Isolation diary day 11

So I called yesterday day twelve! Big deal! As most of you will have found, one day resembles another to a fair degree. Back when the isolation started, I actually cut a post-it note in half, and stuck it on our kitchen calendar to mark the current day. I stuck the other half of the post-it on the nominal last day of my sentence. Of course, the latter date, whatever it is, falls in April, so the two yellow bits of paper are on different pages of the calendar. (They will soon be on the same page, however, and start drawing ever closer.)

I slept in a bit this morning, until about 7.45. After breakfast, coffee #1, and a few other things, we headed out for our walk at about 11.00. This was rather later than our usual excursion, and had gotten quite warm by then. (On the weather report this evening, I see that was about when the maximum of 26 degrees was reached.) We did our usual route in reverse, probably just for a change. (By the way does anyone know why people have started saying “Change it up” recently, instead of “Change it around”, or just “Change it”?) Anyway, when we got back it was time for another coffee, then lunch. Coffee #2 was better than its predecessor. I still had some grounds in the container this morning, so I ground a smaller quantity of beans, which turned out to be fewer than I needed. (I am still getting these settings right; I might need to turn the quantity dial to 2 cups, and press it twice.)

We entertained ourselves during lunch with an episode of State of play on Stan. Afterwards I managed to place our second online grocery order through Woolies. For some reason, the their web site wouldn’t accept the password that I had set previously. So I had to reset it — twice, or possibly three times. Each time I was sent a message containing a reset code. I had to click on this code to be taken back to the web site, where I would reset the password. The messages were quite slow to get through, and all filed underneath each other in my email inbox. I managed to open a message twice, and click on a link I had aleady clicked on, so had to go through the reset process all over again. I finally managed to log in, retrieve the list of items I had ordered last time, add a few more, and place order #2. There was a delay right at the end for some reason I couldn’t fathom. After a few goes I worked out that I had to supply the CV code, or whatever it was, for the credit card. (This was unexpected. As far as I can remember, when I order something using Chrome, this code is usually stored in the browser.) So it all ended up taking about half an hour. Still, it is better than trooping along there in RL.

For a bit of light relief after all that, I played one of Mariss Jansens’ CDs that I hadn’t previously played: his newer recording of the Shostakovich Leningrad symphony.  This is probably the longest of the Shostakovich cycle, and undoubtedly the heaviest. I will have to go back to the earlier one, part of his complete set — I think the performance that time was done with the Leningrad Symphony Orchestra. The newer one was with the Bavarian Radio Symphony; being an SACD, it is superbly recorded, if rather low in volume. I will give it another go before deciding which I like better. This symphony gets very loud; anticipating this, I hadn’t turned the amplifier up quite high enough. I will turn the wick up a bit more next time!

We didn’t get any new appliances today, but we did get some rain. Also, possibly inspired by the Shostakovich, I wrote a poem.

See them coming

During the pandemic
that everyone knew would be declared
we stayed home and cooked
watched TV
not the news.
When we let ourselves out for walks
we crossed the road when people came.
They did it too.
No-one had to pretend to be cosmopolitan
everyone was a stranger
we could avoid them openly.

A white cat hovers in our driveway
on the damp concrete
next to the nandinas
it can see the street but still
climb the fence.

It’s one of about four
which used to pace around our courtyard
then they stopped coming
it’s like the Berlin Wall dissolved overnight
and there was nothing any more to patrol.


Morning update & instapoems

As noted in the last post, I had the first Bicalutamide last night. I felt fine; maybe slightly dizzy: if so, it was very subtle. I slept well, and all was normal when I got up. After having hung out and brought in a load of washing, booked the car in for a service, made a phone call, driven down to Maling Road for a coffee and to get some meat, and other miscellaneous fiddling around, it still is. My beloved was going to take the day off today, just in case. However, this morning, I said “no need”. (I reminded her that I am a card-carrying wimp.)

Having thus gained your attention, here are a few instas.


I’m glad I saw
the bust of Nefertiti
how many eyes
have stared at hers
felt her in the room
heart stop
to see her


Connoisseurs of the nature strip
delight in discards
rescue old crap
from lonely landfill
have antennae for what might
one day come in handy
they are optimists
adoption agents
suburban flâneurs
they give the humblest object
a look over
then resume their
eternal rounds.
These old codgers all have
honorary commissions in
the army of utility.


Words prayer flags
moved by hope
fluttered by love
prevailing breeze of habit
leaches colours
do they mean the same
answered or not


Workover I

Anyone remember when contemporary music (as it was then) had titles like Anaconda IV?

The title of my post might seem to recall these sententious times. I meant to allude to the more laboured method I have reverted to with the poem below. (The subterranean metaphor is irrestible.) I have been burying it, digging it up, and worrying away at it like – at least the simile is justified – a dog with a bone. At least it is a change from the Instas! Here it is; fingers crossed. (That would have been a good title, come to think of it.)

After this apologia, what forgiveness? Oh for heaven’s sake, just get on with it!

Present laughter

Cherry blossom bloom
intrinsically pink
individual as pearls
solemn as geisha
lovely in their futility

their self-communing
sleigh bell chatter
like music, about only itself
cadenza that can only end
in the bronze peal of spring
the dragon’s breath of summer

Instapoems III


Min Kym talks to Brahms

he is intense

can the evening

not end?

She takes her leave

walks home;

next day his cigar

haunts her gown


The bones of a sign frame

a rectangle of sky

lost without the words

it sent constant

as a lighthouse


The glittering city

glows like an irradiated snake

river of souls

in unchanging flow

necessity moves gently

to the conclusion

implicit in the cell

all we do stops

along the way

that never rests

the life that takes

us over for itself.


Instapoems II


A tennis ball glows

abandoned on a lawn.


Outside a bungalow

a porch light greets me with

automatic courtesy.


Low sun slants

over the road

jagged cracks

like horizontal lightning.


Two early flowers

camellia and rose

shyly red.


Red is the colour

of hope,

black, of rest.




I have been putting that pen refill to unexpected use writing instapoems. What is an instapoem? I only came across the word recently, in a New Yorker review of The terrible, a memoir by Yrsa Daley-Ward. From what I can make out, an instapoem is more of a concept than a formula. It refers to a first, or early, draft of a poem, usually short. So they are either not edited at all, or if so, only lightly. (I couldn’t help myself here and there.)

I have been enjoying knocking out a few of these. Maybe they will be a sort of warm-up for the memoir that I am supposed to be writing, but which is as yet only notes and a few scraps. Because there are several of these, I have decided to give them titles from the periodic table. The titles are not assigned for any particular reason. I can’t get all the line spacing right, except in the last one, but I’m not going to fiddle with them further.


We hold on

until we can’t

then it can be


to let go.


In love

like a pairing

you need to take place

if your love

doesn’t love you

you can’t be

by yourself.


Man standing on one leg

foot to knee

like a double bass

on a spike

himself the instrument

the universe plays


A paper shop

smells of all the sweet thoughts

we imagine ourselves thinking,

all the marks

we owe it to ourselves

the universe

to make


After Mahler

In the forest

I’m in a clearing

tall trees

the magic hour

seems to stretch out

as if it will last forever

a path leads out

that I have to take

wind in the trees

the grass is cool.


Bubbles fur the bottom

of the saucepan

water seethes

just contained

sauce kisses

the gentle pasta

oh Mommy



Endless manoeuvres

of the glasses

shuttling between

cold and wet

hot and dry

being handled

being alone

shut in the dark



Alexa, I’ve got
a broken heart
how do I get a cure
Hey Google
what’s the meaning of life
should I buy my wife a bracelet
so she knows
I love her
or just tell her