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Covid Poems
by Mark Anthony Pearce



Fernanda / Corona


She was an Art Historian

From Costa Rica

And had never learned

To ride a bicycle

Now she was in Brussels

For her studies

Not for sprouts

I asked her if she was safe

But she never replied

'Wish we were high up

In the mountains'

I said

And closed my eyes

Thinking of

The Cerro de la Muerte

From the city of San Isidro

The mountain of death

The summit of death

Chuckling at the thought

And the irony

Of self -isolating there


Bristol, March 2020




a line, (a short blue one)



For John Dorsey


At 8pm

From our nation’s doorsteps

From our nation’s windows

From our nation’s balconies

From our nation’s gardens

We were urged

To clap and applaud

Our National Health Service workers

I was caught unawares of this

While talking to my Uncle

About toilet rolls

I heard the sounds

Of pots and pans

Cheering and clapping

Staring out of the window

Seeing them all

Young, exuberant

All I could think of

was Howard Beale

From 'Network' saying:





Bristol, March 2020




a line, (a short blue one)



Can Historians Cook Gourmet Meals?


'Then he had to smile at himself. He was still a student at heart, a rebel against the powers that be. As a teacher, he was directly under the control of a government body and was often exasperated by ‘committee’ decisions, but he knew there were fair-minded men and women who really did care amongst the committee members, who fought hard to get the right decisions.

He’d heard many stories of individuals who had fought the government ban on free milk for kids, for instance. Of men and women, including teachers, who had all but lost thin: jobs because of their opposition.

No, it was no good becoming over-wrought with authority, for he knew too well that apathy existed on all levels. The gasman who neglected to fix a leaky pipe. The mechanic who failed to tighten a screw. The driver who drove at fifty miles an hour in the fog. The milkman who left one pint instead of two. It was a matter of degree.

Wasn’t that what Original Sin was supposed to be all about?

We’re all to blame. He fell asleep.’


- From ‘The Rats’ by James Herbert


A History teacher once wrote

That I had the makings

Of a great historian

All I needed now

Were the right ingredients

Years later

I piddle about with words

With the blinds drawn down

In a Georgian terrace

Not my own

While a virus is here

It’s death toll

Sloping upwards




Oh yes

Trying to be so clever



I ask myself

Can Historians

Cook gourmet meals?

Oh dear

I clearly misunderstood

The advice of my betters


Bristol, March 2020




a line, (a short blue one)



KBO (lockdown blues)



Keep buggering on

Was Churchill’s ‘sage advice’

I’m told we’ve suffered much worse


There are still cigarette butts

Outside the front door of my flat

A menstrual pad

Smeared with blood

Drifts around there

Like tumbleweed

In the Mojave Desert

And I’m buggered if

I’m going to do anything about it


Bristol, April 2020




a line, (a short blue one)



April 8th (21 days of isolation)


‘The demonstrated truth is that to walk the same route again can mean to think the same thoughts again; thoughts can be, as it were, objects in a landscape that become visible through movement. In this way, walking is thinking’.


- Rebecca Solnit ‘Crossing the Line’


It’s a dark and eerie night

And I’m attempting to avoid

Any form of life

I imagine that perhaps

Around the corner

Of the ‘Coaches and Horses’ pub

I might see Delvaux’s

Female nudes

With their ghostly perfections

And If I walk far enough

To St Nicholas

Of Tolentino’s Church

I might actually see



With his head

Filled with mists


James Thomson

Wandering aimlessly

As he did

Street after street

After street

Instead I see

A tall black youth

Wearing a baseball cap

Glaring at me

And spitting on the pavement


Bristol, April 2020




a line, (a short blue one)



April 9th (22 days of isolation)


My brother insisted

Via Alexander Graham Bell

To enjoy the sunshine

While there was still some left

I hadn’t seen him

Since the New Year

He told me

He was learning Latin

Properly so he

Could appreciate

Cicero more

Absorbing the discourses

Of Epictetus

Brushing up

On his Chess playing

He was always

More disciplined than me


I walked outside

And strolled down

To the park

Wondering why

I hadn’t been there more often

Feeling nauseous

I heard a male’s voice


‘Fuck Boris!’

Curious who said it

I saw a young couple

Overlooking the balcony

Of their flat

‘What’s he done now?’

I said to them

‘Nothing at the moment’

They replied

They had been isolating

Two days longer than me

I wished them well

And told them to stay safe

Once I got back to my flat

I made damn sure

I locked the front door

I resumed reading a book

On British and Foreign Tram crashes

And accidents


Bristol, April 2020




a line, (a short blue one)



COVID-19 Proudly presents: Fulci’s ‘Demonia’


Eleven minutes

Fifteen seconds

Into the film

The Mayor of Santa Rosalia

Bald, fat and wearing


Clearly not a man

Of modest means

Wants to pay a small visit

To Professor Paul Evans

Of the University of Toronto

A noted Archaeologist

Surveying Ancient Greek ruins

In Sicily

The mayor

Has a persistent cough

And its disgusting

The way he covers his mouth

With his handkerchief

Only to use it again

To wipe the sweat

Off his shiny forehead

‘For Christ’s sake!’

I shout out loud

‘You must stay home!’

You may only leave your home

For very limited purposes only!

Haven’t you read

The prime minister’s letter!

I urge him to stay home and save lives

He should have thrown away

That handkerchief immediately!

I’m certain his hands aren’t clean

But the mayor’s not listening!

The Canadian professor

Asks for local collaborators

For the upcoming dig

But the mayor explains

That the locals don’t like foreigners

There’s this local saying

‘The past stays dead!’

The dead must rest in peace!

But the Professor insists

They are Archaeologists

Not Gravediggers

The fools!

A virus is here

To wipe us out!

Can’t they see the priest

And the doctor

‘In their long coats’

Running over the ruins!


Bristol, April 2020




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Manchu 731


‘The very fact that the commandment says ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill’

Makes us aware and certain that we are descendants of an unbroken chain of generations of assassins for whom the love of killing was in their blood as it maybe is also in ours


- Sigmund Freud



No time for fun and games

Or to say

Thank fuck its Friday

I’m clueless

As to what is really going on

Bring on the

COVID weekend festivities!

Yet I’m aware

That in the 14th century

One third of the population

Of my homeland

Died of what was called

The Black Death

A virus can be manmade also

Don’t you know?


Fast forward

Towards the end

Of World War II

The Japanese

Prepared experiments

On bacterial weapons

Perhaps you know

About the Manchu 731 Squadron?

Perhaps you know

Of Mr. Kitano’s research?

Increasing the production

And number of bacteria

To use in their lust

For empire

These ‘men behind the sun’

To race towards victory

Gave birth to an insane virus

60 times more fatal

Than the Gavocciolo

Boccaccio bore witness to

According to their calculations

It had enough power

To wipe out all of us

Following there

Humiliating surrender

By June of ’46

Bubonic plague

Exploded in Ping Fang

From the shit

Left behind by 731

Within six years

Bacterial armoury

Made its stage entrance

On the killing fields of Korea

Now if you’ll excuse me

I’m going to pour myself

A glass of water

And try and get to sleep


Bristol, April 2020




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Dancing Nude To Sanford Clark


‘Drink to a fool, a crazy fool’


‘The Fool’ Naomi Ford / Lee Hazelwood


‘Hecker was also fascinated by another mystery disease that was contemporaneous with the English Sweate: the dancing mania. The most celebrated case occurred in Strasbourg in the summer of 1518, when a woman started to dance in the street. Bystanders began to join in. Soon hundreds were dancing and wouldn’t-or couldn’t-stop. At the peak of the phenomenon, about 400 people were dancing. The authorities decided to let them carry on, in the hope they would exhaust themselves. They didn’t. Some danced themselves to death.’


‘A Short History of Disease’ Sean Martin




Attempts to mash potato

With the lights turned off

You never know

Who might be watching

Perhaps the ghosts

Are howling with laughter

But I can’t hear them

This music

Was not made for men

To stroke their beards to

But those yearning

For a modern romance

About cuties and honey’s

Spendthrift with their monies

There’s a chance of a kiss

If you can do the twist

The stroll and rock n rolling!


Bristol, April 2020




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The Sneeze from John Cozen's House


As I walk down

Gloucester Lane

Towards the park

I’m starting to look

Like Poor Ben Gunn

With my unkempt beard

And faded brown shoes

My dear departed Grandfather

Used to wear

Is my voice

Hoarse or awkward

Like a rusty padlock?

I’m weary of metaphors

Each time I walk outside

All I can seem to hear are sneezes

I listen to one

I’m sure it’s coming

From John Cozen’s House

A few moments later

I’m sneezing also

As does a man

Not so far away from me

Are we washing

Our hands with soap

And water often?


I had no tissue or sleeve

To cover my mouth

And nose with when I sneezed!

I watch a mother playing games

With her young son


Enjoying the sunshine

He waves at me

From the distance

With his tiny right hand

I lower my head and sigh

Fighting back the welling tears

From behind my eyes


Bristol, April 2020




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A Michael Henchard Sort of Mood


‘Why else keep a journal, if not, to examine your own filth?’


Anne Sexton ‘Letters to Dr.Y’ January 1st, 1962


I’d like to speak

To the mayor if I may?

I know he gets these gloomy fits

Where it seems

The whole wide world

Is black as hell

And I’d say to him

Michael you know

Funny thing is

Some never feel like that

He needs to read

Some Colin Wilson

Boy, that will cheer you up

‘Pray God I never will’


Wow, Am I glad to see you!

Nice to see you

Wearing your studs

And gold chain

It’s a strange sort of place here, friend

Full of Christ knows what

Can’t you feel it Mr Mayor?

Its 3:46am

And I’m amongst

My books and notes

Plenty of filth

There for virgin eyes

‘Our disgraceful lives

Will be absolutely unopened Mark’

Wonderful Michael!

Let’s smile the best way

We can old fruit

I propose we meet

In three weeks

After this cursed lockdown

And let us meet at Weydon Fair

For some well-deserved furmety

With two Penn’orth of Rum in it

Perfect for two teetotallers!


Bristol, April 2020




a line, (a short blue one)



Isolation Dream (For Anne Bean)


‘What is man

But his own dream?’


‘Three Songs for Surrealists’

Edward Lucie Smith


Life did return to normal

We were all

Exonerated of any blame

For past errors of judgment

And those ‘minor’ mistakes

That are so easily made

I must have been outside

Aldgate East tube station

A man was talking

To someone on his phone

Something must have

With a fierce and mighty twist

Pulled the skin away

From his ribcage

I could see the bones

But his tie was neatly knotted

‘A’ve seen woss’


Bristol, April 2020




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You Always Puke Alone


‘Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.’

Ephesians 4:31-32



Prince Louis

In a Tu Check bodysuit

Which the papers tell us

Costs £12

Grinning up

At the camera

With his brightly painted palms

And fingers

Rainbow grease

Across his chops

Intended beacon of hope

To the dulcet tones

Of Captain Tom

And Michael Ball

If I was a PR gent

I’d released it as

Ghoulag and the Gravemakers

‘You Always Puke Alone’


Bristol, April 2020




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May 4th (46 days of isolation)


All I can think about right now

Is the rocking chair

Of Katie Elder

And that

Dennis Hopper’s characters

Always died violently

In any film he made

With Henry Hathaway

All I can think about right now

Is Matthew Borczon

Removing 156 staples

From an Afghan detainee

And the laughter

Of a nearby marine

Standing guard

All I can think about right now

Is John D Robinson’s

Nose job

And his unimpressed

ENT Doctor

And the way

Clare’s cleavage

Mesmerized him

More than any Blackberry pie

Ever could

All I can think about right now

Is how a Monk

Named Gaufier

While praying

Saw the Ghosts

Of solemn Monks

Killed by Saracens

Wear white robes

With purple stoles

Led by a Bishop

With a crucifix in his hand

All I can think about right now

Is Malcolm Morley


‘Out Dark Spot’

How the paintbrush

Rendered a kitchen knife

Stabbing a fragment

Of a red Swastika armband

All I can think about right now

Is Mad Frankie Fraser

Attacking Eric Mason

With an axe

And Dave Courtney

Hitting someone

With a golf club


I’m told

While listening

To Vivaldi

In ‘Full English Breakfast’

All I can think about right now

Are two Joana’s

And how one of them

In 1652

Ordered by a vision

Gathered a procession

To control

The rain and storms

All I can think about right now

Is just about anything but this virus


Bristol, May 2020




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Rednecks and Lions



Coming from the TV set

I ask my stepfather

What the fuss is all about

He explains to me

That a man is pulling

His own teeth out

He’s disinterested


With whatever’s

On his iPhone

My mother

Want’s to see

A documentary

About Rednecks

And Lions

But it turns out

To be about

Big Cat breeding

Don’t you think


Is as derogatory

A term

As calling someone

An Uncle Tom or a Redskin?

I couldn’t be bothered

To ask this question

She’s painted

A watercolour

Of an angel

Cupping an acorn

In its hand

And I’m


My testicles

Like a Simian


In some rundown Zoo


In El Paso

5,073 miles away

Found out

Via a google search

Somebody warns

Our apathy

Will provide

The virus

An opportunity

To spread like wildfire                                                         

Mother falls asleep

Half way through

watching the wild cat film

I think to myself

Interest is everything

Before forgetting it all

And thinking of something else


Bristol, May 2020




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Spring Hill


It’s staying mostly cloudy

In the West of the region

With clearer skies

Toward the East

In the far Southwest

There will be outbreaks

Of showery rain

In the early hours

But will remain

Dry elsewhere

And in other news

A bearded man

Was spotted

On Spring Hill

Earlier this afternoon

Quoted as saying

‘I haven’t spoken to Josh

Since I got out of jail

He’s a stuck-up little prick!’

And finally

Only 9% of us

Want things

To return to normal


Bristol, May 2020




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Wesley Way


According to latest advice

From the

World Health Organization

Whenever feasible

We should consider cycling

Or walking

For essential journeys

Lawrence Ostlere said

It’s been rarely

More tempting

To get out on a bike

Wesley Way

Is a valuable

East Bristol

Cycling link



St. George

And Redfield


It’s one of the

‘Quieter routes’

But I overheard

Two Cyclists conversation

A loud din

Enough to erode

My brains ability

To listen selectively

And decode words

‘What about Ben?’

‘What about Ben!

He’s a fucking toe rag he is!’

‘What do you mean?’

‘He robbed his own fucking mother!

And in recent years!


A lot you don’t know about Ben

The cunt!’


Bristol, May 2020




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Reaction To The Prime Minister's Lockdown Exit Plan


It was a chilly

Monday morning

Strong winds coming

From the North East

On Prince Street

Iron swing bridge

Across Bristol harbour

My spiral snail-shell


A fat man’s

Reaction to

Our Prime Minister's

Lockdown exit plan

‘I decided to watch

James Bond

in Skyfall instead

Stuff Boris!’


Bristol, May 2020




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Strolling past

The Haematology

And Oncology Centre

Where workers

Are nearby

Digging a trench

For reasons

Which remain unclear

An elderly lady

Wearing a face mask

Attempts to engage

In a conversation with me

I try to get

The hell away from her

Aware of the noisy drilling

Adding to the absurdity

Of the situation

‘I cannot hear you!’

I keep telling her

All she wanted to know

Was if I was

Going to have

My blood taken


I was going

For my daily walk

Trying to avoid people

She ogles me

With a toxic scorn

As if I rubbed one

Out in front of her

Or decided to drop

My trousers

Pulled down my boxers

And taken a big steaming shit


Bristol, May 2020




a line, (a blue one)


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