Lockdown Travel Diary, Poetry

Lockdown Travel Diary: A Note

These short poems were written between March and May 2020, while the UK was under ‘Lockdown’ due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As an NHS worker without any medical conditions that would label me as ‘at risk’, I continued my normal working pattern. However, life around me adapted to new, evolving conditions and this diary of poems reflects that. A common sentiment expressed was (and for many still is at the time of writing, for we are not officially free of Lockdown) that the days become indistinguishable when most of the population remains at home with a paired-down routine to set themselves to, so there are no dates attached to these poems; they are numbered to show the order they were written in. 

Written while on my daily commute, these poems are concerned with what I’ve seen while walking or riding the bus. I see them as sketches, much like an artist will have a sketchbook in their pocket for capturing observations and forms to keep themselves active between working on larger creations.  

By sharing these poems, I hope that you feel a connection with them, or the moments they depict.

Stay safe,

Alyssia MacAlister

Brighton, UK

23rd May 2020

News, Uncategorized

Lentil and Stone Radio Love

Every Wednesday a thoughtful, glorious show airs out of Boston’s WMBR: Lentil and Stone. Hosted by Valentine Chamorro, David Colbus and Diana Rodon, Lentil and Stone is a poetry show with a focus on the theme of ‘home’. We pre-recorded on Zoom, and I am the privileged first at-large guest, bridging the Atlantic with them in Brighton, UK. Seagulls, sheep and modern parenting pressures were topics of conversation and I read some poems, too. You can catch our episode here and while you’re there it’s definitely worth browsing WMBR’s extensive back catalogue of shows for treasures, curios and the obscurios (wasn’t a word, but I’ve written it now).

Instagram: @lentilandstone


Do You Know, Or Do Know Yourself?

I know the woman who sits on the groyne and watches the sea overlap the concrete, 
Who walks the pebbles for mermaid’s purses, who smiles into the wind.
I know the little boy who chases seagulls with only fish and chips on his mind.
I know the man with the metal detector is thinking of raspberry ripple with a flake.
I know the seafood is not so local.
I know where makes a decent roast and where to buy the best cake.

I know the quietest park, the prettiest park, and the park with the happiest children.
I know where to feed the squirrels.
I know where the mating pigeons sleep.
I know those with love. 

I know those in love.
I know the official, unofficial, and still call themselves single.
I know the sweaty, tight-clasped hands, arms around waists, public displays of affection and the turn away of a face. 
I know the couple whose latest addition to the family has four legs. 

I know the dogs that pad the pavement: Dachshund, Dachshund, Dachshund, Miniature Dachshund. Seriously, why so many sausage dogs?
And I know the Cocker Spaniel, the Cockerpoo and the cock-your-leg-and-sniff-your-bum-how-do-y’do?
I know how hard it must be to have Alfie in the pram and Oscar on the lead while your partner takes selfies,
Do you know, I know the babbas in slings, the tots in buggies, the tikes on scooters, 
I know the kids in shades on their bikes slouching low or with no seat at all 
And I know the French kids, and the Spanish kids and the Dutch kids and the German kids cramming the streets and the MackyD’s with maps with blanked-out gaps for them to exercise their English.
I know the singular young men who sit in Jubilee Library wrapping their mouths around strange English vowels, and the silent mums who check out children’s books to read to themselves.
I know they are lonely. 
I know they are not alone.

I know where the NCT mums meet for coffee, 
I know where the old ladies eat,
I know how much it costs to take high tea at the Ivy.
I know that Churchill Square is a clone-plan shopping mall.
I know many people can’t afford The Lanes, 
I know hen nights and stag dos don’t belong to you,
I know how it feels to have a stranger scream in your ear,
I know what it’s like to not want to walk out in the dark,
I know what the back alleys smell of,
I know men who lean inside telephone boxes, convulsing with their sleeves rolled up.
I know the tents.  
I know you know the answer to ‘do you have any spare change?’

I know the YMCA, the Women’s Centre, the Children’s Centres, the Sanctuary on Sea,
I know the Gurdwaras travel down to feed the hungry,
I know the churches that shut their doors after service on Sunday,
I know the vans that pass psalms out with hot food,
I know how to avert my eyes when I’m not in the mood.
And I know, I know there’s no god, but that’s just me,
I’m the kind that goes around hugging trees,
Yet there’s a goddess who gnaws this shore, who eats men and spits glass,
Who we piss, pollute and hide our evidence in. She can turn on us. 
I know the woman who sits on the groyne and watches the sea overlap the concrete, 
Who walks the pebbles for mermaid’s purses, who smiles into the wind. 
I know that as she walks home she can pass thousands of faces, and says nothing to no one.  

I know your streets, every twisty little lane.
I know your people, Brighton, but I don’t know their names,
Do you know? Or do you know yourself?