(#7 To the 24-hour petrol station)

Take the rubbish out
go back in and wash hands
Check letterbox
go back in and wash hands
Crouch down to tie laces
go back in and wash hands
U ajma 
żobb ta’ fakin Virus
You’ve probably got my lungs already
I will go out for this nightwalk
if it’s the penultimate thing I do

I’d rather be out and about 
and kick the bucket a day earlier
with what strength my legs have left
than spend the extra 24 hours
drowning in a blue sheet
whose only salt is sweat

Then again
if I didn’t walk at all
these lungs might stiffen more quickly
Who knows
Who cares
I’ve had it up to here
with that debate already
Twanny don’t touch your face
Oh fuck it
I’m out now anyway

Just one kilometre
to the 24h petrol station in Houwald
Right, left, straight, left, right
Don’t really need anything
but hey
they might even have toilet paper

Bus 29 to the airport
waiting for no one
not even me
The plane not taken 
to Bow
The plane not taken 
to Ħal Kirkop
In the days and nights of the Virus
distance has perhaps become 
the highest form of love

On a traffic light post
a sticker with 5G
in a red circle and diagonal line
Seems quite fresh
Imagine that
a self-driving car having to decide
whether to crash into an unhealthy 41-year-old
or a nanna hale and hearty
A doff of the hat to the sticker
no answer needed

Zebra crossing
pedestrian light red
almost useless now
No pleasure in jaywalking
when the only cars around
are in showrooms

Another No 5G sticker
beneath the standing red man
now walking and green
Imagine that
5G-enabled microchips
under our skin
analysing our gait
sending the data to the Home Office
so they can arrest us
or stop us at the borders 
Another doff of the hat
Make that three

Music in the ears
The silky-grungy voice
of Eliza Shaddad
No frills
All chills
Deep bass and cymbals
pushing me on

It isn’t eaaasyyy
It isn’t eaaasyyyyy
And I can’t make it gooo awaaay
I can’t make it gooo awaaay

I’m walking
with leaden feet
I’m prancing
in lock step
I’m air drumming
with winged hands
Letting myself go
A bit of moonwalk
A bit of salsa
A bit of thunderclap 

Walk like a dinosaur
Walk like an Egyptian
I can’t stand either of those songs
but never mind
another personal rule broken
Walk like a London-born Maltese
in self-exile from both the city
and the village
trying to keep himself entertained
instead of tearing out what’s left of his hair 
in three countries at once

Out of breath now
though Eliza’s not done yet 
That was quick
I’m not that unhealthy
However breathtaking the song
something is wrong

Another No 5G sticker
on a white plastic box
which I assume
is for power distribution
Or maybe it’s transmitting 
my respiration data
to the Police Grand-Ducale

Petrol station closed
24h indeed
Time isn’t what it used to be
I could continue walking
toward the tunnel
leading to the office quarter
toward the roundabout I hate
with a slight uphill entry
where my car often stalls
No, not tonight
The bedsheet calls
and my lungs respond

About turn
Cross the road
A slightly different route
for the sake of variety
Slow headbang
Slow air drum
An old lady at the bay window
on the second floor
peeking obliquely
from behind the curtain
I see you madam
Nothing to worry about
A smile and doff of the hat

Will she call the Police Grand-Ducale
spoilsports of multicultural parties
beaters of young refugees
agents so unprepared for action
that once at a no-border protest
in front of the European Convention Centre
they sprayed tear gas 
into each other’s eyes

Back on the main road
Further down
a couple of joggers in professional attire
I should 
and do
despite the branded gear
billboards on legs,
shoulders, chest
these fitness freaks used to intimidate me
yet now I’m happy to see them

Across the road
another sticker on a lamppost
Good Night White Pride
with a kick in the chest
I’m not into violence
so half a doff only
Torn paint below it
a white silhouette
stoically looking up
Not sure if it’s the head 
of an explorador
or a Native American

Past the semi-independent theatre 
The second-to-last time I came here
was to see Sartre’s Huis Clos
Huis Clos indeed
L’enfer c’est les autres
Tout à fait

Route barrée


Another No 5G sticker
partly covering another
with the words
Lëtzebuerg, du hannerhältegt Stéck Schäiss
Need an online translator for this
Luxembourg, you are holding one piece of shit
A theatre collective’s proposal
parodying the government’s efforts
in Nation Branding
There’s a video of the performance
but alas, I don’t understand it
Two doffs anyhow


Behind the sign
a weeping willow
like a yellowed respiratory tree
Salix babylonica
or perhaps a Salix sepulcralis
but I might be pushing it

By the bus stop
an empty newspaper stand
We want to know
and at the same time don’t
What lasts longer
the Virus on the paper
or the news itself 

Detour through the school car park
Thanks for reminding me
No salt of love
No salt of sea

No 5G again 
stuck to a white bin
attached to a lamppost
Higher up
a sticker with a German football player
I’ve never heard of
One of my few happy memories of school
countries and surnames
in different languages
Need, got, need, got
My love for maps began
with a World Cup sticker album

Construction site
On a lamppost right behind the railings
a torn orange sticker
Recht o(p Wunnen)
Droit au lo(gement)
#staythefuckhome they said
What if you don’t have one

Lock step to the beat again
Still catching my breath a bit
Yesterday I memorised the music 
of the hotline number
8002 8080
eight O O two
eight O eight O
eight O O two
eight O eight O
Better keep my voice down
I feel like an owl 
Don’t want to scare any kids
battling with insomnia

Back in my street
jamming in the middle of the road
with my shadow
rising with each lamppost
fading then returning
and rising again

Don’t feel like going in yet
There are many lampposts left
till the far corner of the cemetery
I delicately snap a new sprig 
of what I now know is in fact
a black cherry plum tree
Prunus cerasifera nigra
Grazzi Franco
What’s that in Luxembourgish, I wonder
What kind of a linguist stays for over a decade
without learning the language
Yes I do feel ashamed
Weess de?
truly entschëllegt

sorry, un-guilt me
sounding a lot like


Ottu will be happy
with these new flowers
though they’ve already started to wilt
The pavement in front of the cemetery
will soon be a pink carpet
Pink like the blots of the Virus
infecting the news

Enough Twan
Let’s go inside
wash our hands
rinse the tumbler
put the new flowers in it
with fresh water
I can already hear Ottu saying
villmolls shokran
inħobbok jien ukoll


#timezones #walking #covid19

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