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BooksOctober 29, 2021

The Friday Poem: Lockdown Blues & Other Preferences, by Nathan Joe

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A new poem from theatre-maker and performance poet Nathan Joe.

Lockdown Blues & Other Preferences

(After Liz Breslin and Wislawa Szymborska) 


I could tell myself a lesson on how to prevent these lockdown blues 

But I prefer 

To indulge in possibilities 

In what i would rather be doing




I prefer collision 


I prefer people watching without the distance 


I prefer excess over restraint 


I prefer thigh grazing 

Hands holding 

Elbows crashing 


I prefer that moment when everyone is waiting for someone else to say

One more drink?

One last drink

Yeah one more drink. 


I prefer stealing hours after midnight 


I prefer duration over increments 

Marathons over sprints


I prefer coincidence 

Because the world is so small and any minute I could bump into you


I prefer that thing we do where meet in the intersection of each other’s paths 

Where we do not know who will go first

And we fumble for each other’s instincts 

And our instincts prove us wrong 


I prefer this harmless awkwardness 


I prefer your breath on my skin 

Over live streams 


I prefer protest over passivity 


I prefer karaoke over singing alone in the shower 


I prefer Melodrama over Solar Power 


I prefer two decent meals a day to being drastically over fed (sorry mum)


I prefer getting those free side dishes at korean restaurants 


I prefer arguing over how to split the bill


I prefer the civic over netflix 


I prefer astrology over myers briggs 


I prefer the smell of you on my pillow 


I prefer too much 

over too chill


I prefer the noise over silence 


I prefer lists over couplets 


I prefer your jokes in person

As much as i love your secondhand memes


I prefer your voice 

over text messages 


I prefer having a cheeky fag on the steps of the basement 


I prefer being affected over feeling nothing 


I prefer a cheeky line over waiting in line to the supermarket 


I prefer my clumsiness being witnessed 




Give me an audience                     any day


Give me embarrassment amongst others 

I want pity not just pain 


I prefer dog videos over cat videos 


I prefer the profane over the sacred 


I prefer not having morning wood all the time 


I prefer masturbation as a treat 

Not as a lifestyle 


I prefer yoga in a studio 


I prefer not having             so much time to reflect 


I prefer live laugh love 

over       live laugh lockdown 


I prefer the discomfort of honesty over the dance of avoidance 


I prefer absurdity over stoicism 


I prefer sincerity over irony                     I’m just better at irony 


I prefer comedowns over plateaus 


I prefer callouses         over         smoothness 


I prefer fingerbanging a bowl of hot chips 

Sauce dipping ketchup kissing 

mayo melding 

aioli assimilating 

cross contaminating 



I prefer maximalist


I prefer carpe diem over YOLO 


I prefer sweating with strangers in tight spaces


I prefer time not slipping away 

I prefer not forgetting the day of the week


I prefer to live in hope that this is the end 

than the fear this is just the beginning 


I prefer the good old days.



The Friday Poem is edited by Chris Tse. Submissions are welcome and will be open until 31 December 2021. Please send up to three poems to

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