Home Alone

Working from home’s all right at first:

no need to shave or wear a suit

while free to focus in a burst,

ducking the slog of the daily commute.

And it’s hardly as though I give a hoot

for long, dull meetings, where all present

try to score points, and anyone absent

(whatever the reason) loses out,

assumed as giving their consent.

Unless a VTC should sprout

(a drag I’d rather do without)


I stay in bed till nine or ten

then catch up slowly with the news

over a coffee, till midday when

I check my in-box, and slowly choose

which ones can be ignored. I snooze

through half the afternoon, then start

at four or five to focus on

those from my boss, and once they’re done

I binge on Netflix with a beer

until the small hours, whereupon

back to my bed I slowly steer

for sleep again to volunteer.


Outside, I know the empty streets

pre-figure the apocalypse:

the joggers/shoppers one still meets

cross to the other side. Such trips

demonstrate how crisis strips

us quickly of the thin veneer

of ‘civilisation’, which we wear

only as long as the supermarket

shelves stack loo-rolls – once they’re rare

how many among us, let’s face it, 

give a damn for those less fortunate?


Some friends believe some good will come

out of this crisis – that we’ll change our ways

perceive the world as a common home

our greed has ransacked; that in the days

ahead we’ll enter a new phase

and live in solidarity

at long last, freely, steadfastly

ready to pull together, keen

that unborn generations see

a kinder planet, cared-for, clean,

with every government gone Green.


Myself, I doubt it. Once it’s over

I reckon we’ll want our old life back,

and play the blame game, because we’d rather

put anyone else upon the rack

than tidy up our personal act.

Dig into history if you dare:

are the lessons of the past all lies?

After plague, or war, did we reset, share?

When markets crashed, did we grow wise?

Or quickly forget the whole nightmare

to party all night on survivor highs


wide awake, having closed our eyes?

Published in Snakeskin 272, May 2020