The New Aloof

Paranoia leaks
Into hushed rumours
And bent intrigue,

People panic buy
And keep a close eye
On their favourite things,

Social media is awash
With repetitive self-help guides,
Viral videos and the kind of

Simple horrors you’d expect
In unexpected times;

Even the futurists are running scared,

And the best developers know
There’s no true algorithm

To predict a return to
Our daily routines
And the next normal.

Kitchen cupboards strain,
Fridges swell,

Everyone’s looking for someone
Or something to blame,

Every wheeze brings a query,
Every headache a quiver,

Old folk can’t stop wandering,
Teens keep on huddling in parks,
Everybody’s jogging,

Snitches buzz the hotlines,

Neighbours mutter in bursts
As they stare across the street

Whilst clapping for the NHS,
Aggressively belting
Their pots and their pans;

There’s a voice sat
On everyone’s shoulder,

Suspicion and worry
Are the new unwelcome lodgers
In everybody’s homes.

There are songs
On Tuesday lunchtimes

Because the bar’s already open
And strange times bring early thirsts,

Old stories flow
And they’re funny at first,

Minds drift and
Reminiscing hits its peak,

There’s a rustle and then a silence
Throughout a million front rooms
Whenever politics rears its head,

No one’s talking about Brexit,
Politicians look bemused,

Sweat glistening for the cameras,
Fluffing lines and shunning boos.

By the third week
Everyone’s crying about pubs,
Gigs and restaurants,

Desperately searching
For funny videos and memes
To brighten the mood,

Pockets of love bloom,
Wildlife flourishes

And the internet coos
Over photos of dolphins
Returning to Venice,

Every screen has a cat on it,

Air pollution drops,
Blossom bursts,

Pop stars queue up
To embarrass themselves,

The super-rich turn to ghosts
And the low paid become heroes.

In the echo of post truth,

This dark comedy,
The new aloof,

Seven and a half billion people
More distant than ever before,

Everything just a number,
Without any real score,

Socially distant,
Persistent but flawed,

We’ve been here before

But this time it’s not war.

One Response to “The New Aloof”

  1. The mordant undercurrent of wit is always there in this poem & your examples hit every right note. Easily my favourite stanza:
    Suspicion and worry
    Are the new unwelcome lodgers
    In everybody’s homes.
    It’s up there with Armitage’s laureate effort!

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