Being stuck home alone during lockdown
propelled me to the garden centre
the moment it re-opened.
Dandering around with a wee flatbed trolley
ruminating over geraniums and begonias
hydrangeas and dahlias
in a Mardi Gras of colours.
Buying a resin Buddha bird bath
and two bird feeders to hang amongst the ivy.
Days spent watching Buddha bless
a charming display of symbiosis;
proud little sparrows pecking
at a dangling delicatessen of milo and millet
sunflower seeds, barley, wheat and nyjer.
Fat pigeons scrabbling on the stones
thankful for anything that falls.
Nightfall – atropa belladonna poisons my dreams
a network of dendritic fingers flick through
the pages of volumous books of haunting pictures.
The bird feeders become bodies hanging from a tree,
Buddha walks off his exalted perch
lights a fag – transmogrifies – taking on the lurid face of an old man
I recall from my history book, enjoying a lynching.
Staring right into my shivering soul
pointing an accusatory finger at the strange fruit.
Always a fugitive
fleeing from some crime I’ve committed,
or one that’s been perpetrated against me.
The sex is nearly always unmentionable.
On one of my fugitive dreams
I came upon a bridge
where a throng of people were locked
like so many birds in a cage.
We harried and harassed each other
scrabbling for a better view
of the house that was ablaze.
Thick mushroom cloud of black smoke
flames licking from every window
all my unborn children defenceless in their rooms.
Most stand gawping
others plunge into the river.
The cardboard house is completely reduced to cinders.
Every night the house burns down in hellish flames.
At the third cock crow a weary phoenix
stops, drops and rolls
out of bed – ready to begin again.
Chris McLaughlin was born and raised in Strabane – now lives in Manchester. Lockdown has signaled a return to writing poetry, after a few years of creating very little. His pamphlet of ‘Five Poems’ was published by PenPointsPress in 2015.