The Arts

Lockdown Song: A Poem For the Times We Live in

In a world ridden with crisis and new rules, no one is quite at home.

Forced indoors, the mirror is your god.

It’s time for personal grooming — manicures, 

Pedicures and finicky facials 

Though no one else is looking.

 

It’s time to go on a diet and fitness regime 

Though there’s stuff, tinned and frozen,

Stowed away in your basement.

But in time you’ll get heavier in body and mind.

 

For the recluse and jailbird it’s nothing new.

The contagion, most democratic,

Knows no cure and can spread with just

One breath from patient to physician.

 

In slums and open roads

Their lungs are dustbins, the masks porous. 

The cops rain down with their truncheons, 

Enforcing penance with frog-jumps.

 

Now the peacock, leopard and gazelle

Strut, prowl and leap across pavements.

They’ve reclaimed their space

As you stare down from your cage.

 

Now the long knives, edgy sickles, 

And those native pistols hidden behind

Prayer books and idols of unforgiving gods

Are cocked and loaded.

 

Soon, from a mob they’ll line up

In disciplined rank and file.

They’ll defy the daylong curfew.

They have you, you and you in their sights.

 

Manohar Shetty’s Full Disclosure: New and Collected Poems was published by Speaking Tiger. His forthcoming book is ‘Borderlines’.