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New Rules to Abide By, a Poem by Bob Beagrie

Updated: Mar 4, 2022

For the collection: 'Life in the time of #COVID'.

New Rules to Abide By - Literary Piece

Now that all distances have vanished content yourself with nooks and crannies, where the wild hunt goes on for woodlice, spiders and silver fish. Listen to the sounds of your own voice, hum a tune to test how the different rooms of your house change the timber and tone. Distrust the news from the mainstream, twiddle your thumbs and shoo your ghosts out to roam the emptied streets. They have been learning obscure languages to glean the truth from the horse’s mouth, from the puppet play of crows, the deeper secrets of stone. When they return they will gather in the back bedroom to enact their pantomimes, you will need a torch or a candle at least to watch their shadow plays And you will weep a little from the ache and longing for what you always assumed was real, the things you took for granted; things like places, comings and goings, meetings and encounters, the uninhibited touch of others. Whenever you take the plunge to venture out your solitary footsteps insist on stretching before you then lagging behind, they’ll sweep one way then the other with the fluidity of tides. Inmates will watch you with suspicion through their windows and the bolder sort may demand you justify what is essential. Queuing is a new art form of occupying silences, observing proximities and scouring the gaps on the supermarket shelves. Key Workers have become the envy of all, kings and queens of purpose, who still possess minutes, hours, even days of the week. Everyone else marks the passage of time through the ritual washing of hands, holidaying in the kitchen then voyaging across the Great Laminate Plains in search of the remote control. Patience is the new black and should be decorated as you would a Christmas Tree with fairy lights and baubles, place presents at its feet and worship it as your saviour. Dismiss urban myths of warlords who live in fortresses of toilet rolls and who eat nothing but pasta, some of them supposedly have unicorns in their gardens adorned in the flags of old nation states. Within your cocoon you must digest yourself into protein-rich soup, disintegrating all of your tissues except for the imaginal discs, those discs use the goo of your previous existence to fuel the rapid cell division required to undergo a radical transformation into a new physical form and a somewhat different personality after instances which would normally result in death.


Bob Beagrie has published numerous collections of poetry and several pamphlets, most recently Civil Insolencies (Smokestack 2019), Remnants written with Jane Burn (Knives, Forks & Spoons Press (2019), This Game of Strangers – written with Jane Burn (Wyrd Harvest Press 2017), Leasungspell (Smokestack 2016). His work has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines and has been translated into Finnish, Urdu, Swedish, Dutch, Spanish, Estonian and Karelian. He lives in Middlesbrough and is a senior lecturer in creative writing at Teesside University, United Kingdom.


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