Pandemic Poetry from E. Martin Pedersen

black textile on gray textile

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2nd Quarantine

2nd Lockdown
today Oct 24, 2020
we go back indoors
like the 100 days of Spring
I am retired now
my only commitment
the gym which closed for a month
perhaps a year, 
so stock up and batter down
prepare for another 100 or however-many
the TV works, there's heat
I'm lucky, I have some-
one to hug, the one
I'm with to love
and I'm still angry
all those kids met in squares
at night and infected
the country -- why
can't you stay home?
voluntarily, I'll show
you how
to suffer and feel proud
to renounce human contact
to feel ambivalent
to watch films
you don't follow
feel guilty
feel afraid to die
die for something; die for nothing
but not die to go skiing
or get the fall fashions.

The Bug

It made so many remain in bed
so much sufferance
fever aches and diarrhea
boils and bloody eyes
the weak and old expired
it came over the winter holidays
ruining so many parties
driving some to desperation
on a spree of self-harm
the cemeteries have no room left
will it end soon like a storm
or continue like a season?

As if greed
had crawled in an ear
my children caught the bug
or the bug caught them
yet I knew they could not die
not before visiting Big Sur
watching ocean slam rocky shore
waiting for the next wave
knowing it will surely come
yes, we still know things
certainties, like machines
like information
except then we find,
to our chagrin 
a bug in the system.

Corona Virus, December 2019  (Covid-19)

You can't get the plague from drinking Corona beer
you can't get drunk either unless you really try
like those ladies in Mexico City
out in the streets so pretty
smashing and bashing the patriarchy

or wishing Uncle Joe could calm us down
tell us everything will be all right, good night
because if you're not spooked
to coin a phrase, without clichés
you're not paying attention

not to Master Chef on the primaries
or your personal ratings on your smart watch
can't see your friends, can't see your family
outside your own house where you can't bear
anyone anymore anywhere

when will the mall reopen, how can we go on without it
the Mall of America, hell, the Mall is America
shut us down
take away our identity
what's left? raging human animals

before I check into Intensive Care
with whatever nurses are left bending over me
I want -- what do I want?
to tell you I love you -- no;
to finish my autobiography -- no;
to drink fresh-squeezed orange juice -- no;
I want to go outside

radioactivity be damned
hear that annoying magpie caw one more time
feel the seabreeze on my cheeks one more time
step in a puddle -- splash
look at how the junipers grow straight and tall
the black and white cat on the car roof
look up -- the clouds are not keeping their distance
could be a big storm gathering, they're too close, infecting one another
-- I'd better go inside now and just remember these things.

A guy put his hand on my shoulder

in the just-opened gym, though it's normal
I cringed in Covid psychosis
tingled, warmed, and bristled
the first touch in seven months
	only touch can give you a buzz
a corona with lime and salt
chips and deadly virus salsa on the side
	one pat, Mom called them
love taps, one is enough
to kill.

Our spirit will recover or not
from lack of stimulation
through the laying on of hands
the sacred touch of trust, trust of touch
as in parents and grandparents
not scoutmasters or P.E. teachers
the good touch, the warm fuzzy
hug therapy nobody's getting anymore --
we will all be wrecked for the rest of our lives.

I walked seven miles without water once
in high mountains, dehyd-
ration affects the brain fluid so
your body remembers the panic
you drink whenever
you drink when you're not thirsty
you over-hydrate
you can, in the hazy future
will we cower away
or huddle for human warmth
once this is over
to go onwards?

-- please touch me / please
don't touch me --

It's a dark day*

I'm writing this in the dark
I'm in a dark room (the bathroom)
turn on the lights! I don't want to.
dark as in what happens to computers
and TVs when the juice goes out
maybe you had too much on: iron
oven, dishwasher, toaster, electric chair
dark like a COVID patient on several
machines on plenty of expensive drugs
then the doctors give up, the body
gives up, the curtain falls, the eyes
slowly close -- wish I could hug
my cat again, but she's gone too
she was black, the color no one wants.


I feel like I'm falling in perpetuity
help me, backwards I stumble
hoping to reach out for a hold
I sit, that's no good
I lie down and feel like
I'm falling onto the ground
if I lied on the ground
I'd be diving back into another gravity di-

I deserve to fall because
so I know how
I've always tried to be good
always be good
never a scandal
never a transgression

bad only in my head
oh so bad
the Devil made me do it
maybe I’m practicing
for the big drop coming
when all is revealed.

I should stop resisting
let the force do its thing
slam against the marble
table top on the way down
head split open in two halves
sweet watermelon juice running
into the wood parquet
leaving a goodbye note as
quite a permanent stain.

bio:  E. Martin Pedersen, originally from San Francisco, has lived for over 40 years in eastern Sicily, where he taught English at the local university. His poetry appeared most recently in Ginosko, Metaworker, Triggerfish, Unlikely Stories Mark V, and Grey Sparrow Review among others. Martin is an alumnus of the Community of Writers. He has published two collections of haiku, Bitter Pills and Smart Pills, and a chapbook, Exile's Choice, just out from Kelsay Books. A full collection, Method & Madness, is forthcoming from Odyssey Press. Martin blogs at:     

Poem by Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon : Release from Quarantine

Release from Quarantine

       I walk out of my west-facing back door, 
surrender to blustery winds soaked in sunned warmth. 
       Breezes snatch my blue batik dress by the hem 
    and my cream harem pants billow like sails propelling 
swift schooners on high seas. My skin flushes, sheens salt-sweat 
     by the time I skirt the village green. Summertime swirls,
wraps me round with dancing butterflies, lifts my mood and ears
   with tapestries of birdsong. I stop clenching my jaw, grinding 
  my teeth. I breath full and deep for the first time in two weeks. 
  My itchy feet find a cadence, a match for my release. I wander
in the waiting world, neighbourly and new, glimpse paths to explore 
          and streams to leap. Full-leafed trees rustle and sway
                                      gifting gentle shade.

                       I inhale, smell wild garlic to gather, 
seasoning for tonight’s al fresco tea. I grin. Bluebells nod to me
                       and welcome solitary bees.  
Wolfpack Contributor: Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon

4 Poems from Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon

A Poetry Showcase for Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon


Ceinwen lives near Newcastle upon Tyne, UK and writes short stories and poetry. She is widely published in online magazines and print anthologies. Her first chapbook, ‘Cerddi Bach’ [Little Poems], was published in July 2019 by Hedgehog Press. Her first pamphlet is due to be published in December 2021. She is a Pushcart Prize (2019 & 2020) and Forward Prize (2019) nominee. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Newcastle University (2017). After a career in the public sector, she is now developing practice as a participatory arts facilitator. She believes everyone’s voice counts.