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Poetry: 'The Side Effects of Lockdown- A Cento'

Written by Jen Feroze

Bed. Sheets without sleep and the first birds. [1]

Look how white everything is, how quiet, how snowed-in. [2]

It covers milestones, signposts and crossroads [3]

and it looks more permanent than the sea. [4]

It is almost impossible to be here and yet [5]

I think, as always, it’s for the best. [6]

These scars, I tell myself, are learned. [7]

Later I will go out in a leopard-coat of light. [8]

I walk with the ladies who throw stones at the surge – [9]

adventures into rehearsed but unknown living [10]

making us dizzy and whole. [11]

From a distance, our faces may resemble eggs; [12]

shadows our safety, we stand round blankly as walls. [13]

It is almost impossible to be here, and yet [14]

there are so many shades of green, [15]

and copper and gold, then room in the branches; [16]

the brisk herbs of language [17]

reminding me to breathe. [18]

[1] Birthday – Simon Armitage

[2] Tulips – Sylvia Plath

[3] The Boast – Jacob Polley

[4] Tinnitus – John McAuliffe

[5] Plainsong – Carol Ann Duffy

[6] Taxing The Rain – Penelope Shuttle

[7] Bright-cut Irish Silver – Eavan Boland

[8] The Call – Henry Shukman

[9] The Flaggy Shore – Gwyneth Lewis

[10] Eating Out – U A Fanthorpe

[11] The Old Gods – John Burnside

[12] Neither breaking into song nor crying aloud – Carola Luther

[13] Morning Song – Sylvia Plath

[14] Plainsong – Carol Ann Duffy

[15] Swami Anand – Sujatta Bhatt

[16] The Beech Tree – Michael Longley

[17] The Oral Tradition – Eavan Boland

[18] Swim Right Up To Me – Katherine Pierpoint

About the Author

Jen Feroze lives by the sea in Essex. Her work has recently appeared in publications including Poetry Wales, Spelt, Atrium, Dust and Stanchion. She was a winner of the 2022/2023 Magma Editors' Prize, and has edited anthologies for Black Bough Poetry and The Mum Poem Press. Her debut pamphlet is forthcoming with Nine Pens. 

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