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Thursday, April 30, 2020


by José A. Alcántara

The bud, newly broken,
does not care.

The virus, freely spreading,
does not care.

Each of them opens
into blossom,

trying to replicate,
as we do.

What is crisis to us,
is to them being.

The black spider
on the pale rock

hunts for blood.
That is what it does.

José A. Alcántara lives in Western Colorado. He has worked as a bookseller, mailman, commercial fisherman, baker, carpenter, studio photographer, door-to-door salesman, and math teacher. His poems have appeared in Poetry Daily, The Southern Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Spillway, Rattle, and the anthologies, 99 Poems for the 99%, and America, We Call Your Name: Poems of Resistance and Resilience.


by Rick Mullin

Another month of stay-at-home-or-die.
The choice is getting tougher day by day!
A toss-up in the waning April sky
as gun enthusiasts come out to play
a game with cable news. Misspelling hate
as usual. Extolling T***p and Pence,
co-opting clumsy slogans from the left
about the right to choose. Try making sense
of their disdain for science. The bereft-
of-access taking on the Nanny State?
We’d buy it if the even-less-endowed
were not in body bags at Lost and Found.
We switch to radio. It’s not as loud
and, next up, we’ll have something from The Sound
of Music—Stick around for “Bach at 8”…

Rick Mullin's newest poetry collection is Lullaby and Wheel.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020


by Jenna Le

In Eavan Boland’s poem “Quarantine,”
there’s much to be admired: how she rhymes
slant, rhyming 1847 with woman,

say, or how the perished man and woman
in the three lines that start with line 18
are dignified, like headstones touched with rime,

by strict iambic beats. The point that rhymes
most richly with me, living as a woman
in a world starved gray by quarantine

in this year of our Lord COVID-19,
however, is the way that Boland’s rhymes
affirm love’s primacy: I’m not the woman

her poem describes, the starving Irish woman
whose feet, for lack of shoes of soft sateen,
molded themselves against her husband’s grime-

dark chest; yet Boland’s poem reminds me I’m
a member of the cult of man and woman,
built like a virus from the same protein.

Jenna Le is the author of Six Rivers (NYQ Books, 2011) and A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora (Indolent Books, 2017), a Second Place winner in the Elgin Awards. She was selected by Marilyn Nelson as winner of Poetry By The Sea’s inaugural sonnet competition and by Julie Kane as winner of Poetry By The Sea’s sonnet crown competition the following year. Her poetry appears or is forthcoming in AGNI, Denver Quarterly, Los Angeles Review, Massachusetts Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Pleiades, Poet Lore, and West Branch

Tuesday, April 28, 2020


by Katherine West
“Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?”
—William Wordsworth, 
“Lines Written in Early Spring”

At first she took everything
Boxes tied with string
Old sugar sacks
With books
Grandmother’s sweater
Grandmother’s cider
A journal
A pen

She followed rivers
Through orange dirt
She followed the birds
They always knew
Where to find water
And at each
She left something behind
A thanks
An offering
A sacrifice
A song

Until it was summer
And she walked barefoot
Over the hot rocks
Of foothills
Hands empty now
Even her songs
Only in her head
Her throat
Her mouth
The cider
Inside her
The socks
Decorating trees
The sweater
A scarecrow

She came at last
To the high country
Green mountains
A long meadow where wild iris
Still bloomed
As if time had stopped
And spring lived always
In this one place
Where a large chair
Had been set on a rise
At one end
An eternal view
Of beauty

Red velvet cushions
Gold painted arms
All looked new
As if weather were not allowed
To touch it
Did not touch it
Did not sit
She tried to go on
But the throne
Pulled her back
Three times
She left the meadow behind
Only to turn
To return
Following her own path
Through damp grass

She lay down at the far end
Of the meadow
And slept
And when she woke the moon
Was up
The meadow filled
With people
They surrounded
The throne

A bowl filled with rice
Sat before it
One by one
The people stood
Came forward
And took a single
Grain of rice
Until the bowl
Was empty

Then there was silence
Then out of the silence
Came a song
Like the wind in winter
From the people
And the words of the song
Were names
Only names
On and on
The people sang

Until the sky began to fade
And the song
And the people
Faded too
But the throne
The golden throne
Glittering in the new sun
The throne remained

Katherine West lives in Southwest New Mexico, near the Gila Wilderness, where she writes poetry about the soul-importance of wilderness, performs it with her musician husband, Yaakov, and teaches seasonal poetry workshops that revolve around "wilderness writing."  She has written three collections of poetry: The Bone Train, Scimitar Dreams, and Riddle, as well as one novel, Lion Tamer.  Her poetry has appeared in journals such as Lalitamba, Bombay Gin, and TheNewVerse.News  which recently nominated her poem "And Then the Sky" for a Pushcart Prize.

Monday, April 27, 2020


by Earl J Wilcox

When he awakens—eyes too full of macular
to see any clock—Alexa, his roommate,
tells him the hour, temperature, date, begins
their day with Adagio for Strings. It’s 6:30.
Robed, peeing done, doddering, wobbling,
he shuffles down a hall, toward his kitchen.
Morning meds taken, coffee perking, he
strolls into his sun room; late, white
azaleas wave in a Carolina breeze. Two
squirrels scamper, a red bird flies away.

The NYT headlines on his ancient Windows
screen blur. Numbers of new cases, deaths,
something about masks, T***P fibs again.
He glances at the theater section. Fun.
Performers posting happy videos. This early
Monday too young—he feels—to count as
another day just yet as the sun is still hiding
behind lush dogwoods, cherry trees. His coffee
smells better than it tastes. His macular eyes focus
slowly. Spring pollen clogs ears and throat from
clearing properly until mid-morning. Abetted
by coughing he could sound to some is if the virus
found him overnight. Until time for the women
on The View to take up their verbal cudgels exactly
where they left off yesterday, the TV is silent.

Online the local rag counts case and death numbers
on page Two. He avoids noting too closely how
many who die are near his age, though the papers seem
to equivocate or just don’t report for some reason
the causes of death among some elderly folks.
People in pictures atop obits are smiling. Why not—
he sighs—since the snaps were made thirty
years ago. His ancient computer is now fully
engaged as is he ready to surf. He avoids all accounts
of the virus. About ten pages of an EXTRA
section of the newspaper are devoted to almost
every nuance of the disease. The online news has
run the same section for several days. There is
no lack of news about COVID-19. In the
Sports section, more reports of games canceled.
Are the NFL, MLB, NBA going defunct?
He gives a mental “thumbs up” to ball-playing
millionaires helping raise funds for needy families.
Seems the NFL draft is the spring sporting event.

His puny small stocks made modest gains
yesterday, and the weather will let the azalea blossoms
hold their blaze another day. The morning
meds taste funny without food. He eats a banana.

Sinus clogging and sneezes are common. It is not
the virus season after all. A classical radio station
plays Bach and soothing, nostalgic olden goldies—
Brahms’ How Lovely Are Thy Tabernacles by Mormon
Choir. In his best dulcet tones, the radio announcer
avoids mentioning COVID-19 until the end of his
shift. It is good to have four hours of music
uninterrupted by updates on cases and deaths
and prospects for future. At his age, some of these
projections have been in his profile for a decade.

Earl Wilcox is reopening his back yard to squirrels, robins, and cotton tail rabbits. Early worms show up at their own risk.

Sunday, April 26, 2020


by Paul Jeffcutt

Candy, Bread, Microwave Meals,
Liquor, eCards, Sleeping Pills,
Sausages, Butter, Toilet Rolls,
Cannabis, Cheese, Tylenol,
Pet Food, Chips, Video Streams,
Heroin, Wine, Computer Games,
eBooks, Beer, Exercise Mats,
Vitamins, Cookies, Cold Cuts,
Ice Cream, Guns, Online Gambling,
Webcams, Eggs, Hair Coloring,
Chocolate, Bleach, Coffee,
Baked Beans, Tea, Pornography.

Author's Note: Listed in the poem are the most popular products bought during lockdown.

Paul Jeffcutt’s debut collection Latch was published by Lagan Press. Recently his poems have appeared in The Honest Ulsterman, Ink, Sweat & Tears, The Interpreter’s House, Magma, Orbis, Oxford Poetry, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry Salzburg Review and Vallum. He lives in Northern Ireland.


by Judith Terzi

There they are—intimate backgrounds
for the news these COVID-19 days.
It's as if we were voyeurs into the lives
of those we watch & listen to. There they

are, right in their own living spaces. Fireplace
here, lampshade there. Bookshelves filled
with oeuvres that surely don't include any
of my poetry books. I see titles like I Am

That or Night Draws Near. I see games
like Yahtzee & Big Boggle. A stuffed lion
waits on one shelf. On another, a clay
hippopotamus. Dull brown pillows thrown

on a chair in a home for effect in one
interview. Or maybe it's an Airbnb rented
in haste for isolation. Probably so. The lamps
seem pretty Motel 6-like. Madame Nancy

stands in front of an abstract art piece. I love
the pastels, & her eye makeup this evening
is subtler than at her last interview. Different
lighting, perhaps. I've heard that a naked

man in a shower was accidentally on camera
thanks to a mirror not removed in time.
Someone has wedding photos hanging
in perfect alignment. She looks happier

in the black & white glossies. A former
Intelligence maven has six books on a table––
three lying down, three upright, but
upside down. Another hasty setup no doubt.

And a different maven has two copies
of Leon Panetta on a little table along with
Six Days of War. Grim, detailed reading,
for sure. Oprah has such a cool living room.

I love her comfy sofa, her unlit fireplace.
There is a low-fired turquoise pitcher
on someone else's shelf. Pottery—still no
poetry that I can spot. The avocado walls

of yet another background are rich,
as is the cranberry wall of the former
Ebola tsar. Gee, I'm dying to see the rest
of Madame Nancy's house. Aren't you?

Author of Museum of Rearranged Objects (Kelsay), as well as of five chapbooks, including Casbah and If You Spot Your Brother Floating By (Kattywompus), Judith Terzi's poems have received Pushcart and Best of the Web and Net nominations and have been read on Radio 3 of the BBC. She holds an M.A. in French Literature and taught high school French for many years as well as English and French at California State University, Los Angeles, and in Algiers, Algeria.


by Richard Meyer

’Tis magic, magic that hath ravished me.
            — from Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe

Place your faith on the tried-and-true,
the wisdom that our forebears knew.
It worked for them in times before.

Nail a horseshoe to your door,
paint the lintel and the jamb
with blood of slaughtered goat or lamb.

Salt the threshold twice a day                      
to keep the pestilence at bay.
Hang up a cross and pentagram.                  

Burn sage and myrrh to cleanse the air,
light a candle, say a prayer.
Use magic to protect yourself.

Put amulets on every shelf:                                    
a hamsa hand, a Wiccan moon,
the Eye of Horus, Viking rune,

a witch’s knot, a scarab stone,
a totem turtle carved from bone.
Don’t trust in science coming through                                

to save the day and rescue you.
Keep superstition by your side.
The paranormal will provide.

Richard Meyer, a former English and humanities teacher, lives in Mankato, MN. He was awarded the 2012 Robert Frost Farm Prize for his poem “Fieldstone” and was the recipient of the 2014 String Poet Prize for his poem “The Autumn Way.” A book of his collected poems, Orbital Paths, was a silver medalist winner in the 2016 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards.


by Marsha Owens

Residents protest a stay-at-home order outside the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on April 20, 2020. Photo from Twitter/@costareports

Jesus is my vaccine
the sign on the green
pickup read

i bowed my head
apologies offered
to jesus
who must feel awful
about his flock
of fools, pumping
tattooed arms
swastikas center stage
in this show entitled
Needahaircut Now!

and that Jesus guy
could be anywhere
in this picture, perhaps
in a vial over there

amid the cute little
red show filling streets,
circle the wagons, fire inward
a poor business tactic, sure
but first the frail must fall.
a modest proposal.

Marsha Owens lives and writes in Richmond, VA. Her writing has appeared in print publications, including The Huffington Post, Wild Word Anthology, The Sun, and online at TheNewVerse.News, Poets Reading the News, Rat’s Ass Review, and Rise Up Review. She is a co-editor of the poetry anthology, Lingering in the Margins.

Saturday, April 25, 2020


by Bonnie Naradzay

Sculpture depicting a Great Depression breadline at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Washington, D.C.

This has been done before, standing in line for a long time.        
Think of Soviet women who queued for hours for bread.              
And I have learned about the lines of the Great Depression:        
men lined up for mind-numbing jobs at assembly lines.                

Think of Soviet women who stood for hours for bread                
or Akhmatova outside the prison waiting for news of her son.    
Here, men lined up for mind-numbing jobs at assembly lines.    
These days some have it easy – food deliveries, yoga online.        

Akhmatova outside the prison waited with women for news        
and the chance to send a loaf of bread, or a note, inside.              
These days some have it easy – food deliveries, yoga online.        
Still, Camus said the plague is within us, here to stay.                

I have learned about the lines of the Great Depression                
where hope envisions a loaf of bread, a note from inside.              
Camus wrote that the plague is within us, here to stay,                
as it has always done: waiting in line for a long time.      

Bonnie Naradzay’s poems have appeared most recently in American Journal of Poetry, New Letters (Pushcart nomination), RHINO, EPOCH, the Tampa Review, Tar River Poetry, and Ekphrastic Review and are slated to appear in Kenyon Review Online, AGNI, and others.  For many years she has led poetry workshops at a day shelter for the homeless and at a retirement center, both in Washington, DC. 

Friday, April 24, 2020


by Ann E. Wallace

Reckitt Benckiser, the maker of UK cleaning brand Dettol and US brand Lysol, issued stark advice to consumers on Friday, saying it had a responsibility to help with myth-busting: “As a global leader in health and hygiene products, we must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body,” it said in a statement on its website.

The president wondered today
if we might wipe out the pandemic
with disinfectant, like we swipe
over doorknobs and countertops,
sprayed inside our bodies, or
tremendous amounts of light.

Today was the day that my oxygen
tank was brought to my doorstep
by a man who could not enter
my infected home, could not step
past the tub of chlorine bleach wipes
that I leave outside my door for cleaning.

Tomorrow, may I wake rested, my blood
replenished, fortified and ready to lay waste
to the virus running loose within me,
and may I not read of devout red, white,
and blue Americans newly dead and dying,
cleansed with the bright light of fool’s gold.

Ann E. Wallace is writing poetry and teaching her college classes from home in Jersey City, NJ while she recovers from COVID-19. Her poetry collection Counting by Sevens (2019) is available from Main Street Rag. She is on Twitter @annwlace409.


by Victor D. Infante  

Both linger at the mirror before a servant turns the computer on for them.
Appearances are everything in the Grand Guignol of nation states.
What's tardiness in the face of statistics? Numbers are balloon animals.
They can bend them into any shape they wish. To a point.

One is drinking Coca Cola from his teacup, sugar and toxins coursing his veins.
He has long forgotten ever quenching his thirst without metallic aftertaste.
In this, he is very much the embodiment of America.
The other has stopped taking honey in his tea.
Winnie the Pooh has claimed even this: An unfair comparison.
He is wearing pants. Let all the world know he is wearing pants.

There are no cameras, so neither talks of vaccines or death knells.
One has fortune, the other debt, and this propels the vacuous dance.
Nielsen ratings make a conversational cameo.
One explains it is a measure of value. The other knows this.
That's why he limits what is seen. Envy radiates across oceans.

One looks out the window at the bodies stacked across his lawn.
He wants to have them removed, but there's some inexplicable delay.
One decides to make a monument of charnel houses, frames carnage as a gift.
No one cautions against the idea: Indeed, it's all such men have ever given.

Victor D. Infante is the Entertainment Editor for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, the content editor for Worcester Magazine, and the author of City of Insomnia from Write Bloody Publishing. His poems and stories have appeared in dozens of periodicals, including The Chiron Review, The Collagist, Barrelhouse, Pearl, Spillway, The Nervous Breakdown and Word Riot, as well as in anthologies such as Poetry Slam: The Competitive Art of Performance Poetry, Spoken Word Revolution Redux, The Last American Valentine: Poems to Seduce and Destroy, Aim For the Head: An Anthology of Zombie Poetry, The Incredible Sestina Anthology, and all three Murder Ink: Tales of New England Newsroom Crime anthologies. He has serious opinions about RuPaul's Drag Race.

Thursday, April 23, 2020


by Pauletta Hansel

Crabgrass beneath the iris rhizomes
where my muddy fingers
can’t tell one root from another.
Meanwhile, down in the French Quarter
the rats are starving.
No tourists, no trash.
What can they do but feed on their young?
Everything wants to survive.

Inside our lungs the virus slips
itself into the Ace-2 receptors and is remade.
Scientists call what happens next a cytokine storm.
Bugler, sound the charge! An army of cells
march up from the trenches,
destroy what they can’t save.
“We have to think about this pandemic from the virus’s position.”
All it wants to do is to eat us alive.

Pauletta Hansel’s seven poetry collections include Coal Town Photograph and Palindrome, winner of the 2017 Weatherford Award. Her writing has been featured in Rattle and Still: The Journal, and on The Writer’s Almanac, American Life in Poetry, Verse Daily and Poetry Daily. Pauletta was Cincinnati’s first Poet Laureate (2016- 2018).

Wednesday, April 22, 2020


by Gail White

Image source: Tehran Times, April 22, 2020

A truth we’d rather see removed
now stares us in the face:
how much the planet is improved
without the human race.

Now hatchling turtles on the beach
escape in seaward flight.
In Africa’s deserted streets
the lion sleeps tonight.

Now dolphins leap from their lagoon
and wave excited tails,
while goats go sauntering among
the shuttered shops of Wales.

So every passing day would find
the earth more fresh and green
if only all of humankind
would stay in quarantine.

Gail White is a formalist poet and a contributing editor to Light. Her most recent collections are Asperity Street and Catechism. She lives in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, with her husband and cats. 


by George Salamon

Cartoon by Dave Granlund via The Philadelphia Inquirer

"Destruction of wildlife and the climate crisis is hurting humanity, with Covid-19 a clear 'warning shot,' say experts.” —The Guardian, March 25, 2020

When the light dies,
Darkness will perish.
When the earth crumbles,
The clouds will fall.
When the oceans sink,
The wind will remain still.
When the Angel passes,
Death will follow.

George Salamon lives and writes in St. Louis, MO.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020


by Howie Good

Hundreds of protestors gathered outside the Ohio Statehouse on Saturday, April 18, 2020, calling for state officials to lift restrictions now, including this car with an anti-Semitic sign. (Laura Hancock /

They seized you at your home
and dragged you away,
and though we searched for you in the after years,
we found no trail or trace.
It was as if you had never really existed
but were always only a false memory,
a rumored ghost.

I also am as nothing,
and whether I shamble along the street
or stumble up the staircase,
whether I pray to God for preservation
or curse him for the inventiveness of his cruelties,
the same ancestral nightmares repeat –
swastikas smeared on synagogues,
bearded Jews harried through the streets,
hearts shoveled like coal into the fire.

Editor's Note: Today, April 21, 2020 is Holocaust Remembrance Day—Yom Hashoah—in the United States. It marks the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

Howie Good is the author of What It Is and How to Use It (2019) from Grey Book Press, among other poetry collections.

Monday, April 20, 2020


by Mark Spicknall

The carny artist makes black scribbles,
laughing, a good game, a show.
He can do us in a minute,
the fastest ever, he says,
his lines a rusty sideshow ride
careening through funnel cake fog.
We are there somewhere,
points on a line we’ve fallen into,
rising, screaming, then falling
into a bell-shaped dead silence.

     He laughs and laughs.

Author’s note:  On the feeling that too often creeps in watching the daily White House coronavirus briefings.

Mark Spicknall is a manufacturing and business consultant, a sailor settled in the mountains, who writes to try to make sense of the tides, the climbs, storms and the stars.

Sunday, April 19, 2020


by Marjorie Maddox

Print by jolieguillebeau

A “thing,” perhaps,
and fowl,
       but bloody-
dipped in disease
and plummeting,
the sky-high                       yours/mine
                   violently de-plumed,
bald as a vulture,
               fickle flight undone
in this freefall frenzy of fear
to doom
become dust

what we don’t know
            and void
become dark, become
                         the dawn crack
of Eden on replay
and maybe—hope against hope—
the “warm breasts, bright wings”
of Spirit hovering,
readying its weary-
world nest
for wings.

Marjorie Maddox has published 11 collections of poetry, a short story collection, an anthology (co-editor), and 4 children's books.

Saturday, April 18, 2020


by Julia Meylor

Credit: Mauritshuis, The Hague

      In response to The Goldfinch, Carel Fabritius, 1654

We, too, sing behind locked doors, sweet bird.
Bound by restraints of fear, desire, the absurd.
We listen to operas, Broadway musicals, country western, jazz,
our deafening heartbeats, razzamatazz.
We open wide our patio doors to blast our fancy stereos,
to strum our guitars, to serenade our masked heroes.
We ask Alexa to drown out our loneliness, our unrest,
our entitled nonessentialness.

Tethered bird, we are appeased by sweet useless notes
that spin off to full pink moons and aligned planets.
Simple refrains of all for one—lean on me, come together,
rise up, sweet Caroline. Alleluia.
But it is the specters on empty streets and poisoned ships
we fear as much as touching our face, our lips.
It is a choked scream echoing across a backyard fence,
why we soap our hands and rinse.

Oh, feathered thing, keep vigil on your solitary throne,
feed us the seeds of a hopeful tune we can call our own.
For we are stumbling blindly into a craven new world,
with no elixir, no redeemer, no magic sword.
Give us this day, this week, this greening season of hush.
Show us how to bless it all without human touch.
For we are chastened by all we thought we knew,
by all we’ve lost, by all we cannot do.

Julia Meylor, of Groton, Connecticut, is a published poet and essayist, freelance editor, proofreader, and occasional babysitter. She retired in 2018 after working as a corporate communications manager, high school English teacher, and newspaper editor. Her poems have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies. She shares her poems, essays, and photography in her blog, Between Land and Sky, and she loves words almost as much as her grandchildren.

Friday, April 17, 2020


by David Feela

Launch of the Montgolfier hot air balloon, Versailles, September 19,  1783

By the time the postponed IRS deadline arrives
the coronavirus may have circled the globe
a few more times. Still, at least a year
before you declare that smaller income,
due to a lay off, or a business closing down
when the traditional cash flow failed to levitate
like little green carpets on a magic profit ride.

Who would have predicted it requires a lifetime
to recover from the death of a loved one
so suddenly seized by the thumbs, no time to pack,
as if lifted by a balloon—a Montgolfier feat—
beyond belief, these abiding incalculable losses.

David Feela writes columns for The Four Corners Free Press and The Durango Telegraph. Unsolicited Press released his newest chapbook Little Acres.


by Doug Bolling

North wind just off the sea
Heavy freighters out there now
Slowing toward a final turn
To harbor and rest against an
Unforgiving roil and smash of
Moon bent wave.

Rest I think rest.
What does it bring to we the
Toilers whether far out or
Crouching beside the door
Of a virus caught loved one.
No answer that holds, no
Roseate bloom out of the
Shadows of a dirt laden

We have buried two and soon
The third.
John in his artificial sleep
Barely visible through the
Frosted window, single
Portal between death
And life,
So narrow the difference.

Only a month ago I stood as
John the mariner of seas
Of thought in endless books
And beyond paused in a
New York street to embrace
A begging man in thin coat
And desperate mien.

I believe money passed
Between two sets of eyes
Locked in some version

Of eternity. I witnessed
Hugs and tears in those
Sudden moments and the
Brief silence that speaks
Of a more, more, some
Mystery perhaps outside
The rumble and screech
Of profit driven days.

Eternity or not an old man
Trapped in an unseeing
Wasteland holds his stance
Winter or spring and the best
Friend I will ever have waits
For his final breath below
Clang and clatter of a
Temporary grace.

Doug Bolling’s poems have appeared in Posit, Basalt, Blue Collar Review, Kestrel, The Missing Slate (with interview), and Writers Resist among others. He lives in the outlands of Chicago.


by Brooke Herter James

when it means pushing
the bureau across the bare floor
to jam the door shut   hiding

behind the curtain    cowering
beneath the chair   between the legs
of someone bigger  stronger

when we know the scary
inside is worse than
the whatever out there

can we open the windows
and take off our masks
just long enough to scream?

Brooke Herter James is a poet and children’s book author living in Vermont.


by D.B. Goman

When the world started to end
the other day there was still
a glass of water the soup on
the gas stove the bills delivered
to laptop the car to pick up
meds the warm lamp by a bed
for novels and monthly mags
the vents with cool air the plane
ticket to Tobago hot on fridge
the spin of dryer the stupid
tv talk-show hosts the friends
inside a phone happy to shoot
every thing made or about to be

I also was a lover before now
before the imagination’s other
half grew strong clouds in eyes
before the virus killed all I knew
as love walking in nature wanting
more when my hand was held
and a river sang with us as trees
on guard let us laugh with birds
in nest and we took for granted
blossoms and I thought I knew
myself because we did try so
hard to know each other then
before I learned the world wasn't
ours and things stopped working

How long is long this simply goes
on with the fear of just beyond
the door I don’t know who’s next
door right now is there someone
next door I don’t hear a thing
I don’t speak anymore I don’t
dare the old dreams are there in
the shadows at upstairs window
across the yard I want it there
I don’t can’t want it so beautiful
a picture of arms knees hair
neck wrists ears thighs shoulder
blades unprocessed I can’t be
sure a chip in glass and whatever

isn’t there isn’t thinking this too

D.B. Goman continues to be upset that he wasn't born with real wings. And a stinger. For penance, many of his poems and essays have been published in a variety of journals including Ditch, Quarry, Eye Magazine, 2River View, Jones Av., Travel Mag, The Literary Bohemian, 2 Bridges Review. A collection of poems is forthcoming this autumn.

Thursday, April 16, 2020


by David Radavich

See what pure narcissism
brings forth: a great rot
in the communal apple.

The body politic
spoils top to bottom
and back again.

Every inequity
becomes deadly
as a snake.

We have long since
been thrown out
of the garden.

We roam streets
like zombies
in search of medicine
and care.

How can we be
one family

and not hug
our neighbors
as ourselves?

Pathogens know
our vulnerabilities
and strike
with clear knives.

In the dark night

we become
what we do
for one another.

David Radavich's latest narrative collection is America Abroad: An Epic of Discovery (2019), companion volume to his earlier America Bound: An Epic for Our Time (2007). Recent lyric collections are Middle-East Mezze (2011) and The Countries We Live In (2014). His plays have been performed across the U.S. and in Europe.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020


by Rick Mullin

“Hokusai Meets Fibonacci with Numerical Sequence” by Ars Brevis

We did this to ourselves, we say. The sirens
rise and fall disparaging the soul.
Alarms are nothing new in these environs,
but the silence in between them takes its toll.
We did this to ourselves, we tell ourselves
in voices silent as the thoroughfares,
not understanding how, but understanding.
We sense a culmination. Our affairs
are not in order. We aren’t cleared for landing
in our soundless silver aircraft as it shelves
in clouds above the towers of Manhattan.
The numbers coming down are a distraction
as the news rolls in a Fibonacci pattern.
The mounting body count is an abstraction.
The sunlight in the courtyard overwhelms.

Rick Mullin's newest poetry collection is Lullaby and Wheel.


by Mark Ward

There’s that meme of James Franco ‘bout to be
hanged. He smiles, asks “First Time?” The text reads “Gays:”

as if they’re asking the straights now with them
(and of course it’s him, confused peacocking),

referring to both of the viruses
I’m scared of. Their first time to be ignored,

to feel helpless and, literally, alone.
First time kept out of the hospital room,

to be told they have died, second-hand.
It’s not the same though. The world didn’t stop

for us. The summer sun showed thinned-out prides,
detached eyes staring. Now, we’re all locked down,

look at how the world has come together,
look at all we could have achieved back then.

Mark Ward is the author of Circumference (Finishing Line Press, 2018) and Carcass (Seven Kitchens Press), as well as a full-length collection, Nightlight (Salmon Poetry, 2022). He is the founding editor of Impossible Archetype, an international journal of LGBTQ+ poetry, now in its fourth year.


by Eryn Murphy
'The Invisible Wall' Canvas Art by Roswitha Schleicher Schwarz 

One day, this will all be over.
But the history books will not capture
the acute pain of wanting someone
just out of reach.

Immunocompromised, I cannot shop for myself.
The only time I leave my apartment
is to walk my dog.
It’s terrifying how quickly
this unfamiliarity became ordinary.

I am reminded of how much things have changed
every time a friend brings me groceries.
They stand over six feet away wearing a mask,
the groceries disinfected on the ground between us.

Sometimes I think it would be easier not to see them.
Their presence triggers a painful memory,
and the longer we talk the worse it feels.
It’s torture to have them this close.

As we stand with an invisible wall between us,
six feet might as well be six thousand feet.
They are close enough I can
see their smile lines and hear their laugh,
but I miss them more than I did before.

I long for their touch
and ache to be embraced.
I mourn all the hugs I took for granted
as they stand across from me,
just close enough for me to miss.

Eryn Murphy is a journalist and writer based in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her healthcare pieces have been published in The Mighty and Girls With Guts. Eryn can be found on Twitter @smurph_95.


by Betsy Mars

“The acre of grass is a sleeping swarm of locusts,
and in the house beside it,
tears too are mistaken” for a dark sea,
into which we dip our egg
hoping it will ignite in fertility,
that it will part, a million times—
or whatever is needed—

dividing into heart, lung, legs,
the brain and whatever refrain
we choose to utter
on this, one of the holy days,
to mark our division, and our coming together
a tribe in the end, passed over,
we find our bitter herbs
our unleavened bread

our toilet paper and paper towels shared:
the treasures of this day,
when we marked our doors,
hid inside and hoped to God
he’d pass us by.

Betsy Mars is a poet, educator, photographer, and occasional publisher. Her Kingly Street Press published its first anthology, Unsheathed: 24 Contemporary Poets Take Up the Knife, in October 2019. Her work has recently appeared in Verse-Virtual, The Blue Nib, The Ekphrastic Review, and Silver Birch Press. The daughter of a professor and a social worker, she has had a lifelong interest in issues pertaining to social justice.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020


by Howie Good

Punk musicians who overdosed in flophouses,
and child refugees who died in the camps,

and American soldiers killed in Afghanistan,
they pass each other on the worm-eaten staircase,

some shambling along, others racing up the steps,
but just about all of them sneakily whispering,

“Has anyone found T***p’s soul? Anyone?”

Howie Good is the author most recently of Stick Figure Opera: 99 100-word Prose Poems from Cajun Mutt Press. He co-edits the online journals Unbroken and UnLost.


A Collection of Shorts on Close Confidants and Secrets Shared in Public Spaces Now Shuttered as Civil Liberties and Lives Lived in Previously Precarious Situations Ripe with Bitter Herbs that Burn Suddenly Collapse in Ruin. Coffee Shops Close. Close Confidants Cancel. Friend. Help. 

by Jen Schneider

Abortion rights advocates asked the Supreme Court on Saturday night to overturn part of the Texas governor’s sweeping ban on abortions during the coronavirus pandemic—the first of similar restrictions to reach the high court. Texas and several Republican-led states that have long led the legal battle to restrict abortion have sought to cut off access as the health crisis escalated in recent weeks, contending the procedure would drain medical resources. —Politico, April 11, 2020. Graphic: a frame from the comic strip “What We Do In a Crisis” by JB Brager at The Nib.

Three weeks late…

Can you talk? It’s urgent. 
Sure, let’s meet at 2. The usual spot.
Thank you, friend.

Secrets shared around tiny, cluttered wood tables. Laden with initials
etched as markers of time and trust, steaming mugs of cocoa—decaf, 
of course,—circular plates of rectangular toast, and square pats of butter. 
Nearby, glass cases protect cinnamon glazed pastries, petit-fours in pale
pinks, greens, and blues, and everything bagels with smears of chive
and onion cream cheese. Origami folded napkins stacked high. Ready.
All perfectly posed and poised for patrons, confidants, and shared secrets.

Public spaces 
pull necessary truths 
outward in shared spaces 
built of security and safety.

Steam soaked air shields salt-soaked tears and paves a path for pure 
talk. Honest voices pour over real options. Plans. Denim clad legs locked 
to silence shaking knees. Brown eyes close quickly as pent up breath 
releases pressing Truth: I need help. Now. A weekend away, one meant 
to heal wounds and smooth scars, turned soft tissue into hard calluses. 
Weak spots and weaknesses for lost laughter and sentimental talk, yield 
decisions with consequences. My regular clock stopped ticking. New life beats.

Now I know. I am in trouble. With bills already unpaid and tempers
that flare daily, I need help. A life in fear of daily taunts, weekly affronts,
and constant slights is a life mine own but not one I choose for the life 
that brews within when the capacity without is full.

As words whimper and fade, secret codes speak clearly. Pointer finger 
taps twice for Yes. Ring finger taps once for No.

Code conveyed on coffee-stained napkins as speakers stream classic rock 
tunes and patron chatter fuels and fires blankets that shield fresh wounds.

Have you told him? Yes. 
What did he say? No.
Are you sure? Yes.
I’ll go with you. 
Thank you, friend.

Three weeks later...

Can you meet? Please. 
I can’t. Nor can you. 
Are you safe? Can we meet online?
Let’s try. Thank you, friend.

Secrets mouthed over cluttered linoleum tabletop piled high with envelopes 
hosting bills overdue and pot-filled sink backdrops. Dog howls and television 
talk filter through climate-controlled air. Shadows loom and linger in adjacent 
room out of view—beyond reach and touch.

Private spaces 
push necessary truths 
inward in shared spaces 
ripe of insecurity and fear

Fingers fiddle chipped coffee cup—a gift from years prior—as laptop screens 
twitch and glitch. Friendly face emerges in pixelated view. Fingers lock and unlock 
in solitary fashion. Seek fodder, find fear. Newfound fears simmer like the skinned potatoes that drop, then boil, on the electric stove. Naked. Alone. Words mouthed 
in hushed whispers. When words endanger, secret codes speak clearly. 
Right eye blinks twice for Yes. Once for No

Procedures deemed no longer urgent as domains of urgency morph 
into spheres set for others to determine. Appointments stalled then paused.
Now ceased. Fears of drained medical resources drain safety nets—and sanity. 
Office shuttered. Governor said No.

Wait. What? Say that again. I can’t hear you.
Drained safety. Drained sanity. Don’t know what else to do.

Messages flick across digital screens. Internet connections also unstable. 
Now lost. Faces freeze. Blink. Blip. Disappear. Shadows from rooms 
adjacent loom larger. Closer. Close. Here. 

Three o’clock. Today.

As thoughts and lives beat on—consumed with an unplanned and uncertain 
future—the usual turns extraordinary and days marked by patterns etched 
in previously fine-turned moves and moods—turn unpredictable, close 
confidants and coffee shop camaraderie turn essential though forbidden.

Civil liberties in question. 
Threads fray as ropes tighten. 
Throats, Bellies, Hearts ache. Help.

Jen Schneider is an educator, attorney, and writer. She lives, writes, and works in small spaces throughout Philadelphia. Recent work appears in The Popular Culture Studies Journal, Bat City Review, Zingara Poetry Review, Streetlight Magazine, Chaleur Magazine, LSE Review of Books, and other literary and scholarly journals.