Thirteen ways of looking at a lockdown
(after Wallace Stevens, somewhat)

It is night.
Only the lockdown
is abroad
sweeping the streets.

It is day.
The lockdown spreads
its wings into the light.
Its fairy-dust makes breathing
difficult, perhaps.

The lockdown
looks at the assembled
crowd and thinks:
This is not so good.
The morning and the evening
of the third day.

There is a blackbird
on the lawn.
The lockdown
shrugs and passes by.

Tonight with Caol Ila
and Miles Davis’ Blue:
locked and loaded.

and the lockdown
are birds of a feather


The blackbird
and the lockdown
regard one another.
There is silence.

Talking with Wittgenstein:
the limits of my language mean
the limits of my lockdown.

Talking with Gertrude Stein:
a lockdown is a lockdown is no rose.

You watch the blackbird.
The blackbird watches the lockdown.
The lockdown watches a passing car.
The passing car trembles
and speeds off.
The lockdown makes a note.

We will regret
the passing of the lockdown.
For a while
we noticed things
as if waking in a new world.

The lockdown
draws deep on a cigarette
just like James Dean or
Albert Camus…
Get used to it,
it’s just the way it is.

John Allison was born in Blenheim, New Zealand, in 1950, John returned to live in Christchurch in mid-2016 after 15 years in Melbourne. Throughout the 1990s he'd had poems published in numerous literary journals here in New Zealand and overseas. Three collections of poetry were published during that time, and he was the featured poet in Poetry NZ 14. 'Balance' was published by Five Islands Press in Melbourne in 2006. His fifth collection of poetry, 'A Place To Return To', was published by Cold Hub Press in August 2019 and was considered in The Listener to be one of the best 10 volumes published in 2020, and among the best 5 in The New Zealand Herald. A chapbook of new poems, 'Near Distance', will be published later this year.