Mavis's Shoe

Author of two novels and a creative memoir.

Monday, 4 May 2020

Lockdown Hunger

A poem from lockdown, a place where I run the gambit of all feelings humanly possible.
Audio version here

Lockdown Hunger

Lockdown hunger:
A feeling in need of another feeling
but without the knowing of
what either feeling is
or how to get from the one to the other.

I ate last night’s pizza
cold, straight from the fridge.
Then the biscuits, every one,
peanut spread on bread with gorgonzola,
dial-in dopiaza, stir-fried rice and nan,
aromatic dumplings with custard and cream.
Wine. Pies.
But yet this hunger persists.

Strange unsettling thing,
it swarms around me
smirr-like, discreet,
shapeshifts with the moment,
lures me sidelong into swamp,
stumbling as through midges and warm rain
towards a misty horizon,
with no certainty of arrival
or of knowing when I’ve arrived,
and no sensing of the great stone walls
rising in my path.

The hunger whispers: stay.
Hold still in this place.
Stay hungry,
love me, the hunger,
learn to love the hunger,
love not knowing, not seeing,
just feeling, something, somewhere,
without knowing where, or what.

This hunger exists, perhaps not in the body,
but lurks in some other sense,
a haze, around me, through me, without form.
A shapeless moving mass of feeling,
clothed in drabness if I could see it,
phlegm-like, suffocating,
and I must learn to love this
shifting, fuzzy damp thing that
morphs and keeps the light out.

Ah, the light, now distant,
now close, diffuse, unclear,
now a vibrant brilliant shock.
These flashes give a glimpse of
other things, real possible things
like tasks, people, memory, paths, accomplishment,
then swiftly throws a veil
and all disintegrates to
spectres of suggestions.

Time must be traversed
yet no time marks itself
but ticks its static tock.
The clock hands twitch,
the battery tries and tries again
with no strength to move them.

Yet in this temporal seepage
the pulse goes on,
now fast, now idling,
with accents of a jazz beat,
pause and crash, insisting:
This is no time for listening.
Run from the tiger,
face the tiger, or hide.
I peer through the fog,
instinct tells me to,
then lift the pen, my weapon.
It freezes in my hand
and falls on scrappy paper.
I replace it with a meat knife
and carve the wrong letter
through the notebook.

The radio sends news.
The tiger is large and small,
its visitation long or brief.
I’ll know it by its spots or stripes
its hacking cough or growling tum,
but not to worry.
I’m not a chosen one so,
with all this fluid time,
can re-write Shakespeare’s works,
invent a new type of clock
or, on a screen, fall in love
with someone I may never meet
and who is perhaps not real.

Maybe none of this is real
except the gnawing certainty
that hunger can’t be met,
and that the bright clouds will move
across the brilliance of the sky,
throwing shadow blankets
for split seconds
on those of us who dare
to risk their life for company.

Lockdown hunger:
When a person is in need of another person
but there is no knowing for either of them
who they miss or for what,
what it is each person feels,
or that such a feeling exists,
and no way to get from the one to the other.

Copyright (c) Sue Reid Sexton 2020


  1. Excellent poem Sue, you've really captured the shifting strangeness of it all, the 'spectres of suggestions' etc. Morelle