Poems by Nicole Man


  • Quantitative
  • tempestas
  • CARE
  • cycles
  • drop


    Week 2, Michaelmas 2020
    As we watch,
    locking up for the last time
    for now, so they tell us:
    but shutters down for longer than
    seems right
    feels less complete
    than locking up:
    maybe, by virtue of the fact that things are not
    up and running.
    (That’s allowed, of course, in twos – though a trip to the Headington one won’t be.)
    We are mandated to exercise control.

    Yet keeping your distance proves anything but
    social; allegiance made
    so much harder
    when it leads to keeping yourself to yourself.
    When instead of cracking open clams
    or a bottle
    made delicious
    with the juice of good conversation poured
    Turn into those odd metaphors.

    I know

    my restricted presence can’t hold
    a candle
    to the hearth-like warmth
    of hugs, huddles round hot coffee and hands held. Still, if
    it can but bring something
    of a spark
    to the faces belonging to a few dear names
    around me, nonetheless then
    am I fulfilled.


    Week 4, Michaelmas 2020


    Week 4, Michaelmas 2020 – Extraordinary Meeting
    What unusual times we live in. Season
    formerly named unofficially
    according to cosy coats and coffee-shop creations,
    marked by common cough, cold and flu,
    now subdued
    into a cycle of ebb and flow:
    now controlled,
    now countries cordoned off.

    Just so, hi-ho,
    from cutlery to policy we go.
    A council called, we all zoom to our desks.
    One thing’s for sure, that we,
    despite the uncertain climes –
    pelican birds of a feather –
    will weather this storm together.


    Week 6, Michaelmas 2020
    takes so many forms in its nominal and verbal states,
    multi-metamorphic. Mundane,
    the standard symbols that emblazon garment labels;
    fortitude that the veneer of professionalism in the term scantily covers
    for those who give it, dedicate it.
    To be free from it is bliss:
            bereft of it from other living souls, desolation.
    So, take care. But don’t be mistaken: this
    is not meant
    as the offhand farewell, turning away
    without so much as a full wave,
    lingering gaze. I mean
    Take it, like a warming cup passed
    From one pair of hands to another,
    as you would mark a smile received, taken in, internalised
    in the turning up of your own lips or,
    in this present age,
    the crinkling
    and twinkling
    of an eye peeping above the mask-line.
    So take care, Corpus.
    Take care.


    Week 2, Hilary 2021
    Cowley Road, Walton Street, Botley Road, Summertown
    Only just ready, trusty, waiting at heel;
    dusty spokes and chains locked up, clamped down.

    Stiller months deemed by spikes, surges, floods to drown
    walled round, semi-absorbed, mankind in a hamster wheel.
    Cowley, Walton Street, Botley Road, Summertown.

    no fun, not fair for any town
    less a smooth Ferris loop, more lurch and reel —
    bread lines and livelihood locked up, clamped down.

    No way to nurture seedlings, some recently sown,
    Morning bell nor playground laughter peal:
    Cowley, Walton, Botley Road, Summertown.

    Captain’s orders — tempest brings a collective frown.
    Sails lowered, the crew are ready to keel.
    Caring capacity locked up, clamped down.

    Proverbially, linear’s boring: paint dried or grass grown
    yet cut circulation is leaving us too numb to feel.
    Cowley, Walton, Botley, Summertown.
    Worlds apart, all locked up, clamped down.


    Week 4, Hilary 2021
    in the ocean as nothing
    as a camaraderie, well-worn fallacy of pathos on the pane yields
    so easily to gravity —
    like the tainted particles might
    not as well
    demand the strain of sweat or the wounds behind blood.
    Only the pure snow white, in sturdier form
    than flakes, stands firm.

    Rest not when the verdant laurels bloom for before
    you know it the ball has already eluded your grasp, rolled away
    from the invigilant

    Play cards and aplomb right
    at the fall of a mic:
    not so much JKLMN as IDGAF.
    Thank goodness for redeeming aloofness
    whenever creations are dropped; the belle dame shows
    mercy like gentle rain or manna dew.
    Something to quench and feed the thirst.

    Though I so often select to stay mute
    each time the body convenes,
    since some of what She scattered
    seems to have taken root
    so by I pop and drop these lines.