Call for Pandemic Poetry Submissions


Due to the overwhelming response to our four Pandemic Issues we published in April, and continued interest, we will once again publish poetry concerning the pandemic. Please send us your best work and how the pandemic has affected you, your neighborhood, and your country. As the virus continues its unrelenting attack, we urge all to be safe and wear a mask.

Send your submission in one Word doc. with no more than four poems, including a 50 word bio. Please send to . The deadline for submissions to the new pandemic issue is August 10thDue to the anticipated response we will not be able to respond to each individual submission and all submissions received after August 10th will be discarded.

North of Oxford presents The Pandemic Issues.

North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue #1

North of Oxford- The Pandemic Issue #2

North of Oxford- The Pandemic Issue #3

North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue #4



Summer Reading Recommendations Based on readership- Top fifteen books reviewed at North of Oxford January – July 2020


The War Still Within: Poems of the Korean Diaspora by Tanya Ko Hong

Soul Sister Revue: A Poetry Compilation by Cynthia Manick (editor)

ÜBERCHEF USA by Jennifer Juneau

The Dead Kid Poems by Alexis Rhone Fancher

What the Owl Taught Me by Annest Gwilym

Paper Bells by Phan Nhiên Hạo (Translated by Hai-Dang Phan

The Weight of Bodily Touches by Joseph Zaccardi

On an Acre Shy of Eternity: Micro Landscapes at the Edge by Robert Dash

The Elvis Machine by Kim Vodicka

Obit by Victoria Chang

Getting to Philadelphia: New and Selected Poems by Thomas Devaney

Someone’s Utopia by Joe Hall

Library Rain by Rustin Larson

Flow by Beth Kephart

In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado



Ten Most Read Poetry Posts at North of Oxford – January – July 2020


Gypsy Blood by Wesley Scott McMasters

North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue #2

North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue # 3

North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue #1

North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue #4

War of Elements by Akshaya Pawaskar

As Promised, the fire by David P. Kozinski

This Land is Full of Noises by Robert Nisbet

Perspective by Robbi Nester

Medusa’s #Metoo by Luanne Castle





Half-Spoon by Stephen Mead

Your memory to meet,
on the sheets, here, a line—–
Bed of no division, only absence,
when your flesh fit well &
the entire night can have fragments
re, re-collecting…
Sharp then, the seizing moments,
when all had been soft, smooth sailing
& again could be if I pretend
this is just a white tent on a raft,
& some lovely soprano was singing a lullaby
for the cleaving cleft…
Friend, grief makes these words
some blurred codeine fever
when we had such clarity,
immense, immeasurable—–
the fine rhapsody & waves humming,
body to spirit, & farther still…
Thus too, perhaps we lap,
the storm having been the dream &
no one really apart any more than the spoon
on white cloth holding its twin silver blue
shadow ‘til
warmth glows red & all else melts
but this knowledge—–
me passport 7 2019 noise (1)

A resident of NY, Stephen Mead is an Outsider multi-media artist and writer.  Since the 1990s he’s been grateful to many editors for publishing his work in print zines and eventually online.  He is also grateful to have managed to keep various day jobs for the Health Insurance. In 2014 he began a webpage to gather various links to his published poetry in one place.

Poetry on the Line, Stephen Mead



Grover by Steve Burke

Year-and-a-half-old Mariah, having toddled up to the TV screen,
places a palm there and pronounces “Gro-bah,”
the name of the gentle blue monster who lives there;
leaves a fresh handprint in the film of dust.
Later, from that same screen, I learn of a mother of two
having strapped both into their car seats
and let car roll down boat ramp into a lake.
Human become monster; a taste dry as dust in our mouths.
And, for me, a flashback-memory of me the little kid
being held under lake surface by bigger kid,
long enough to remember for this long: the being held under.
I awake heart in throat from this Dream: that Mariah
has been killed by a van sideswiping our parked sedan.
As bad: the feeling that even in sleep there is no escape,
that sleep can suffocate.
Then, mother-in-law Clara phones, hears of dream, and says
that this is good luck, that if you dream
of someone’s death it means that they will live long.
And so, I surface…the throat clears…and the mind
rises to believe that occasional horrors can power life.
This is what we never dream of:: the ribs being accordian’d down,
then of the lungs inflating for the first time…
the rupturing of the membrane between There and Here.
What we never remember: the last taste of fluid or that first of air…
that, before the taking-in, everyone is a little blue.
What we never forget: the haunting that we want to endure, that
we want to hold us with all our might; the first song, even
if it’s a scrawny voice, ringing full, ringing clear.
Steve Burke’s poems have been published in a number of journals & mags; has had two chapbooks – After The Harvest & For Now – published by Moonstone Press. He worked for many years as an obstetric nurse; lives in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia.


Two Poems by Jessica Dubey

Where Art Ends & We Begin
After a People Matching Artwork photo by Stefan Draschan.
She wades into the painting,
Monet lilies up to her waist.
The drape of her dress
moves with the current
of violet-blue brush strokes.
She lifts her phone, takes aim
the same moment a camera
blinks behind her.
She is collage,
a flower pressed into a book,
not lost in the painting
but found.
How long did the photographer
wait for her
camouflaged in the reeds
of the crowd?
His body still as the paintings
on the wall.
Waiting for something as wild
and elusive as chance
to be drawn to the water
and drink from it.
This is not how I envisioned my day—
drenched in humidity, hand extended
to receive screws and bolts,
brackets and washers.
My husband leans over an engine
four weeks after surgery,
four weeks after his head was pried open
like the hood of this car
so the surgeon could reach in,
remove a piece of his skull, cauterize
and staple him back together.
I cringe each time he straightens up,
hits his head on the hood,
imagine him in one of the helmets
designed for infants whose heads
are misshapen at birth.
All of his reshaping unseen,
neuroplasticity reconnecting
spark plug wires and intake hoses
so that his brain recognizes
the horizon rather than being adrift.
I know he should rest, but
maybe this is what he needs most,
to use his hands and his head
bent over an engine.
Instead of the incessant hum in his ear,
he hears his father’s voice
instructing him
how to dismantle a machine,
then make it work again.
jessica dubey photo
Jessica Dubey is a poet living in upstate New York. She was Kissing Dynamite’s September 2019 featured poet. Her work has appeared in numerous journals including Oxidant | Engine, Gulf Stream Literary Magazine, Barren Magazine and IthacaLit.


Two Poems by John D. Robinson

From The Barber’s Chair
‘I don’t want to be the
richest man in the graveyard’
he said :
he was retired, no mortgage
or dependents: he’d booked
safari holidays in India and
week long breaks in Lisbon,
Venice, Madrid and Zurich
for his wife and he:
‘Fuck it’ he said as he sat
in the barber’s chair:
‘Heaven and hell aren’t
interested in how much your
worth, it’s your heart
and soul they’re fighting
for and I couldn’t give a
fuck whose company
I end up in, I’ll
be at home wherever’.
A Long Time
‘We may not live a long time
but we’re a long time dead’
she told me:
she sat looking innocent
but her reflection betrayed
her feelings:
my reflection refused to
show itself, defecting to
a place I couldn’t dream of:
‘We’re dead already’
she said as her shallow
shadow followed her out
of the room
as I sat
looking for mine.
johnd d
John D. Robinson is a poet from the U.K. You can find his most recent collection, “A Hash Smoking, Codeine Swallowing, Wine Drinking Son of a Bitch” here:



Viral Times by Thomas Piekarski

Viral Times
The day we learned of the pandemic
we happily sang karaoke till 2 A.M.
And homeless yet slept on Broadway.
Beatrice made a batch of marmalade
from oranges picked off the ground.
Then people started swarming stores.
Be brave the talking heads urged but
many couldn’t marshal any fortitude.
The stock market took a frantic dive
as malevolent genies invaded the air.
Spring weather reduced cabin fever
for those bold enough to walk dogs.
Some fell back on poetry’s catharsis.
Masks worn as if it were Mardi Gras.
Kiss the cat and rock a baby to sleep.
The people slaves to a broken system.
Many prayed out of utter desperation.
We’d hang together yet remain apart
in the collective karma we dreamed.
Working overtime at the burger joint
they manned drive-through windows.
Memes citing trusted sources spread
rumors about touching door handles.
Climatic demise on the back burner,
woefully the senator tested positive.
Many prayed from utter desperation.
Pandemonium singed inverted souls.
Doctors grimaced as thousands died.
Some day we’d dither in our sorrow,
mindful how the magician Mandrake
taught what seems real is often bunk.
Thomas Piekarski Photo
Thomas Piekarski is a former editor of the California State Poetry Quarterly. His poetry has appeared in numerous publications in the U.S. and abroad, including Taj Mahal Review, Poetry Quarterly, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Poetry Salzburg, and South African Literary Journal. He has published three books of poetry, the latest of which is Mercurial World (Cyberwit 2020).

Three Poems by Sylvia Maclagan

barn window
Stilled sounds from your bedroom check futile
gestures. Each time the window unlatches
oppressive air numbs my senses, leaden air
that’ll not suffer sounds anew of a voice departed
in unsullied peace, soft and smooth to my heart.
Sometimes windows open with a mysterious hush,
as if sounds were longing to fill a void, be present,
then stay their headlong rush towards my waiting ears.
Each time it’s the same, and the sounds are the same,
tender and magnetic in the stillness of memory.
If spontaneous sounds revisit, grief returns,
my profuse gestures tremble in the air,
sounds sounds sounds of an essence spent;
brief beats of silence become pain,
un-stilled stillness causing havoc in time’s flow.
Everything returns, sterile sorrow,
deafening singularities in endless succession.
My gestures don’t solve life’s riddle.
Muted sounds from your vacant room,
sounds sounds, those sounds will not return.
Time stands still in your gaze:
you survive in a descending spiral,
searching for preterite instants
in mnemonic pathways.
Your eyes don’t see the world
but shadows.
Your mind transmutes love in phantoms
without farewells.
Dementia, like the blind worm,
slides through tunnels in live matter.
Is your yoke easy? You don’t answer.
Destiny summons you with the mask of a woman.
Seeking an outlet, you carry a child’s rucksack
on an old man’s loins,
packed with unfathomable images of your yesterdays.
Your destiny is Amphitrite with a child in her arms.
Goddess of the Ocean,
she breastfeeds aquatic creatures
adrift in embryonic waters.
You must return to the cool green depths.
You will have peace.
H2O Recycled
I wipe garish makeup from your lips,
because you are stoned or drunk,
a loner in the silent metropolis.
You flush me down fauces,
labyrinths that man conceals
in a maze of urban paradoxes,
forgetful of my sacred heritage.
Unreal age, the rush and noise of city days,
when mums and lunch-hour dawdlers
unroll plastic mats or coats on grass,
to broil their skin with U.V. rays,
like sacrificial beasts on beer-can altars.
I’d not go willingly into the bowels
of doomed cities, palaces, taverns,
but gravity pulls me down hollows,
now and then a glimpse of sidewalks
above, of the homeless snoring
on thresholds, legs curled mindlessly
over iron gratings.
I spy a yellowish glow: a wedding-ring. Yours?
Your mascara was streaked with tears.
I flow past tatters, socks, foul jeans,
smegma of mangy bodies and cats,
I hear the squeals of mating rats
slinking in gutters, climbing and falling
                                                swish swish swish
into my sludge to reach the sea.
A shoe-sole gasps and taps
at my oily edge, and is toppled over by a toad.
Chemically treated -H2O recycle mode-
I’m dumped in reservoirs and left to brew,
until breezy dawns spell hope
as I swirl into a realm of heavenly hues.
And yet -like Sisyphus- I must start over,
pushing not a rock but mammoth turbines
for city lights and the miracle of your tap water.
Sylvia Maclagan was born on an apple farm in the valley of Río Negro, Argentina. A bi-lingual poet she has been published widely in Spanish and English. Patagonia Lost, Books I and II were published by Mosaic Musings Publications in 2007. Maclagan was most recently published at Recently, Peace & Freedom Press.