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Saturday, March 13, 2021

ON THIS DAY 2020 I wrote 'O Friend, I Know Not which Way I must look (transposition of Wordsworth)

ON THIS DAY 2020, as coronavirus began to rage, I wrote ‘O Friend!...’ which was later published on the Poetry and Covid website, here: Six Poems ( My poems are all dated (there are to be another 10 or so of these OTD 2020 poems over the next couple of months). I also reflect on the Poetry and Covid website here: Pages: ON THIS DAY 2020 I wrote this lacuna-pocked poem as a version of one of Coleridge's sonnets (

 But here’s the poem again, in case you missed it, less masked than Ms. Campbell, it is true. 

O Friend! I know not which way I must look

Parts of Bo want to look away (it wasn’t meant
to be like this!) comfort in the great oppression.
Dressing in a mask is just for show,
like Naomi Campbell’s empty airport hazmat chic!
The wealthiest among us are best protected.
The handyman and the cook have been laid off
below the sick pay threshold, to build up ‘herd
immunity’ in the herd, wheezing at sports events,
coughing in open libraries over closed books. Plain
thinking gives way to the Cum’s behavioural data,
predicting our supposed crisis fatigue, acceptable loss.
Bo prays we must ‘take it on the chin’ for the economy,
chants ‘Buller! Buller! Buller!’ as he rinses his trotters,
huffs back to his breathing, breeding, household.

13th March 2020

 Here is a video of me reading it on the day it was written (in draft). I make a few gestures too! 'Buller etc!' is the greeting which former members of the Bullingdon Club emit when they spot a fellow member (or a member with his member in a pig, of course.)

This poem comes from British Standards, which you can read about here: Pages: The final sonnet transposition from John Clare (

British Standards is the third book of the ‘English Strain’ project. You may read about the first book and second book here. Indeed, you may now buy them.

Book One, The English Strain is described here (on a post that was written before it gained its title!).

There’s another post on Book Two, Bad Idea here .

I am delighted to say that Book One, The English Strain is available from Shearsman; see here:


I am also delighted to say that Book Two, Bad Idea is available from Knives Forks and Spoons; see here: