Published in Pendemic Poetry, Ireland


six feet  __

                           BY JOSEPHINE LORE

police tape on the stairs of slides on swings
a cortege of army trucks
each filled with the dead


bodies in black bags
no bedside deaths no funerals
no gatherings no weddings

no Sunday dinners with grandma and grandpa
no hugs

six feet is the minimum distance
feeling buried standing up

outside flickers magpies squirrels
hares turning slowly brown
ice melting
days lengthening

and the only music that fits
is the dirge

and at the playground police tape
empty slides empty swings


                        BY JOSEPHINE LORE

out my window, a globe
illuminates a sky of flurry


filling car tracks, deerpath, footfall
smoothing the steps we resolutely took


towards Spring
miraging the ice that lurks beneath


I dreamt this virus is killed by cold
that the people of this land


the first generation and the second
the next to last


left cities, buildings
to start the great migration North


leaving cars
as gas fell from 62 cents


to the depths of undug wells
unplummeted pipelines


leaving portfolios, briefcases
laptops, T-4s


carrying only the stories they would pass
onto their children


a pearl in the night


                         BY JOSEPHINE LORE 

the croaking
of crows in streets
emptied by virus


in the city
a single black feather
falls from the sky


tulips open
in a springtime frozen
by pandemic

we wait one by one
in our hexagons



                                         BY JOSEPHINE LORE 

Burnt Offerings

With which sacrifice will we appease the wrath of unnamed gods?
Will we offer our first-born, the head of our enemy, wheat, the blood of chicken
burn incense and repeat and repeat and repeat the same prayer? Today a Snowbird
fell from the sky; a young woman
died. We thought we could write rituals to mark
this troubled time, create mythologies, gather safely at a distance
normalize the toll. Remove the scent of death from the fabric of our clothes.

church was the fulcrum
   around which time was measured

in February, early morning mass
   ashes crossed onto forehead
like water crossed onto babes
from last year’s palms
   the flame of expiation

Palm Sunday

—triumphant entry into Jerusalem
crucified within the week
   had He known, would He still have gone?
Thy will, not mine

palms tender and green as the Holy Land
Mom taught us to shape two into a cross
   a bubble where the Lord’s head would be

nails and crown of thorns
   sword thrust in His side
such violence for a loving god


Good Friday

   a day of betrayal—
      the kiss of death, the cutting
  of an ear, the crowing
          of a cock          a garden
                  of tears
     why Good?           such violence

Holy Sunday, Easter Monday
   I wish to have been there
at the mouth of the cave
   to see the stone, rolled away
with Mary Magdalen and the other
   Mary to be asked,
Why have you come to seek the living
   among the dead?


The days stretch long

and this day
I would have expected
something unexpected
   some presage
some celestial realignment


instead more deaths
thirty-seven to fifty-three thousand

(no words)

the sun shone though
minus-six a blessing

water poured from eaves
magpies squabble in spruce
and not just flickers but chickadees
come to peck on my wall

do they want in?
         do they want me out?

tell me, oh flighted spirits
         what is it that you want?

Palms II

the stone rolled away
   I walk the pathways
of my neighbourhood
usually teeming with life

dogs, kids, strollers
skateboards, mothers, scooters
sweethearts, cyclists, old lovers
   together sixty years
their love grown tender with age

streets bereft
   pathways barren

I have come to seek life
but will I find it here
   in this place of the dead?

coyotes come up from the fringes
   the wild space theirs    again

Josephine LoRe is an internationally published, prize-winning covid-bound poet whose work can be found in numerous print and on-line literary journals and anthologies. She has two collections, Unity and The Cowichan Series and features frequently at live and virtual literary events. She has twice been Poet in the Prow and is working on a collection based on her Sicilian heritage. Josephine has an MA in Comparative Literature from l’Université de Rouen and a BA in Modern Languages and Literature from the University of Toronto. 

© 2020 by poet Josephine Lia LoRe

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