GUEST POST // An Octogenarian’s Pandemic by Barrie Purnell

There’s been some sort of epidemic
So say all-knowing academics,
A kind of dread Chinese infection
Designed to avoid early detection,
Resulting in oxygen deprivation
For which there was no known protection.
The government and the NHS
Said, what to do we can only guess
But until we can make up our minds
You must avoid contact of any kind,
Wash your hands 10 times a day
Put your going out clothes away,
And for restrictions we’ll atone
By paying you to stay at home.
Said if lockdown we don’t apply
Half a million would surely die,
But something they didn’t say
Was all of us would have to pay,
All the costs of shutting down
To the tune of 300 billion pound.
I have to think they’ve lost their mind
Paying ½ billion to save a life like mine.

On the news the professor reported
We’d all go mad before it was sorted,
But when I had the time to reflect
Saw on me it would have little effect.
I was allowed to form a bubble
With neighbour who said, it was no trouble
To do a supermarket shop for me
Of fresh food, bread, milk and tea,
And I booked an on-line delivery
Which hitherto had been a mystery.
My hour long visits to numerous clinics
Were now phone calls over in minutes,
And no waiting in a doctors surgery
With ill people sitting next to me,
Covering me in their coughs and sneezes
Spreading their as yet unknown diseases,
And oh what joy when they disclosed
All the dentists would be closed.
No visits from that demanding relation
Requiring clean sheets on each occasion.
My expenditure had been decreased,
From hugging I had been released,
No longer was I considered rude
When I indulged my love of solitude.
I don’t spend weekends in hotels
Or holiday in the Seychelles,
I have nobody to look after
I have no fear of the hereafter.
I thought now I will have the time
To watch programmes on Amazon Prime,
Then there was Netflix and Catch-Up TV
Opportunities spread out endlessly.
The prospect of gardening reared its head
Or I could do DIY instead.
Then there were all those books to read
Which would increase my reading speed,
And when these became less exciting
I could always try to do some writing.

But as months ran into longer time
I missed the freedom once was mine,
I missed the human interaction
Leading to increasing dissatisfaction.
I wondered if this imposed ban
Affected this old solitary man,
Someone long past his prime
Already living on borrowed time,
How much harder would it have been
If I had been just seventeen?
And here I had to face the truth,
We chose to sacrifice our youth,
They lost out on jobs and education,
On teenage fun and socialization.
My few remaining years protected
By youth, who even if they were infected,
Would avoid serious complication
And wouldn’t require hospitalisation,
But who’d be paying back for many years
The billions spent to keep our conscience clear.
So we mortgaged millions of young lives
To try and help the old survive.
Was this right, we don’t know yet
Or something the country will regret?
Maybe result would have been the same
If they’d just locked up the old and lame,
And supplied any help they needed
Until search for vaccine had succeeded.
Having lived through rationing and the blitz.
The old could surely have survived this?

Each year 600000 deaths are seen
From causes other than COVID 19,
For every 1 that from COVID died
Cancer and heart disease killed 5.
Now on the news a man of 99
Is said to have died before his time!!
What’s new is that now each day,
Presented in graphical display,
Death is there for all of us to see
We’re confronted by our own mortality.
Everyday more of the same
Until we look for someone to blame
For the extra deaths of an aged few,
As if death was something new,
When we have been able to ignore
The millions who have died before.
Only when that eulogy is read
Over the special one we’ve loved who’s dead,
Do we realise death is always with us
Even if it’s something we don’t discuss.
As mortals why do we believe
From death we alone could be reprieved?
Heart attack, cancer or suicide,
Broken heart or homicide,
Immortality is our minds biggest lie
COVID ………just another way to die.

by BARRIE PURNELL
© All rights reserved 2021

anywhere but here

i wandered the impossible earth
locked myself in uncharted rooms
i never knew where i ought to be
lost my thoughts to the memories of old trees
somewhere surely winter must end
somewhere surely there’s a little less rain

by TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2020

the blacklight gaze

maybe i am nothing
or maybe i did happen once
but history was never my story
and paradise always belonged to you
maybe if i denied my need
maybe if i’ve not said too much
i might finally find my field of reeds
to walk in, perchance to breathe

fain don’t you light a candle for me
for tomorrow’s breeze would see me gone
so scorn me not for a child
i intend to bleed from open hands

maybe i am grateful
or maybe i’ll be the final smile
frozen between provident lines
where i’m never right and you’re never wrong
maybe i haven’t bled enough
maybe if i defied the need
in an ultraviolet field of reeds
to haze in, ergo to breathe

fain don’t you light a candle for me
for tomorrow’s breeze would see me gone
so scorn me not for a child
i intend to bleed over scorched sands

maybe my blood was fire
maybe i am guttering now
bleeding out blackened fields of need
to lay in, forgo to breathe
so maybe i am something
maybe i’ll not betide even once
everyone’s busy living and dying
least of all me

by TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2020

the spark of life (headshot)

fear the gawking dead
they look without seeing
but it’s the gawking alives
who see without looking
that are way scarier

so kill me if you please
headshot me into a sense of life
trigger my release

force is no answer
raised fists only make more
and reason is empty talk
i can no longer bear this
please bury me under a socle

so kill me if you please
headshot me into a sense of life
trigger my release

and if i do arise
from the grave pyres of alives
i pledge to rub my wild eyes
then look you full on face
not eat it, only feast my ravenous heart

so kill me if you please
headshot me into a sense of life
trigger my release

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2019