Poems Renaming Normal

The New Normal has been a regular topic of conversation since the first pandemic lockdown, and inspired the following poets to submit poems on what “normal” means to them. Below are links to those poems and their authors.

Annie Ellis I Barbara Saunders I Chris Hemingway I Christian Ward I Eamonn Harvey I Howard Timms I
Kate Copeland I Marilyn Timms

Barbara Saunders writes about social issues. Her poems appear in anthologies by Civic Leicester, Five Leaves, (translated into Italian and Rumanian) and Exiled Ink online. Her ekphtastik poems appear in anthologies by Ben Uri Gallery and HLF Sutton Archives and online at Visual Verse. Her poems are placed in competitions.

Tomorrow’s Apricots

at what point does it cease to be a miracle
to see red admirals feed on dandelions
on blue mornings?

for skin to feel rainfall/ sunshine and sure
next door gives Ganesha thanks
in his sanctuary

as I say Shema to that same Lord/Lady
of creation/ having survived a night
to wake with all five senses

to hear chimes/ mid-day pigeons clear a throat
to feel cool earth between fingers
to beg for those

who cannot breathe to live/ to heal who grieve
and for incarcerated children who never saw
another butterfly

enter their barbed desert / at what point does it end
this shuttle of responsibility?
who have no oxygen?

no shelter/ no water/ to breathe and let breathe
turn tides of death-in-life and life-in-death
offer life-support/ to be kind

that once meant nature/ to be natural/ at what point
do we become unnatural?
cease to be alive

miracles of creation/ Arabic has an expression
Bukra mishmash means, Tomorrow’s apricots
means When pigs will fly

Means That ain’t gonna happen though it could
at what point does this virus/ indifference
end/when do we begin new normal?

Marilyn Timms is s a much published poet who is co-editor and competitions coordinator for wildfire words Read more..

Yesterday flowers

yesterday, a year-long sea of masks
half-faces sliding past,

easing of lockdown, surge of optimism
whispered chorus
Too soon! Too soon!

ornamental cherries, late bloomers,
finally opening
buds spilling secrets of tomorrow’s splendour

brief joy of release
hugs, dancing, stolen kisses
freedom    normality

pink haze of blossom
camera out of reach
photograph it tomorrow

a day and a half of rain
blooms that ventured out too soon
slashed, sliced, decimated

petals, masks, lives
muddied in the gutter
Too soon! Too soon!

On becoming a grandmother, the day after lockdown

Lying awake in the small hours, the imagined mewling of the newborn
circles my room, hides behind curtains, begs Find me, find me!

Pressing my face to the pillow, I inhale phantom milky scent
of baby skin, feel the non-existent heft of his body in my arms.

How can he understand my enforced desertion? I view his first moments
by proxy, press kisses on an unresponsive mobile phone.

Videos on Facebook bring him close, widen the chasm between.
He’s given a name, James, but not a christening – “not without Nanna!”

By summer he is crawling; my arms overloaded with emptiness.
At Christmas, James pulls himself up on furniture, 200 miles distant.

I conjure his image in my lap, tiny arms hauling him upward on my hair,
pulsing feet slipping on the silk of my dress. Winds in the chimney cry “Fool!”

James has twice outgrown the matinee jackets I knitted in those first, hopeful
months of waiting. Now, I hesitate to start on larger garments, superstitious;

fearful they might be an invitation to further delay and heartbreak.
I talk to his photograph, pour a tsunami of praise on every little milestone

that James passes without any input from me. I’ll make it up to you, the lost
kisses, the missing cuddles.
Not-knowing is a physical pain. I am ill with longing.

A year later, love dispatched in care of the Royal Mail. Hollow celebrations.
Blue icing on a birthday cake, a solitary candle emphasizing my loneliness.

Lockdown unlocked, I am euphoric, forcing myself to adhere to the speed limit,
travelling, only 54 weeks late, toward the happiest day of my life. Triumphant,

I visualize each possible, joyous, scenario of the longed-for meeting, bar one –
a bewildered infant screaming in terror when placed in the arms of a stranger.

Christian Ward is a UK based writer who can be currently found in Culture Matters, Literary Yard, Impspired and Poetry and Places. Future poems will be appearing in Sein Und Werden, The Pangolin Review and Asylum Magazine.

A Casual Adjustment

Once this is all over, the part of me
still vacuum sealed in the lockdown
might wrestle for control. Blossom
trees massaging pavements won’t
have the same feeling. A cyclist
could almost bump into me and I
wouldn’t be bothered to get annoyed.
I’ll queue everywhere even though
it won’t be necessary. Keep my distance
and shrug off looks like excess lint.
The part of me still vacuum-sealed
in the lockdown might insist on Zoom
calls to prevent any unnecessary
interactions, prevent any contamination.
This is my bubble, the voice might say,
I’ll burst it when I want to. At night,
I’ll be so weightless I can almost touch
the moon.

Howard Timms is co-editor of wildfire words and publisher for Frosted Fire at Cheltenham Poetry Festival. Read More

open-door routine

emerging through my front door
still estranged from the world beyond
i don the limp facemask that separates me
from social warmth     ever-present danger
that filters hope from despairing breath
keeps it for other days

the world approaches in bags and boxes
retreating, distant drivers wave and turn
while regulars, near our doorstep
talk small of Covid       vaccination
not the old British standbys
of the weather or the traffic

still mining for nuggets of laughter and love
among rocky dross of feeble words
i sometimes find a thought worth sharing
face to face with neighbours 
dozens      hundreds      thousands
of miles away from my front door

Chris Hemingway is a poet and singer from Gloucestershire. His new pamphlet “paperfolders”
will be published by Indigo Dreams later this year.
Contact details, video footage,
and back catalogue can be found at http://www.chrishemingwaytmepoetry.com

The Cavalry

The cavalry came in whispers.
riding roughshod over magnetic poles

I know, it’s no time to say,
you’re a man or woman
of a certain age.

The cavalry darts like needles,
catching kingfisher eyes.

I feel, it’s often best to ask,
What’s the story, sentence,
or famous missing word.

The cavalry, fill the rows and columns,
parading their climb.

I believe, there’s a right to know
what’s old, new, borrowed,
still struggling to be heard,
struggling to be heard.

“And I watched you dodging your Board and your lodging
but you won’t take us with you again.
I am the crocus of permanent focus,
and I saw you smoke on the train.”

Kate Copeland lives as a housesitter in the UK, USA and Europe. Her fondness for words led her to teaching some sweet languages; her love for art, water, and writing has led her happily to poetry and to several online and printed publications too!


She has become the woman
who wavers about waves, who
keeps his address in her case
her coat filled with maudlin water

She has become a woman
eating pearl-dressed fish at home
wrapping a shawl around,
a shield of confidence
her pass filled with cotton-candy clouds

Safeguarded in dreams,
directions in the wind, the world
quite present as before, soon
a mind more sound, less shaken
when a stranger borders, touches

She won’t become some woman’s jewellery
a box filled with brooches, nowhere
to go but to sit as her dogs in flower beds
any way, the wind blows – so:

She will be coming back as woman
who dares to step on perfect starts, who
uses perfume from unflawed bottles
a return in the sun, her present unsteeled

Annie Ellis is proofreader and usability tester for wildfire words website, and competition administrator for New Voices and Every Breath competitions.
Read Annie’s full biography here.

Taken Back

I step out to a lost space,
throw the chains of misery down
take tissue wings, a key
from a clock and float
in a sweet breath world.

I seek out friends for a chat,
hug those that I love and have missed.
Just taking a hand gives comfort.

I hope I have not forgotten
my own precious space.
I will take it back
and never let go.

Eamonn Harvey is a semi-retired gardener and mini-bus driver domiciled in Suffolk. Further examples of his poetry can be found on his Facebook page — Eamonn Padraig Harvey


In my dream last night
I came across a sad and awful sight
A child on horseback startled …
A sudden explosion and building on fire
The horse bolts, the child screams and falls …
… saved by a soft bed of wild meadow.
The horse falls from a ravine – fatally injured and left to die.

I have a book to interpret dreams – all those night time visions and strange schemes
It tells me of this poor horse and how my life is on a strange, unfortunate course
A severe loss of dynamic power
To move on and save the hour.
My wife speaks, her fuss and unconditional kindness clear
I listen closely – but do not hear.
Like a permanent attack of gout
Unable to move and full of self doubt.
So, for now, the once loved acoustic guitar remains firmly in its hard case
Until, at last, I reach a better place.

%d bloggers like this: