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Corona Diary - March 2020

March saw the virus gain a grip on Britain and begin killing. In Europe - especially in Italy and then Spain - it ran wild. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s complacent government procrastinated on every level. Worse, they abandoned testing and even flirted for a while with ‘herd immunity’ before realising that maybe a million of us would die. Utterly unprepared, they left medical staff and other key workers with hardly any personal protection equipment (PPE). The NHS struggled to cope. Health workers died. Untested old people with the virus were moved out of hospitals into care homes where infection spread and hundreds began dying. It was a dreadful and terrifying time. Meanwhile both Johnson and his US populist counterpart, President Donald Trump, resorted to simply lying about what was going on. Eventually, far too late, a UK-wide lockdown was introduced.

Corona Diary by Nick Toczek red.jpg



Okay, we’re mortal, but pause to admire us.

Like our computers we’re fighting our virus,

Won’t let it scare us, defeat us or tire us.


Respiratory rather than renal or thyrous,

It’s proving fatal. That’s hardly desirous.

Tell the Grim Reaper he doesn’t require us.


Tell our employers they don’t need to fire us.

World goes to shit, we’ll go back to papyrus.

Talk to survival and tell it to hire us.





Safe as where what’s ghostly goes is

Safe as ghastly when it grows is

Safe as plague and ring of roses


Safe as fighting off your foes is

Safe as fright as figures froze is

Safe as hopelessness proposes


Safe as sentenced to death-rows is

Safe as murdering of crows is

Safe as daily news discloses


Safe as touching lip or nose is

Safe as wash your hands of those is

Safe as when their coffin closes


Safe as poetry and prose is

Safe as fast which never slows is

Safe as when your driver dozes


Safe as world and all its woes is

Safe as faith which never shows is

Safe as tablets can’t cure Moses


Safe as ventilator hose is

Safe as all that no one knows is

Safe as every question poses


Safe as how this wild wind blows is

Safe as where our future flows is

Safe as contact risk exposes


Stay safe…

Safe till virus metamorphoses



Dead right that we’re globally under attack.

This world we’ve been trashing is trashing us back.

We took it for granted. We’re watching it crack.


Though lifelong we’ve always been part of the pack

Our self-isolation sees us on our jack.

We’ve no one. We’ve nothing to take a new tack.


We’re losing the pattern, the plot and the track.

Our families and neighbours lie stretched on this rack.

We’re sick and it sucks cos they’ll give us the sack.


This tightrope we’re walking seems suddenly slack.

Where there’s no known cure for these coughs we can’t hack

We’ve some who won’t make it. We’ve those we’ll soon lack.


Like junkies grown drunken on skunk, coke and smack

Our interest is fading. Our daylight grows black.

We’re restless. We clock-watch. We’re insomniac.


We’re groping for answers. While facing fresh flak

We swim through statistics. The numbers don’t stack.

Grim Reaper’s here mouthing: ‘hypochondriac’.




The virus we’re calling Corona

Which squats in the lungs of each owner

Pays nothing in rent

Just stays till they’re spent

This sly 20-20 death-donor.




A silence like dumb desperation

Or some slightly numb dislocation

Treads every dread street of this nation.


You think this a strange situation.

No people. Are they on vacation?

Or moved to another location?


You’re puzzled. Why such consternation?

It’s simple. There’s one explanation

For this abrupt depopulation.


Ignoring the viral gestation

We mingled for food and libation,

For travel, work and recreation.


We thus met with annihilation,

Our lungs all deprived of aeration.

Survivors hide in isolation.




Grim as this fear when we’re simply out shopping.

Grim as handwashing and wiping and mopping.

Grim as news stories we’re posting and swapping.


Grim as health services all belly-flopping.

Grim as each labouring lung stalling, stopping.

Grim as these losses like limbs that we’re lopping.


Grim as this daily death-toll that’s not dropping.

Grim as the count goes from small up to whopping.

Grim as the long list this virus is cropping.




Fewer planes are flying now.

This planet’s getting greener.

Fewer cars are on the roads.

The air is getting cleaner.


Pubs are shut. We’re drinking less.

Already we’ve grown leaner

On water, coffee, cocoa,

Tea, orange juice, Ribena.


At least we’re trapped in this place,

Not Halifax or Heanor.

We’re nicer to each other

In everyday demeanour.


Way things are, we wash a lot

Which makes us much hygiener.   

And we’re both stuck at home where

We two can get obscener.




Save a neighbour, sister, brother

Friend or worker, father, mother.

Not to gather.

Not together.

Stay away from one another.



Evenings and mornings,

in this water-thin

slanting Spring sunlight,

midges mass and mingle.


We don’t. We stay single.

We heed our hard warnings.


These nights grow cold.

We wake to frost and    

lost at home at first

we stall but soon re-start.


We keep ourselves apart.

We do as we’ve been told.


We mow, trim borders,

plant seed and feed the birds,

hang out washing,

do more garden chores.


We then return indoors.

We obey their orders.




Only ask where this all heads:

Dearth of doctors, too few beds,

Everyone deprived of meds.


Optimism’s slashed to shreds.

Day by day this virus spreads

Emptying each trail it treads.


Outcomes every witness dreads

Dangle lives from slender threads,

Endings blunt as pencil leads.




It’s not where it comes from,

It’s where the thing’s going.

You point your short finger

Without even knowing.


It’s when numbers dying

Will start to cease growing.

You shrug off these losses

To keep finance flowing.


It’s what can be done to

Get this virus slowing.

You feather your nest while

You’re tweeting and crowing.


It’s all of those deaths that

Your policy’s sowing.

You’re deaf, dumb and blind to

This dead wind that’s blowing.


It’s counting the countless

Whose lives you are throwing.

You don’t see the dying,

Just profit beats owing.



Inhale, exhale; inhale, exhale.

Listen to lungs. Don’t let them fail.

Weak where once they blew a gale.

Hear them whistle. How they wail.


Inhale, exhale; inhale, exhale.

These ribs are bars which built this jail.

Each breath an inmate begging bail.

There’s no reprieve. No call. No mail.


Inhale, exhale; inhale, exhale.

Never known struggling on this scale.

Failure at the speed of a snail.

And, oh, it leaves a dreadful trail.


Inhale, exhale; inhale, exhale.

It’s crucifixion, nail by nail.

A sacrifice beyond the pale.

A landed fish to flap, to flail.


Inhale, exhale; inhale, exhale.

One day this wind will fill our sail.

One day we’ll live to tell this tale.

One day our souls won’t be for sale.




We’ve empty schools and clubs and malls

And pools and pubs and concert halls.


And housebound here within four walls

We hope this virus never calls.


Our headlines clock its latest hauls

With counts of lives it stops and stalls.


We don what stuff we’re told forestalls:

Wear masks, hats, visors, scarves and shawls.


None can foresee what next befalls

Our own and others’ urban sprawls.


Invisible, unheard, it crawls

From lung to lung. This toll appalls.


We wish it came with caterwauls,

With yelps and yells and yowls and yawls.  


We’d all fight back. We’ve got the balls.

But we’re without the wherewithals





Walk from your front door to your garden gate.

Talk to yourself. Try to have a debate.


Scroll your way through Facebook for eight hours straight.

Patrol the whole of Netflix, dusk till late.


Make a meagre meal. Maybe masturbate.

Take a ton of selfies. Infatuate.


Beware of you because you’re not your mate.

Declare your home an autonomous state.


Winge to your friends down the phone about fate.

Binge the bloody news till your eyes dilate.


Shop on eBay for some crap that looks great.

Stop by your letterbox and wait and wait.


Lag, linger, loiter, loll, procrastinate,

Drag, defer, delay and then vacillate.    


Now the same again and then duplicate

How you pass the time while you isolate.



Jump and jive! Jump and jive!


You and I’ve

been cut lose from the human hive.

You and I’ve

no bus to catch, no rush-hour drive.

You and I’ve

got weeks without our nine-to-five.


Jump and jive! Jump and jive!


You and I’ve

not got pissed in a nearby dive.

You and I’ve

no work excuses to contrive.

You and I’ve

no cause to lie, we’re free to skive.


Jump and jive! Jump and jive!


You and I’ve

now nowhere urgent to arrive.

You and I’ve

no low co-workers who connive.

You and I’ve

no management to make us strive.


Jump and jive! Jump and jive!


You and I’ve

gained time to spare and time to thrive.

You and I’ve

got every reason to survive.

You and I’ve

to celebrate that we’re alive.


So jump and jive! Jump and jive!






We’re So Safe and Be Positive, Be Keener have both been published in CoronaVerses, the anthology compiled, edited and published by Janine Booth.


Dead Rite has been published in the special pandemic issue (#19) of The Pangolin Review.    

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