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Friday, July 31, 2020


by George Salamon

Those We’ve Lost include (clockwise from top left): Terrence McNally, Hailey Herrera, Alan Finder, Dave Edwards, Lorena Borjas, Joseph Migliucci, Jenny Polanco, Dez-Ann Romain. The New York Times

The coronavirus pandemic has taken an incalculable death toll. This series is designed to put names and faces to the numbers. —"Those We've Lost," The New York Times, updated on July 29, 2020

What do we see when
We stare at the faces,
A few culled from many?
When we turn away, does
The moment linger, while
We seek light to banish
Darkness, even as the
Dying proceeds, each
Death meant to diminish
Us, to confront pain we
Deny, plunging us back
Into moral ignorance in
Which we are born?
Days later, when  we see the
Photo of a girl who survived,
Standing by her grandparents'
House amid fields of corn, do
We glance upward, above the
Girl, to the barely visible layers
Of Blue, hiding the sky, the sky
No longer giving us answers we
Don't know how to hear.

George Salamon has recently contributed to Dissident Voice, The Asses of Parnassus, One Sentence Poems, and TheNewVerse.News from St. Louis, MO.


by Earl J Wilcox

5:43AM is a calm, almost cool
sunrise hour in June when we
arrive at the ER. My grand-
daughter has felt ill all night—
feverish, frightened, nauseated.
My son, her uncle, drives us
to a busy hospital where large
numbers of virus patients
are being tested and treated.

At this early hour, the parking
lot is almost bare. The ER
entrance is well-lit, peaceful,
almost as if waiting just for us.
We are fearful, on edge.
My old heart pounds, palms
sweat. Being calm is not my
strong suit this summer morning.
As I think about all I’ve heard
about COVID-19, I tremble.
But I am not the one sick today.

At the ER entrance, a cadre of kind
people smocked, masked, gloved,
shrouded beyond recognition with
friendly eyes, helpful gestures as
they greet us in plastic blue hues.
The ER quartet is efficient not
hurried—patient as my granddaughter
slowly exits our car, walks unsteadily
toward the first station of the triage.
She turns, waves, slowly fades into the ER.

Living in South Carolina, a virus hot spot, Earl Wilcox happily reports his family is still free of Covid-19.

Thursday, July 30, 2020


by Penelope Scambly Schott

Yes, the singing, the speakers,
relatives, co-workers, mayor,
yes, three former presidents
(though not the racist-in-office),
their memories, tributes, praise,
but today it was the audience
in the Ebenezer Baptist Church,
that place sanctified by history,
how we, listening on the radio
to the speeches and applause,
could also hear people breathe
and hold their breaths, call out,
respond, agree, speak it aloud.
Say it, brother. Say it, sister. Amen.

Penelope Scambly Schott is a past recipient of the Oregon Book Award for Poetry. Recent books are House of the Cardamom Seed  and November Quilt.  Forthcoming is On Dufur Hill, a sequence of poems about a small (pop. 623) wheat-growing town in central Oregon.


by Gus Peterson

Person, woman, man, camera, TV.
A thousand names written off today.
Now who will speak for me?

Phase-10. Skip-Bo. Niece, giver, EMT.
Eight shots. No more cards to play.
Person, woman, man, camera, TV.

Mentor. Driver. Athlete. Father, see:
he took a knee. Nothing more to say.
Who will speak for me?

In Portland, Chicago, New York, DC:
the unnamed, the masked, gassed away.
Person, woman, man, camera, TV.

George. Tamir. Trayvon. Sandra. Bre.
No one said their names today.
Please, someone speak to me.

Thoughts come, they stay, they flee.
A thousand more names to say.
Person, woman, man, camera, TV:
speak for us. We can’t breathe.

Gus Peterson lives in Maine.


by Joan Mazza


Dr. Stella Immanuel runs Fire Power Ministries,
promotes a dose of  hydroxychloroquine—
sure cure for COVID-19, no distancing
or smothering masks needed.

This doctor dares those in power to offer up
their urine samples, so certain they all
take a daily dose, claims medical experts
use alien DNA in treatments. She prays

in Jesus name for God to take down
all of Facebook’s servers. Don’t you know
the government is run by Reptilians
and other aliens? If you dream of sex—

you’ve encountered an incubus
or succubus, are now contaminated
with demon sperm, known cause
of endometriosis, miscarriage, and gay

desire. A vaccine is being designed
to make you lose religion. Beware:
the liberal media hides these truths. They’ll
implant you, track you, if you let them.

Religion made me lose religion, before my
vaccines for yellow fever and pneumonia.
Blame my dates with demons so generous
with sperm. I await passion, or any gay desire.

Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist and psychotherapist, and has taught workshops nationally with a focus on understanding dreams and nightmares. She is the author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Penguin/Putnam), and her poetry appears in Rattle, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner (forthcoming), The MacGuffin, and The Nation. She lives in rural central Virginia, where she writes is daily poem.


by Alan Catlin

Photo by Samuel Corum <@corumphoto>, July 9, 2020

Highly recommended
and “very impressive”
says COVID-45
medical Doctor
Stella Immanuel
who touts,

“Real-life ailments such as fibroid
tumors and cysts stem from the
demonic sperm after demon dream sex.”

Assures us that
is an effective curative
despite irrefutable evidence
to the contrary.

Is poised to make
Rosemary’s Baby
the official movie
of the White House
and decrees everyone
should watch it,

treat it as fact.

Pool reporters
ask if COVID-45
auditioned for
the part of sequel,
Baby All Grown Up

“I didn’t have to
audition.” 45 says.

Alan Catlin has published dozens of chapbooks and full-length books, including the chapbook Three Farmers on the Way to a Dance (Presa Press), a series of ekphrastic poems responding to the work of German photographer August Sander who did portraits of Germans before, during, and after both World Wars.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020


by Tricia Knoll

Photos by Morley Knoll

Portland people march. That’s what we do when called from our desks, our beds, classrooms, jobs. We know our history. The KKK. Davenport Flood. Japanese internment. Redlining. Gentrification.

We thread the blocks downtown like needles seeking to bind up frayed fabric. From four directions we come for Pride, Black Lives, climate change, our left-coast city. To the county whose votes determine how the state goes.

We mantra our weirdness, embrace the smallest park in the world and the largest city park. We drink micro-brews and unfiltered water. Bicycle repair shops feature espresso drinks.

We dress for the seasons’ rain, umbrellas good against gas. Leaf-blowers to blowback aerosols sifting down on our masks, homemade or for gas. Hockey and lacrosse sticks to return the cannisters to behind the fence.

Maybe we come naked, exposed, worried and afraid or angry and loud. A city's tradition of riding a bike naked from the top of the hills to the river.

Smell the Riot Ribs in the parks between City Hall, Portlandia, the Fed Building, Courthouses. The hostas were once lush there. A bronze statue of a white pioneer points the way as if native people never lived here in large numbers on the riverbank where salmon spawned upstream and century-old trade routes converged.  

We are moms, the displaced, overlooked, veterans, church-goers, atheists, the beaten on and the upbeat who walk and cry for a better day. For justice.

Board up Tiffany’s. Board up the banks.The Pioneer Place shopping mall. The artists come to paint. Show howbacks are stabbed. They give us the dead and butterflies that hope, list the names so we can say them again and again. We know this history. It was nothing to cheer about.

We also know that the untrained federal storm troopers, the mercenaries paid under contract, must go. Must go. Must go

Tricia Knoll moved recently from Portland, Oregon to Vermont to be near family. She lived in Portland for 45 years, worked in the Portland Building, lunched in all the parks adjacent to the courthouse, City Hall, and the Federal Building. She has marched and marched over many years on Portland's streets.


by Randy Mazie

We’re breaking into your homes though inconvenient it might be.
We’re going to make sure that you’re as “safe as safe can be.”

We’ve reports of violent protests around your neighborhood.
Yet as far as we can see, your family is good.

If you’ve any family members who could act out violently.
We may cart them off in unmarked cars. guilty prima facie.

This would be for their protection, again “safety is the key.”
And if no one knows where they’re taken, they’re as “safe as safe can be.”

Please do not tell anyone, because our operation you’d jeopardize.
We strongly urge you to keep quiet—talking would not be wise!

Again, we do this for your safety. We’re sure you understand
that the actions that we’re taking secure all Der Homeland.

Randy Mazie wanders the North Georgia Mountains after living in South Florida and growing up in New York City. He’s had the best of all color-filled worlds: the Big Apple, the Balmy Orange and now the Beautiful Blue Ridge. He has Master's Degrees in Social Work from Columbia University and Business Administration from Barry University. His non-fiction has been published in professional journals, fiction in Defenestration, and poetry in numerous media including Light, The MacGuffin, DASH, and the Anthology of Transcendent Poetry, Cosmographia Books, 2019.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020


by Pepper Trail

Spawning Sockeye Salmon, Lake, a photograph by Nick Hall at fineartamerica. A male sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) catches its breath after stranding itself in very shallow water, Hanson Creek, Lake Aleknagik, Bristol Bay, Alaska, USA 4th August 2008. 

     T***p officials concluded Friday that a proposed gold and copper mine in Alaska—which would be the largest in North America—would not pose serious environmental risks, a sharp reversal from a finding by the Obama administration that it would permanently harm the region’s prized sockeye salmon.

     The official about-face regarding the bitterly contested project epitomizes the whiplash that has come to define environmental policy under President Trump, who has methodically dismantled many of his predecessor’s actions on climate change, conservation and pollution.
     A final environmental analysis issued Friday by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers found that Pebble Mine—which targets a deposit of gold, copper and other minerals worth up to $500 billion —“would not be expected to have a measurable effect on fish numbers” in the Bristol Bay watershed, which supports the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery. The Washington Post, July 25, 2020

My sisters, we are too many
The gift that we give, that we are
Is too generous
The rhythm of our lives, our faithful renewal
Is too reliable

To be valuable, we must be scarce
To be scarce, we must be destroyed
We will be destroyed

The gold, the copper
(You remember, that thin metal taste
      upon your lips in the sweet water)
That is scarce
That is valuable
For that, the earth will be moved
The mountains cut apart
The rivers choked in their beds

The gold, the copper
That can be taken, locked up, sold
Each gram worth more, until all is gone
Leaving nothing but the residue
The pure residue  -

With that money, someday
It may be possible for the few
The very few
To buy a few ounces of our flesh
Our wild flesh

Nothing like it in the world, they will say

Nothing like it left in the world

Pepper Trail is a poet and naturalist based in Ashland, Oregon. His poetry has appeared in Rattle, Atlanta Review, Spillway, Kyoto Journal, Cascadia Review, and other publications, and has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net awards. His collection Cascade-Siskiyou was a finalist for the 2016 Oregon Book Award in Poetry.

Monday, July 27, 2020


by Peleg Held

A nude protester—dubbed later “Naked Athena"—faces off against law enforcement officers during a protest against racial inequality in Portland, Ore., on July 18. Credit Nathan Howard/Reuters via The New York Times.

Omnes vero se Britanni vitro inficiunt, quod caeruleum efficit colorem. —Julius Caesar, The Gallic Wars

She fingers the blue on slowly, feralled in its wake;
she counts the steps from inside out the fenced-in fields of grace.

A vitrumned likeness wavers, a cats-lick from the rim,
in the tea cup in the circle of the saucer's closing ring.

Let the tongue tip shape the watchword in the shallows of its bow;
let sentry sleep and serpent sing beneath the shuddered vow.

Here is where their end is born; there is nothing at the gate
but ink and skin, the sylph herself: the cunt-directed state.

Caesar may misread you in the peripherals of his glass
or more likely overlook you, a needle in the grass

but as you plunge into his heel he will see the face
of what gives womb its dark and what gives blood its taste.

Peleg Held lives in Hiram, Maine with his partner and 21 chickens led by the world's tiniest rooster, Gavroche-That-Lives.


by Richard Garcia 

 I have been granted immunity from my dreams. Just let them try and testify against me. See how far they get on their own. My wife's tribe has begun their journey toward the promised trailer camp. Surely they shall be received and granted a plot of eminence. My wife has been sentenced to remain behind. We shall be protected by Sheela na gig, the naked goddess of history. Surely her maw of origin and its gnashing teeth will frighten away the storm troopers. Just a young woman really, sitting on the macadam with her arms and legs spread open in welcome, a garter snake wrapped around each wrist. But how the soldiers and their attached mob drop their banners in the clouds of teargas and run—they, who had cried out loud in the plaza, Long live death, Long live death! For creatures not accustomed to paradox, this was quite an achievement. Or would have been, if they knew what they were saying. No one knows who distributed the signs and banners. It was long ago. When these people could speak. When they could read, and listen and learn. When I began this testament I still thought it was tomorrow. But I know better now.

Richard Garcia's poetry books include The Other Odyssey from Dream Horse Press, The Chair from BOA, and Porridge from Press 53. His poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies. He has won a Pushcart prize and has been in Best American Poetry. He lives in Charleston, S.C.

Sunday, July 26, 2020


by Katherine West 

In the movies they dodge bullets
Jump back up and make jokes
Jack-in-the-boxes all of them
Good role models for poor folk

Who wake up screaming in the night
So loud throats hurt in the morning
Drive-by shootings only in the mind
Past, present, and dream all folding

Into tiny cranes too delicate to fly
Their origami necks long and thin
Wings stretched wide
Trying to remember wind

The lifting into something greater
Than sky yet made for paper

Katherine West is the author of three collections of poetry and one novel: Scimitar Dreams, The Bone Train, Riddle, and Lion Tamer, respectively.  She has had poetry published in Bombay Gin, Lalitamba, Tanka Journal, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, and TheNewVerse.News who nominated her poem "And Then the Sky" for a Pushcart Prize in 2019.  She lives in the mountains outside of Silver City, New Mexico where she translates Mexican revolutionary poetry and creates custom, hand-made poetry chapbooks.  


by John Guzlowski

"The Persistence of Memory" (1931) by Salvador Dali

Things are slowing down.

It takes me 2 days to drink a cup of coffee,
A week to read a book,
A month to water the bushes we re-planted in June.

I move from one room to another
looking for shoes I haven’t worn in 2 months.
If I come across my car keys
I won’t recognize them.

I’ve stopped listening to the news
Stopped looking out the window
Stopped wondering what tomorrow
Will be like.

I started this poem in March
Maybe I’ll finish it
By Christmas.

John Guzlowski's poems and stories have appeared in North American Review, Ontario Review, Rattle, Atlanta Review, Nimrod, Crab Orchard Review, and Salon. Garrison Keillor read his poem “What My Father Believed” on his program The Writers Almanac.  Guzlowski's poems have won the Eric Hoffer/Montaigne Award for most thought provoking book of 2017, the Ben Franklin Poetry Award, and the $7500 Illinois Arts Award for Poetry. 


by Earl J Wilcox

"The Queen of Spades" by Noumeda Carbone

Today—our last Sunday in July—
we fudge our usual routines.
No news shows, a quick glance
at the Sunday funnies, no church
service videos, not even asking
Alexa for some cool music.
Let’s be brave, forego allusions
to T***P, his desperate campaign,
send emails to friends in Portland,
only brief whispered prayers, no politics
as usual today. We agree to feed
the cats, refill the bird feeder, water
the lamb’s ear. A hot Carolina July
is normal enough. Aging plastic cards
are found, a family day for joy and peace
and hope. We spend the morning playing
our favorite card game, Hearts, in which
avoiding the dreaded Queen of Spades
is as much tension and grief we have
to give each other today

Earl Wilcox's back yard is open to squirrels, robins, and cotton tail rabbits. 

Saturday, July 25, 2020


by Judy Kronenfeld

John R. Lewis, 1940-2020

Given poverty, he created dignity.
Given indifference, he returned passion for justice.
Given intolerance, he expanded the meaning of tolerance.
Given violence, he gave his bashed-in skull.

He made himself the instrument of that oh-so-slowly bending arc—
so slow, it is easy to lose courage, but he didn’t.
Given venomous hatred, he returned love
because hate destroys the hater, and he knew it.

Parents, sit your children on your knees,
and explain to them—not marble
nor the gilded monuments,
nor lofty towers emblazoned—
explain to them what greatness is.

Judy Kronenfeld’s most recent collections of poetry are Bird Flying through the Banquet (FutureCycle, 2017), Shimmer (WordTech, 2012), and Light Lowering in Diminished Sevenths, 2nd edition (Antrim House, 2012)—winner of the 2007 Litchfield Review Poetry Book Prize. Her poems have appeared in Cimarron Review, Ghost Town, New Ohio Review, One (Jacar Press), Rattle, South Florida Poetry Journal, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and other journals, and in more than two dozen  anthologies. She is Lecturer Emerita, Department of Creative Writing, UC Riverside, and an Associate Editor of Poemeleon.

Friday, July 24, 2020


by Mark Danowsky

I spent a lot of time this week trying to come up with the best way to get those who make things in Silicon Valley to better understand the suicide of Alex Kearns, a student at the University of Nebraska. He killed himself after he mistakenly believed that he had a $730,000 negative balance on the millennial-popular Robinhood app, which he had downloaded to learn about investing. The tragedy got a lot of attention, especially after Forbes reported that Mr. Kearns left a note behind asking, “How was a 20-year-old with no income able to get assigned almost a million dollars of leverage?” How, indeed. —Kara Swisher, The New York Times, June 25, 2020

I am living in the after
After so much death
After so much unnecessary death
I am waiting on answers I will never receive
I am not alone in my waiting
I am waiting and waiting
I do not know how much I am willing to risk in the now
I do not want much
I do not want to give away the little I have
There is only so much we can claim as our own
I remember when we spoke of being lost in the fray
I am lost in the now
I am losing in the now
I am at a loss to name the meaning of now

Mark Danowsky is a poet / writer from Philadelphia and author of the poetry collection As Falls Trees (NightBallet Press, 2018). He’s Managing Editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal.


by Sister Lou Ella Hickman, I.W.B.S.

                                                                  stained traveled
                                   paralyzed          inability
                                monstrous      joy

Sister Lou Ella is a former teacher and librarian. Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines such as America, First Things, Emmanuel, Third Wednesday, and TheNewVerse.News as well as in four anthologies: The Night’s Magician: Poems about the Moon, edited by Philip Kolin and Sue Brannan Walker, Down to the Dark River edited by Philip Kolin, Secrets edited by Sue Brannan Walker, and After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events edited by Tom Lombardo. She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2017. Her first book of poetry entitled she: robed and wordless was published in 2015. (Press 53.)

Thursday, July 23, 2020


by Robert Knox


"What signifies the beauty of nature when men are base?" —Henry David Thoreau

He was thinking about the Fugitive Slave Act,
speaking at an anti-slavery rally along with Sojourner Truth in 1854
after Anthony Burns, who had escaped from bondage,
was arrested in Boston, where he has been
"working quietly in a clothing shop" on Beacon Hill.
It's just one more thing. It happens everywhere.
It's a tipping point.
Someone tips off a slave-catcher, they're hunting up North now,
empowered by federal law.
Burns is hauled before a special judge, in a special court,
created by the law to facilitate claims against persons of color
—"persons"! that Constitutional euphemism—by any white person.

Boston rallies and 'mobs' of protestors war with police,
seeking to free Burns, who is dragged through the streets
by federal marshals with guns drawn, guarded by an artillery regiment
and three platoons of marines, while thousands of angry locals
watch helplessly, cowed by force of arms.
Burns is returned to Virginia, shackled,
and flogged.

At the rally held in Framingham, Mass. on July 4, 1854.
Thoreau confided that he had suffered "a vast and indefinite loss"—
but, he asked himself, what was it? "At last it occurred to me
that what I had lost was a country."

And so, reading in yesterday's newspaper, and again today,
that armed thugs, "federal officers" culled from border police and ICE,
were firing weapons, hurling flash bombs,
and kidnapping protestors from the streets of Portland, Oregon,
where they had no lawful business to be
and where no assistance from the federal government
had been sought by local authorities—
but simply performing in the absence of all legal warrant
as T***p's chosen "Brown Shirts,"

I find myself thrown once again into days of  rage,
unsettled in my mind, as I too often have been
since the dark days of November 2016:
feeling deprived of something valuable, if imperceptible,
dear to me and to many,

that I too have 'lost my country,'
and that finding it again is no sure thing.

Robert Knox is a poet, fiction writer, Boston Globe correspondent, and the author of a novel based on the Sacco and Vanzetti case, titled Suosso's Lane. As a contributing editor for the online poetry journal Verse-Virtual his poems appear regularly on that site. They have also appeared in journals such as Off The Coast, The Journal of American Poetry, South Florida Poetry Journal, TheNewVerse.News, Califragile, and Unlikely Stories. His poetry chapbook Gardeners Do It With Their Hands Dirty, published in 2017, was nominated for a Massachusetts Best Book award. The chapbook Cocktails in the Wild followed in 2018. He was recently named the winner of the 2019 Anita McAndrews Poetry Award.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020


by Tricia Knoll

Russian hackers are attempting to steal coronavirus vaccine research, the American, British and Canadian governments said Thursday, accusing the Kremlin of opening a new front in its spy battles with the West amid the worldwide competition to contain the pandemic. —The New York Times, July 16, 2020

never stops, there is no finish line
when combatants push each other out of the way
and hide their secret weapons in pockets
filled with lint

and when one pushes another down,
he robs what is in that pocket and sniffs
at it like a dog with a dead frog
and maybe takes a nibble just to see

but what if the rules called for
holding what you know in your hands
palms out offering to share
for the common good

so everyone crosses the line
at the same time or like the basket
you put your coins in at church
knowing they’re meant to help someone

else in the human race.

Tricia Knoll is a Vermont poet hunkered in the deep woods. Her recent collection How I Learned To Be White received the 2018 Indie Book Award for Motivational Poetry.


by Terese Coe

"Did Trump Say More COVID-19 Testing Makes the US Look Bad? The president has been accused of forgetting the people behind the coronavirus case numbers. True." —Snopes

With the poor, poc, and seniors dead,
the Dotard and Bojo are raking in bread.
Few testing sites means few revivals,
no masks or meds, then no survivals.

The people spoke, but they were clawed
by racist, ageist dotard frauds.
The people spoke, the people died.
Covid was oversimplified.

Did Vladimir think of everything
for the cliques of the turkeys à la king?
It’s hardly a story you’ll find is new:
more for the toffs and nothing for you.

Terese Coe's poems and translations appear in Alaska Quarterly Review, Cincinnati Review, The Moth, New American Writing, New Scotland Writing, Ploughshares, Poetry, Poetry Review, The Stinging Fly, Threepenny Review, and the TLS, among others. Her collection Shot Silk was short-listed for the 2017 Poets Prize, and her poem "More" was heli-dropped across London for the 2012 Olympics Rain of Poems. Her most recent book is Why You Can’t Go Home Again, and her black comedy Harry Smith at the Chelsea Hotel was recently presented at Dixon Place, NY. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2020


by Sharon Olson

They call it the landscape of fear,
the sense that humans are near,
ears pricked to catch the menace
of car engines, commerce unabated.

So the deer were always nearby,
watching for safe spaces, as if
they might be able to read
the stickers on library doors.

The map has now been redrawn,
if the foxes can come out of hiding,
say the deer, then so can we,
nobody seems to be stopping us.

We are now hosting a family of deer,
our yard a new venue for outdoor dining,
our menu of specials features straight-up
hostas, day lilies, rosehips for dessert.

In dark of night, though, a new creature
has joined the neighborhood menagerie,
squirrels and mice beware, the fisher cat
pierces the silence with its strangling call.

Sharon Olson is a retired librarian who lives in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Her book The Long Night of Flying was published by Sixteen Rivers Press in 2006. Her second book Will There Be Music? was published by Cherry Grove Collections in 2019.


by Laura Rodley

No Covid here, just sleeping dog, sleeping cat,
no Covid here, doorknobs wiped off, laundry dry,
no Covid here, breeze courting sparrows and wrens,

no Covid here, the leaves of the maples turn it away,
no Covid here, the mice at the gates chew it away,
no Covid here, sparrows, rose breasted grosbeaks peck at its crumbs,

no Covid here, tomato plants flowering, lettuce plumping,
no Covid here, sleeping dog, sleeping cat, popsicles,
no Covid here, last night power outage, lightning bugs for lamps,

no Covid here, the chipmunks carry it away in fat cheeks,
no Covid here, porcupines shake their quills at it,
no Covid here, table umbrella up, providing shade,

no Covid here, alcohol preps in front hallway,
no Covid here, doorknobs wiped off, floors vacuumed,
no Covid here, front line Jim took navy shower, conserving water,

no Covid here, clothes off, decontaminated,
no Covid here, hands washed, twenty seconds, length of a long sigh,
no Covid here, watermelons holding onto their flowers,

no Covid here, only the clock ticked, told time, trembled,
no Covid here, candles on the table, matches, no flushing toilets,
no Covid here, lightning bugs gathered on screens, blinking,

no Covid here, neighbors wear no masks walking,
no Covid here, they say they had it, but could not get tested,
no Covid here, they say they can’t get the antibody test either,

no Covid here, antibody test hard to get, they work at home,
no Covid here, no internet, no wireless lightning bugs beating,
no Covid here, the fox carries away all corpses.

No Covid here, garter snakes keep guard in the garden,
no Covid here, maple tree leaves wave it along its way,
no Covid here, the grounds area guarded by field mice,

no Covid here, grass covered with spent dandelions, comfrey,
no Covid here, pathway into forest deep and long, but it ends.
No Covid here, sonic boom of jets propel it away,

no Covid here, rock and roll radio, oldies station,
no Covid here, new grass won’t allow it, nor the chipmunks.

Laura Rodley is a Pushcart Prize Winner. Her most recent books are Turn Left at Normal (Big Table Publishing) and Counter Point (Prolific Press).


by Lee Nash

NEOWISE—your one-size-fits-all comet,
or call me C/2020 F3—
I’m hardly striving for the poetic,
named for an infrared telescope. Find me
booming near the northwestern horizon,
gassing off through the zigzag stars of Lynx,
zooming to the Great Bear, and on
to you, dear Earthlings, to be your Jumbo Jinx.
A survivor—I’m back from the far side,
SOHO’s tracking my line; ATLAS and SWAN
are steam, their bodies disintegrated...
It’s enough to make a messenger wan.
Darlings, though I’m unpredictable,
I do my utmost to be a spectacle.

I’ll do my utmost to be a spectacle,
an astral show before I dissipate,
though it’s not under my control...
To miss me would be rather unfortunate.
If I die, I’ll light up your skies; if not,
see you in 8786!
Catch me chilling in Auriga’s chariot,
conscious of my mission to transfix –
that’s why I’m here, after all, to wake
you Homo sapiens from your dopey state.
A Sign to break crass rhythms, wipe this slick
of insolence from your brows, conflate
your problems with my stellar viewpoint,
at risk of putting all your noses out of joint.

Risking putting all your noses out of joint,
I really must make clear to you, the heat
is on—for you, not just for me. Climate
is a touchy subject, isn’t it?
Excuse me? What about your right
to holidays and international travel? Of course!
But from where I’m flying the desperate plight
of islanders is difficult to ignore:
I see grandmothers planting mangroves,
their bare feet sinking into deep water,
bushfires out of control, great de-frosts
and fry-ups, dwindling groundwater...
Hence, my humble attempt to purify
your thoughts with a brief, erratic fly-by.

Your thoughts. With a brief, erratic fly-by,
I’m unlikely to change your perspective.
You’re far too set in your ways by now; I
doubt I’ll get your attention. Forgive
my cynicism... But I’m no sungrazer,
no ice crystal who doesn’t give two hoots,
no bolide or passionless trailblazer,
no sympathetic meteor content to shoot
your wish. I am, please, apocalyptic.
Dears, don’t take this badly, but if I were
to stray from my elliptic,
and plunge into your globe, the saboteur
of your finest achievements... What calamity!
What tsunami of plastic debris!

What a tsunami of plastic debris
would wash up on your greasy sardined shores!
Breathe easy, the laws of physics constrain me,
and, of course, I obey the first cause –
a humble servant, not for me to preempt
the misfortunes of the Anthropocene:
I’m merely omen, harbinger, event –
though I’ve been around since Pleistocene.
Excuse me, my humor is misguided.
A world reeling from a harrowing plague,
you’re surely feeling a little jaded
and I fear my message is somewhat vague...
I shall try to be perfectly clear:
get your shit together or the end is near.

Get your shit together or the end is near.
It bears repeating, for you haven’t listened
to scientist or teenager—
instead, you surgically scrub your hands
from guilt. So here I am, NEO—your herald
in a modern guise, your two-tailed flare;
WISE—your perspicacious portent, errand
sent from heaven against your laissez-faire.
Doomsday. What a negative word that is.
Better to leave it to Hollywood,
enjoy it in a bucket seat, drinking cherry fizz.
We comets are misunderstood!
Does this seem like a game or a riddle?
While your ley lines warm up like a griddle?

While your ley lines warm up like a griddle,
you dream of investing in cooler climes,
treat my warning as tarradiddle,
for there’s no one to punish your eco-crimes.
Before I return to the depths of space,
please think of how you consume and pollute...
you’re an odium to the human race
and your energy drive just won’t compute.
Or else, I shall assume a death wish.
I’ve seen it many times on many rounds.
Celestial destroyers are not squeamish,
and sadly pale blue dots aren’t out of bounds.
For your cataclysm, I’m on it:
I’m NEOWISE—your one-size-fits-all comet.

Lee Nash writes poetry and flash fiction. Her work has appeared in diverse journals and anthologies, including Acorn, Ambit, Angle, Magma, Mezzo Cammin, Slice, and The Best Small Fictions 2019. Her first poetry chapbook Ash Keys was published by Flutter Press. She was a 2018 Bath Flash Fiction Award prizewinner, joint winner of the 2019 Princemere Poetry Prize, and is First Prize winner in Fish Publishing’s 2020 The Lockdown Prize (haiku and senryu category).

Monday, July 20, 2020


by Darrell Petska


The formerly democratic
North American republic
despoiled by an authoritarian regime
that ruled through extrajudicial measures
typified by deploying masked,
heavily armed federal agents
to suppress violently
civil protest and political expression,
consequently instilling a sense of fear

as in the bureaucratic authoritarianism
of Pinochet’s Chile
where federally dispatched agents
violently swept citizens away
to unknown locations
for intimidation, humiliation,
interrogation, and abuse—
acts later adjudged to be
crimes against humanity.

What was America?

Darrell Petska is a Middleton, Wisconsin writer.


by Jonel Abellanosa

Do we get to decide
what world we live in?
Old world babblers of peace and quiet,
birdsong in our neighborhood still treed.
I still believe tyranny isn’t armed
to the teeth. I still go to burial grounds
in a culture that holds
memory like a coffin


Placards and megaphones
alter streets, revulsion here to stay.
I’m familiar with the strange,
songs like barbed wires, grating
to my ears. I’m unable to think
with clarity, except that mine
isn’t the first religion
of public self-flagellation.

Jonel Abellanosa lives in Cebu City, the Philippines. He is a nature lover, an environmental advocate, and loves all animals particularly dogs. His poetry and fiction have appeared in hundreds of literary journals and anthologies, including Windhover, The Lyric, Star*Line, Poetry Kanto, Marsh Hawk Review, That Literary Review, Bosphorous Review of Books and The Anglican Theological Review. His poetry collections include Meditations (Alien Buddha Press), Songs from My Mind’s Tree and Multiverse (Clare Songbirds Publishing House), 50 Acrostic Poems (Cyberwit, India),  In the Donald’s Time (Poetic Justice Books and Art), and his speculative poetry collection Pan’s Saxophone (Weasel Press).

Sunday, July 19, 2020


by Sarah Sarai

32 mug shots of
Freedom Riders

arrested 24 May
1961 and jailed


John Lewis is
third from right

top row.
CT Vivian second

second from left.

Louisville KY

435 mug shots

as many protestors

saying her


are not yet

Add 400

Freedom Riders.
I can’t

find them

solid of will.

Sarah Sarai’s poems are in DMQ Review, The Southampton Review, E-Ratio, and others. Her second full-length collection is That Strapless Bra in Heaven (Kelsay Books). She lives in New York.


by George Salamon

Darkness & Light Art Print by Zeke Tucker

"Pessimism is a conscious filter which disarms ideologues and frees us to act in a practical manner.” —John Ralston Saul, The Doubter's Companion

The air all around our leader echoes with shouts,
His Tweets can not put the tiles that fell off the
Roof of his political temple back up, the storm of
Coronavirus has come and its furious waves grow
Denser, it bursts through masks and measurements
As it rages and more than 142,000 lives have gone down.
Our leader is concerned only with the quadrennial
Cockfight staged for us as Democracy while too many
Among us have lost touch with first things,as bands of
Rebels, marginalized and mocked, try to restore it,
In their own fashion, forcing us to see the state of our
Union from the short view, pitch in, waiting for the
Long view to stumble and stagger close enough to
Lead us to the light out of the darkness we chose.

George Salamon took to pessimism when he was a refugee kid in Switzerland during World War Two and the Holocaust, but he has not let it sour into cynicism. He lives and writes in St. Louis, MO, and most recently has contributed to The Asses of Parnassus, One Sentence Poems and TheNewVerse.News.


by James Penha

The New Yorker, July 20, 2020

"The Trump administration is trying to block billions of dollars for states to conduct testing and contact tracing in the upcoming coronavirus relief bill, people involved in the talks said Saturday." —The Washington Post, July 19, 2020

“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” —Sherlock Holmes

If America were ever
to have a President so
vile and blasphemous
to his oath—to preserve
and protect—he’d seek
at every turn of a poll
by means unfair and foul 
to dwindle rival voters
especially those of color…
should a pandemic come
to rage, like him, against
minorities and raze the poor
particularly, might he not ignore
or even encourage a plague
he deems allied to his future?

Saturday, July 18, 2020


by Jen Schneider

Florida Rights Restoration Coalition policy coordinators Sharon Madison, right, and Kellie Atterbury present Cynthia Craig with a receipt showing her last court payments have been paid at the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building in Miami in early March. (Scott McIntyre/For The Washington Post)

Washington, July 16, 2020 (CNN)The Supreme Court on Thursday said Florida can enforce a law barring ex-felons from voting if they still owe court fines or fees that they are unable to pay associated with their convictions. The unsigned order likely means the law will be in effect for the November election, although the court did not declare the law to be unconstitutional or limit ongoing court challenges. Liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan dissented. "This Court's order prevents thousands of otherwise eligible voters from participating in Florida's primary election simply because they are poor," Sotomayor wrote in the dissent. "This Court's inaction continues a trend of condoning (disenfranchisement)," she added.

She sat in her beat up Chevy on the right-hand side of the road. Window down, radio up. Oldies streamed ribbons of light in the unseasonably cool air. Beatles and Bruce, mainly. Billy Joel, too. Piano Man got her fingers moving. Her left arm dangled, fingers tapped the exterior car door panel. Striking notes a few inches above the door’s deeply dented exterior. Not unlike the beat she’d use for nightly rituals when imprisoned. She and the girls had a system. Tap, Tap, Tap. Intentional pauses and extended rhythms. A form of Morse code—of sorts. Everything was some sort of something in there. Generic and off brand only, of course. No matter. Always made them feel smart - smarter than the system. Only now, she realizes the system had them all along. Damn fines awaiting her release. The others’, too. Piles of unopened envelopes—stacked on the linoleum kitchen table. Most yellowed. Some stained in coffee, soda pop, and a mix of bitter jams. Never did understand how they expected her to pay those fines. Not until she could find work, that is. And even then. Didn’t they know she had babies to feed? Especially after having fed the mouths and egos of grown men for far too long and in far too many ways. Late at night, she and the others would dream of release day. Lofty talk of voting. Making change. In many ways the dreams got them through - and out. No matter most of them should never have been there in the first instance. Out was always the goal. On the other side, where the sun’s rays beat down on open backs, freshly washed heads, and bare feet - no socks, no shackles. Only to once again be silenced. And tied to a system with no conscience. She wasn’t having it. Sat curbside for upwards of six hours on primary day. Planned to do the same come election day. Until she’s welcome behind the curtain. No doubt, she’ll push buttons wherever permitted. Wherever tolerated, too. The passersby didn’t want to hear her talk. She knew it, but spoke no matter. Their voices mattered. Of course they do. As does hers.

When systems lay bare their many flaws and faults that serve only to penalize those for whom change is most needed, and work only to silence the voices of those for whom there is no recourse, and far too must resignation for there is too often no other way, on whom does the opportunity to speak rest and on whom does the responsibility to act fall—yet too often falter?

Signatures are checked
as licenses are confirmed.
Go ahead, Sir. Please.

Old fines resurface
to silence a right to vote.
Not today, Ma’am. No.

Dusty curtains drop
as inside voices whisper.
Seal the status quo.

Red painted fingers
tap as outside voices speak.
Time for change is now.

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

Friday, July 17, 2020


by Michael L. Ruffin

Cartoon appears with permission. All right reserved.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp sues Atlanta's mayor to stop her from requiring masks as COVID-19 cases skyrocket. —Yahoo! News, July 17, 2020

Here in Georgia,
we have folks who
are neat and organized,
and we have folks who
are disheveled and chaotic.

In short, some of
us are kempt,
and some of
us are unkempt.

Sadly, from a gubernatorial
perspective, we are
universally Kemped,
which means to be
governed by someone
with little regard for science
and less concern for people
(“DeSantised” is a
close synonym).

We have mayors
doing their best to
lead in unKemped
ways by adopting
science and compassion-
driven policies. But the
governor is trying to
stop them from doing
all they can to save
lives because—well, I
don’t know why.
Politics, I guess.
And power.

Anyway, I hope when
November 2022 arrives,
Georgia will become
the most unKemped
state in the nation.

Michael L. Ruffin is a writer, editor, preacher, and teacher living and working in Georgia. He posts poems on Instagram (@michaell.ruffin) and prose opinions at On the Jericho Road. He is author of Fifty-Seven: A Memoir of Death and Life and  of the forthcoming Praying with Matthew. His poetry has appeared at TheNewVerse.News and is forthcoming in 3 Moon Magazine and Rat's Ass Review.