past the breaking point

my watch must be broken –
is it really just two o’clock?
was the weather forecast right,
the front door – is it locked?

sunshine toasts my skin
it’s baked a golden hue
a colour seen as threatening
small wonder I feel so blue

‘s bad enough to be in lockdown
virus lurking outside the door
since the ghosts have shed their sheets
hatred multiplies by the score

I’m mad, I’m sad, I’m worried
filled with dread when I think of November
best to give my fears to God
try to enjoy what’s left of September

copyright © 2020 KPM

5 months & 3 days

overhead
the Dundee sky
resembles pond scum
pullin’ weeds outdoors
botchin’ the lyrics to Zero 7
a skip – a swivel – a hum

when
a lone ray of sun
escapes from a cloud
God, is that you?
Mom, are you there?
perhaps joy is still allowed

life
is so unstable
death by Covid or racist hate
all blood’s red – all shit stinks
wake up people
before it’s too late

copyright © 2020 KPM

duvet days

mournful winds
threatening skies of grey
outdoors
is off the table for today
rain is falling
oh so fine
liquid diamonds dangling
from the clothesline

but it’s okay
if my plans go astray
gonna grab my blanket
give myself a duvet day

to start, a big breakfast
I will cook
feed my face
reading my favourite book
a long hot shower
will make me feel blessed
but I’ll not get
properly dressed

because my plans
have gone astray
gonna treat myself
to pajamas all day

hot chocolate
in my favourite cup
on a wee table
the remotes are all lined up
fuzzy socks on my feet
blanket pulled up to my chin
cushions comfortably arranged
now to cosy in

I’m glad
my plans have gone astray
cause sometimes there’s nothing better
than a duvet day

copyright © 2020 KPM

side effects

talk to me
tell me
all the things you miss
say it in your normal tone
whisper in a sibilant hiss

talk to me
tell me
about the things you want
divulge all of
those memories that haunt

talk to me
tell me
your secret dreams
& if you have nightmares
which make you scream

talk to me
talk to me
I’ll listen whatever you say
for I am sick with solitude
day after endless day

copyright © 2020 KPM

dancing on Sunday

she remembers a Sunday
not long past
when she danced to music
loud & fast
songs that cheered her
the music of her youth
back in the days when musical idols
always sang the truth

she remembers how
the sun shone on that Sunday
as she danced in her garden
to keep depression at bay
dancing barefoot on grass
covered in Scottish pigeon shit
all alone she danced
caring not one whit

she danced & she sang
on her small patch of earth
battling her grief & her demons
with all she was worth
she spun remembering
basement parties
the smell of sweat & weed
plates piled with food so hearty

current times may be uncertain
lockdown an unwelcome curse
yet she dances in her garden
reminding herself things could be worse
despite those days when depression
plunges her into a dive
she’s not homeless, she is healthy
the people she loves are still alive

copyright © 2020 KPM

unrealistic

I wanna go to Dobbies
drink whisky in a pub
kick back with my student friends
in their wee flats in The Hub

I wanna go to Broughty Ferry
walk barefoot on the beach
but busses ain’t a good idea
so that wish is out of reach

I wanna briskly walk
down a crowded Dundee street
hear the sound of other voices
the pavement taps of other feet

I wanna a girly night
with my Scottish bestie
four weeks of lockdown
has me growing testy

I’m tired of watching others
through a tenement window
lonely walks into town
in the cold spring sun’s glow

I miss my family
I wanna get on a plane
I need to see – I need to hug
my sisters & brother again

feel like I’m gonna I’m cry
feel like I’m gonna scream
how I wish I could wake up
& find this was all a dream

copyright © 2020 KPM

locked down on Nelson Street

the sun has not been cancelled
it rises every morn
birds sing outside her window
the world has been reborn

her bed must be made
there’s coffee to brew
she gazes at her garden
drenched in April dew

sausage for breakfast –
or maybe bacon?
she lights a cigarette
ignoring a heart that’s aching

she eats, does the dishes
opens curtains & blinds
books & CDs she realigns

she wanders through the lounge
high-ceilinged blue & green
sunshine on earth-toned highlights
a picture-perfect scene

next door is her kitchen
brighter than a summer day
a man stands at a counter
powerfully built, with hair of gray

he bathes her in safety
deals with her fears
makes her laugh
until she’s in tears

how she loves it:
that hug, the kiss hello
& how when she acts stupid
he’s quick to tell her so

a memorable first date
meals, weddings, death
sleeping & awakening
to the sound of his breath

bowls of fruit, flower bouquets
a Valentine’s card
the reassuring steadfast presence
whenever life gets get hard

life in lockdown – still, she’s happy
with the choices she has made
spooning, they fall asleep
in the cruel pandemic’s shade

copyright © 2020 KPM

we’re all in this together

it helps to know I’m not alone
in my tidy little home
yearning for a hug from my best friend
day drinking while I wait for this lockdown to end

it helps to know I’m not the only sad soul
longing for work to make them feel whole
wishing to throw off solitude’s chain
tired of the telly to which I’m now chained

it helps to read I am not on my own
on those days when I weep or have a moan
unable to control the thoughts in my mind
longing for a button to allow me to rewind

for now, I watch the warm spring
revert to bad weather
wishing I could believe
we’re all in this together

odd, how I find comfort watching GMB
news anchors who admit they feel as bad as me
the grass in my garden growing & green
as people worldwide wait for a vaccine

so I make another drink in my tidy cozy space
thankful I’ve awakened in this safe, familiar place
those who think they’re in power? no one’s fears they can allay
better to trust a higher power to get you through another day

copyright © 2020 KPM

12 hours

her alarm clock is not set
still every morning her eyes open
she envisions other people
lying in bed like her & hopin’

that today is the day
they will turn on the TV
to a news anchor announcing
that the world is virus-free

although she is not hungry
she eats some bacon & cheese toast
silently she says grace first
aware that she has more than most

a solid roof above her head
clean hot water as she showers
books to read & films to watch
to help her while away the hours

she even has a private
tiny, outdoor space
where she stands surrounded by flowers
sun on her head & wind in her face

the indoors & the outdoors
she freely bounces in between
waiting for the miracle
that will end this quarantine

copyright © 2020 KPM

see you at the movies

I wish I had a shut-off switch for my brain. My Mom, many of my childhood friends, my boyfriend John and even my freaking therapist have all told me I think too much: “over-thinking” is the term. I think.

I’ve just returned from my daily visit across the road to my elderly neighbours. In our pre-Corona lives, I’d go inside their house. We’d sit in the lounge and have coffee and swap anecdotes and share the photos on our respective mobiles. Now, they stand in their doorway and I stand outside at a distance far greater than is recommended by the government.

I ask them how they’re getting on, how they’re feeling. “Och aye, we’re all right,” Sarah assures me with typical Scottish stoicism.

“’s no what ye said this morning,” Jack says, laughing so hard his zimmer wobbles. I am instantly alarmed – what if he falls?

“Shut it,” Sarah snaps. This gentle woman, whom I’ve never seen anything other than calm, serene and smiling. I never imagined she was capable of using such a harsh tone of voice.

Jack is still laughing. “Oi Kath,” he tells me, winking one rheumy eye, “Ye best keep checking in on us. No doubt you’ll find her trying to bury me in the garden one day!”

Sarah gives me a pained smile. It’s evident that – like me, like so many other people – this new “normal” is beginning to take a toll on her. We exchange further pleasantries and then I head back across the road to my flat.

It’s 12:15 and there’s absolutely nothing for me to do. I pour myself a glass of iced tea and plop down on the sofa in my sunny living room, too disconsolate to even turn on the telly, always my favourite distraction.

Is it just me, or has it occurred to anyone else that life in lockdown is a bit like the Home Alone movie? Except it’s a really shitty final instalment with no comic relief. I’m a loner by nature (“anti-social” Mom used to call me; my boyfriend does, too). I’ve lived alone for the majority of my adult life. So one month into lockdown, I can honestly say I’m not doing too bad: 95% out of 100. Though I do have my days…days when I feel restless and weepy and my thoughts run away with me.

That said, living alone never bothered me much. According to government figures released last year, an aging population and an increase in the number of young people living alone means more than a third of households in Scotland are filled by single occupants, about 885,000 people. I have many young friends who live alone, but it didn’t really bother them: they had active social lives filled with pub quizzes and club nights and regular meals out in restaurants or at friends’ homes.

The same applies to my older friends, living alone due to divorce or the death of their spouse/partner. They may not have enjoyed living alone, but they had activities to offset their solitude:  they sang in choirs, volunteered in charity shops, and had regular lunches with friends or nights out in the Ferry.

Corona has put the brakes on everything. I’m lucky in so many ways; though I live in a tenement building, I have decent neighbours and a private garden. Yet I can’t help but think of the many people who live in tenements or multis or cities with limited access to green space – what are they supposed to do? What about people stuck with the ASBO neighbours from hell? And why am I thinking about stuff like this? There’s nothing I can do about it, so why do I sometimes feel guilty when I sit in my wee garden on a sunny spring day sipping Chardonnay?

I need brakes for my brain.

Know what else I can’t help but think about? All those end-of-the-world movies that I grew up watching on Sundays at Shaker Theatre with my siblings or Friday nights with the boyfriend of the moment at Miles Drive-In. Vincent Price in The Last Man on Earth. Charlton Heston in Soylent Green. Ray Milland in Panic in the Year Zero.

I can’t exclude the more recent crop of disaster films: The Road. 2012. War of the Worlds. Daybreakers. The Crazies. 28 Days Later. Contagion with Laurence Fishburne, which is currently showing on Netflix – can’t believe they are showing that now!

For me, movie fan that I have always been, this virus and its accompanying restrictions is an extraordinary, extreme and extremely unwelcome case of life imitating art. Masks, panic buying, boarded-up shops, deserted streets, lack of essential supplies, frantic efforts to find a vaccine. That shit is supposed to stay on Hollywood film lots or cinema screens….

Oh wait, all the cinemas are closed.