath
on the back of the neck, they are; blood

collecting at open wound. Cut like
time, my restless ghosts distance me

socially, while they gather en masse,
letting sterile bodies – hollow eyes,

rotten skins, weeping sores – loose
to the light. The meaningful divide

between experience and memory is loss,
they whisper, as I fix them with chemicals,

deaden them to taxidermic display. But
they safeguard their alert-system, become

as animated as silent film stars, viscera close
to the surface, until they float again across

the negative of my mind. Outside winter arrives
to set us solid, as days of doing nothing turn

us harder than the heart, and I become another
kind of ghost, wretch of all I remember, all I forget.

 

Tall Tales free verse by Pris Campbell

The prince is having an affair,
has grown fat, screams
at Cinderella when dinner’s
not to his liking. Her glass
slippers are broken; the mice
with their pumpkin disappeared.

She wonders why her fairy godmother
got her into this mess–the cinders
were better.

She tries to step out of this fairy tale
but thorns cover the path.
A witch crosses the moon
and a big bad wolf howls in the night,
hinting of other tales gone wrong, too.

 

404 NOT FOUND by Mary Cresswell

click here and say farewell to boring love
 I will show you juicy, hot riproaring love!

You go high-tech, I’ll give you what you need:
select attachment, not just random whoring love.

I guarantee a night time hot and heavy
enough to make you quit your snoring, love!

Down and dirty across the floor we’ll roll
like alley cats with ripping clawing love.

And will you think less of me tomorrow?
No, no no! you know that we’re exploring love.

Nothing will erase tonight. My memory stick
is all you’ll ever need for storing love.

 

The poems of Pris Campbell have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. Nominated seven times for a Pushcart, the Small Press has published eight collections of her poetry and a ninth comes out in March 2022. She also writes short forms and just this year took first place in the Marlene Mountain monoku contest and the Sanford Goldstein tanka competition.. A former Clinical Psychologist, sailor and bicyclist until sidelined by ME/CFS in 1990, she makes her home with her husband in the Greater West Palm Beach, Florida.

Mary Cresswell is a poet and science editor. Born in Los Angeles, she moved to New Zealand in 1970. Her poetry has appeared in New Zealand, Australian, Canadian, US and UK literary journals. Recent poetry collections include Fish Notes (Canterbury University Press 2015), Field Notes (Mākaro Press 2017) and Body Politic (The Cuba Press 2020). 

 

Michael Hall lives in Dunedin. Recent poems of his have appeared in Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2022NZ ListenerThe Otago Daily Times, and 1964: Mountain Culture Aotearoa.

 

 

Siobhan Harvey is the author of eight books, including the poetry and creative nonfiction collection, Ghosts (Otago University Press, 2021), which was long-listed for the 2022 Mary & Peter Biggs Poetry Award. She was awarded the 2021 Janet Frame Literary Trust Award for Poetry, 2020 New Zealand Society of Authors Peter & Dianne Beatson Fellowship, 2019 Kathleen Grattan Award for a Sequence of Poems, 2019 Robert Burns Poetry Prize and 2016 Write Well Award (Fiction, US). Presently she’s a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at The Centre for Creative Writing, Auckland University of Technology.  

 

Stephen Oliver is an Australasian poet of fourteen poetry collections, seven chapbooks and one memoir. His poems have been translated into German, Spanish, Chinese and Russian. He lived in Australia for twenty years and currently lives in New Zealand. His work has appeared in Writing To The Wire Anthology, edited by Dan Disney and Kit Kelen, University of Western Australia Publishing, 2016; The Australian Prose Poem Anthology, edited by Cassandra Atherton and Paul Hetherington, Melbourne University Press, 2020; Poetry New Zealand Yearbook, edited by Tracy Slaughter, Massey University Press, 2021. His newest books include Unposted, Autumn Leaves / A Memoir In Essays, Greywacke Press, Canberra, 2021.

 

 

 

 

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