Palewell Press’s second anthology of poetry and prose brings together a global set of writers, sharing their experiences of Covid-19, lockdown, the pandemic, losing track of time, a reprieve for nature, and their hopes for the future.
This anthology shares worldwide responses to the pandemic, from Yan Li’s testament to suffering in China; through Joseph Kafala of Sierra Leone’s Center for Memory and Reparations; Iranian-born Sholeh Wolpé in California; María Cristina Azcona, President of the International Forum for Literature and Culture of Peace in Latin America; Simon Lichman in Jerusalem, working for peace between Israeli and Palestinian communities; many UK-based human rights advocates: Dima Mekdad, Hasan Kahya, Anna Maria Mickiewicz, Nasrin Parvaz, Aydin Mehmet Ali, Taffy Nyawanza, Meltem Arikan, Shanta Acharya; and me!
Thank you to Camilla Reeve for accepting my poems.
They have their stratagems too, though they can’t move. They know their parts. Like invalids long reconciled To stillness, they do their work through others. They have turned the world To their own account by the twisting of hearts.
What do they have to say and how do they say it? In the library At night, or the sun room with its one Curled thriller by the window, something Is going on, You may suspect, that you don’t know of. Yet they
Need you. The time comes when you pick one up, You who scoff At determinism, the selfish gene. Why this one? Look, already the blurb Is drawing in Some further text. The second paragraph
Calls for an atlas or a gazetteer; That poem, spare As a dead leaf’s skeleton, coaxes Your lexicon. Through you they speak As through the sexes A script is passed that lovers never hear.
They have you. In the end they have written you, By the intrusion Of their account of the world, so when You come to think, to tell, to do, You’re caught between Quotation marks, your heart’s beat an allusion.
The falcon wears its erudition lightly As it angles down towards its master’s glove. Student of thermals written by the desert, It scarcely moves a muscle as it rides A silent avalanche back to the wrist Where it will stand in wait like a hooded hostage.
A lifetime’s learning renders youthful effort Less necessary, which is fortunate. The chase and first-strike kill it once could wing Have grown beyond it, so some morning soon This bird will have its neck wrung without warning And one of its progeny will take its place.
Thinking these things, the ageing writer makes Sketches for poems, notes for paragraphs. Bound for the darkness, does he see himself Balanced and forceful like the poised assassin Whose mere trajectory attracts all eyes Except the victim’s? Habit can die hard,
But still the chance remains he simply likes it, Catching the shifting air the way a falcon Spreads on a secret wave, the outpaced earth Left looking powerless. This sentence here, Weighed down by literal meaning as it is, Might only need that loose clause to take off,
Air-launched from a position in the sky For a long glide with just its wing-tip feathers Correcting for the wobble in the lisp Of sliding nothingness, the whispering road That leads you to a dead-heat with your shadow At the orange-blossom trellis in the oasis.