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

Lockdown Travel Diary, Poetry

#49 Magpies

They line the verges, the magpies,
Of the path we must go down now.
And in stepping past they are aggravated,
Throwing their heads back; 
We must lower our heads under 
The volley of their calls until we are bowed
With eyes fixed on the dirt.
There are so many we can't count our fortune.
And how they gouge our ankles, tear our clothes;
we cannot run with the lungs of the dead in our chests.
Lockdown Travel Diary, Poetry


Stranger on the bus makes a call:

All right, my darling?
Yeah? And how are you today?
Oh, don't worry about that. You've got a few weeks' worth of washing to get through - only so much you can do in one go.
I know, but you know if you want I can come up and I can sit 2 metres apart form you.
If you're sure.
Have you got everything?
How's the drink situation?
Yeah, it's all right, don't worry.
If you're sure.
All right, I love you.
Be safe. I love you, darling.

The stranger hangs up and makes a second call:

All right?
Come on, then: Why'd you call me half past midnight? Who's died?
You're joking me.
You're joking me!
Oh my god. You know, you know I ain't one who wants to speak bad of no one, but I've got one word for you: karma. Fucking karma.
Yeah, karma.
It's finally done some good.
[Reaches into a bag and takes out a can of lager.]
All this bad and it's finally done some good, getting someone who deserved it.
[Opens can and takes a swig.]
Too fucking right, after all he's done.
After all he's done to women. I don't want to speak bad of no one but he deserved it. It's karma to him after all he did to those poor women. What he did to us. Too right his son becomes a woman and then this gets him. Too right. Don't want to speak ill of those taken by the black but let's celebrate.
Yeah, I'm serious, let's celebrate.
I'll get some prosecco. I'm on my way to Asda right now - I'll get some prosecco and we'll celebrate. And you can come down to me. We can sit in my garden and have a drink to karma. What do you want - can I get you anything?
Fuck 'em - it's my garden. You don't have to sit on me.
You what? Camping chairs? What do you want camping chairs for?
My love, you are too tall for camping chairs - and that's Aldi anyway.
No, you deserve a real chair. I'll bring out a real chair from my house so we can celebrate.
Yeah, bottle of fizz for you and me and we'll drink to him and his karma.